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How to Find Winners


Finding winners is what every horse racing punter wants to do but some are better at it than others. There is no formula to finding winners but there are certain ways to find horses that do have a good chance of winning a race and other ways to find horses that are unlikely to run well and they are detailed below.

Going and Distance

The going is often described as the most important factor in horse racing and however good a horse is, if the ground conditions are against it there is a good chance the horse won’t run it’s race. The winner of a horse race is (barring bad luck) is the best horse on the day in the conditions and the going and the distance are two of the most important conditions to consider.

Important Considerations About The Going

  • Just because a horse has shown form on softer surfaces it doesn’t mean they won’t handle firmer ground and vice versa.
  • Some horses are very versatile and can run to form on any ground.
  • If a horse has run badly on all occasions they have met a certain ground type it's highly likely that ground is unsuitable.
  • Horses that have been running on unfavourable ground are worth bearing in mind for when they have their favoured ground conditions - they can often be overpriced.



Horses’ form can improve or deteriorate when stepped up or down in trip but one of the biggest mistakes that can be made in horse racing betting is assuming a horse that finishes its race well needs to be stepped up in trip. Often what happens around three or four furlongs from home (depending on the distance) is more important than what happens in the last furlong or two. Looking for the term ‘outpaced’ at this stage in a horse’s formbook can be much more important than ‘stayed on well’ in the final furlong, although those that were outpaced a few furlongs from home should stay on well also if they are going to be a threat up in trip.



Most handicap runners will have run in a handicap last time out and comparing the relative strengths and weaknesses of all the pieces of handicap form that come together in a competitive handicap can be easier to evaluate than it seems.

Although not an exact science, if a handicap runners’ last race was three or four weeks ago you can look at what the horses who finished close to that runner last time out have gone on to achieve in the next run. The better they have done the stronger that handicap form and the more likely that this horse is well handicapped. On the other hand if most the horses who finished close to the horse last time out have gone on to finish down the field in similar races since then the horse is probably not well handicapped.

If you identify a handicap that is working out well it can seriously pay to make a note or set up horse alerts or nag me services for the other horses who ran well in the race so that you can back them next time out. Early season 3yo only handicaps on the flat can often work out very well and provide plenty of profit for those who follow the first 6 or so home.


One of the best ‘regular’ 3yo handicaps from recent years was the 2.40 at Newbury on 16th April 2004. It was only a class 3 handicap but it was contested by a ridiculous amount of well handicapped horses.


  1. African Dream

    Won this race by 2 lengths and then won his next two races at Group 3 level. Was proved to be 19lbs well in for this race.


  3. Red Lancer

    Was beaten just a short head next time out in handicap company but bounced back with a win by 5 lengths at Group 3 level in his next race. At his peak he was rated 28lbs higher than when running in this contest.


  5. Gatwick

    Won his next two starts at handicap level and won another big handicap later in the year, he was retired at the end of his 3yo season rated 25lbs higher than in this race.


  7. Zonus

    Zonus was a difficult character to win with, often looking very unlucky, he finished 2nd and 3rd in hot handicaps in his next two starts and eventually won off a 7lb higher mark than in this race.


  9. Red Spell

    Won his next start at 10/1 and was a narrow 2nd when reassessed in his following race.


  11. Frank Sonata

    Won his next race at huge odds of 33/1 and took another competitive handicap that season before winning at listed level. At his peak he was rated 21 lbs higher than in this race.


  13. Freak Occurence

    Finished 3rd at 20/1 next time out.


  15. Border Music

    Finished 3rd at 16/1 next time out and filled the frame in his subsequent four starts.


  17. Jedburgh

    Finished 3rd at 25/1 next time out and ended up winning at Group 3 level.

The remainder of the runners in this race were beaten 18 lengths or more on the day so were of no interest on subsequent outings.




Just how well handicapped many of these were may be a rare occurrence but there are several handicaps each season where the first five or six horses all go on to win or run very well on their next appearance. Spotting these races early can be the key to having a successful run of bets in handicap company.


Unlucky losers

Although some ‘unlucky’ last time out losers will go on to win they rarely offer much value as everyone can spot them. The degree of misfortune can often be overestimated and the reason a horse finished so well after meeting trouble is because they saved energy whilst other horses were making their moves. As well as the fact that unlucky losers are nearly always over bet next time out when there is a chance they won’t be good enough to win the race, there is also the fact that they may be unlucky once again. Some horses always seem to find trouble in running and that is often because of the way they have to be ridden, from the rear, through weakening horses. This is a risky strategy and sticking to more straight forward horses could be the way to go. Some will win next time out but it’s certainly not the best strategy for trying to find winners and one that many punters still choose to follow.


You may have seen signposts referred to before in horse racing and not been sure what they referred to. Signposts are freely available information about trainer form, jockey form, course form, which horses are going up and down in class, which horses are travelling the furthest distance and which horses were well backed last time out. This information is usually available in daily newspapers as well as racing publications but the detail of information will differ between publications.

Betting School ImageOne of the most important signposts is the trainer form, and in particular those on the ‘cold’ list which refers to out of form trainers. When trainers are very out of form there is often some sort of bug in the yard and a horse that is unwell is always going to run below form. Bigger yards that have multiple stables might still be able to produce winners even when slightly out of form but in smaller yards in particular out of form trainers should usually be avoided.

When those horses do come back into form though the trainer can often find themselves on the ‘hot’ list as their horses are usually better handicapped or able to contest lower grade races due to their poor recent form when the stable was under a cloud. Stopping backing horses when a trainer looks as though he is going out of form can save backing plenty of losers and spotting which trainers are returning to form early can flag up some big priced winners.

Course form can be another important pointer, although not necessarily a factor to solely base a bet on. Britain is home to some of the most unique and unconventional racecourses in the world so it is no surprise that certain horses take to certain courses. Courses such as Epsom, Brighton, Chester, Cheltenham and Newmarket offer some unusual characteristics and if horses have run above or below form at these courses before there is a good chance that will be repeated the next time they run there.

Following The Money

For many punters the market and the moves that take place are crucial clues as to what the result will be. Others think the market is mostly controlled by clueless bets. There is an OLBG Forum thread about Following The Money where OLBG members discuss the merits and pitfalls of paying close attention to market movers.



Examining the breeding of a course can sometimes be daunting but it can also be invaluable in certain circumstances. The breeding of a horse can not only determine its ability but also the optimum going and distance. The form book can also tell you this but on occasions it will be unknown, in newcomers being the most obvious example.

With many better class races taking place on the all weather these days it can also be useful to find out if a horse that has been running on turf is likely to run well on the all weather or vice versa. It can also be useful in jumps racing, even on more experienced horses. Certain sires have a very strong stamina influence and a good knowledge of stamina laden sires can help find the winners of the long distance chases, especially when the ground is soft or heavy.

In an OLBG Blog by Billy121only named Horse Racing Tutorial - The Process Of Finding A Good Bet he examines the pedigree of a horse amongst other factors as ways of finding winners and he points out another area in which breeding can be useful:


When 3-y-o’s go handicapping, many of them are simply slow and are stepped up in trip more in desperation than hope. However, quite often you will find a horse who has raced over say 6f and a mile stepping up to 1m2f or better still 1m 4f. If such a horse is by a sire who is an influence for stamina, say Montjeu and has stamina on the dams side, then he may start a big price after modest runs at shorter trips but the 12f handicap he contests is what he has needed all along. John hills is a trainer who can pull this off well.


Multiple Entries

In an OLBG Blog by Micko70 named Multiple Entries and Minor Meetings he explains that by looking at certain entry patterns you can find horses that are expected to run well by connections.


Golden Rules

At the beginning of 2014 OLBG member The Executioner decided to share the principles which determine his betting routine and they can be viewed in his blog 10 Golden Rules For Punters in 2014


Horse Racing Bookmakers UK

We hope all the information above helps you make better betting decisions and find more winners.  

Now you have the knowledge you will have to decide which bookmakers you use for your horse racing bets.

However, we have that covered as well with the unmissable guide on horse racing bookmakers uk.

Written by racing industry professionals it is the ultimate bookmaker resource for the novice punter, + a timely reminder for those who always bet with the same bookie.

If you only bet with the same bookie you are missing out on always taking the best odds, missing out on free bets, and missing out on horse racing promos such as cash backs.

The horse racing bookmakers uk guide is updated weekly enabling you to always be informed.  

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