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How to read a form guide

Horse racing form guides can be tricky. There is plenty of information, all jam packed into a small listing. But if you want to be successful at horse racing betting, you need to know how to scan a form guide for the information you need. Once you get the hang of it, it will become second nature to you.

Form guide example

Horse form guide example race overview

The first section of the form guide to read is the race overview. This gives you the basic information of each horse competing in the race.

This example from the Sunday Herald Sun on 29 July 2018, shows the horses competing in race 8 in the 1200m Sandown Lodge Winter Sprint Final. The race starts at 4.15. The total prize money of the race is $50,000.

  • The first column of numbers shows the saddlecloth the horse will wear for the race
  • Then comes the horse’s places in its previous five races (s = spell or break)
  • Then the name of the horse, its barrier (first bracket) and (x) (second bracket)
  • Then its trainer
  • Then its jockey in bold type
  • Then the weight it is carrying
  • Then its Techform rating
  • Then the odds with a star by the favourite

Form guide horse listing

racing form guide example horse information

Key elements of a form guide

Inside the form guide you will get even more details on each horse competing in the race.

Horse details

3. HOKKAIDO (3), 59 ▼

The horse is carrying saddlecloth number 3 in this race, and he is also TAB No. 3 in your local Australian TAB. The horse’s name is HOKKAIDO is carrying 59 kilograms in today’s race.

Colour, type, age, breeding details and trainer

b r 6 Purrealist – Teatime Tattle

Trainer: Craig Blackshaw (Moe)

Hokkaido is a black rig horse, aged six years with his parents horses Surrealist and Teatime Tattle. His trainer is Craig Blackshaw based in Moe.

Horse racing colours

royal blue, red vest, sleeves and cap

You need to know the colours so you can see your chosen horse during the race!

Horse’s career stats and earnings

37 starts, 7-4-3 $249,890

Hokkaido has had 37 career starts for 7 wins, 4 seconds and 3 thirds. He has earned prize money of $249,000.

Career spell

The table below the prize money summarises Hokkaido’s performance on various track types – firm, good, soft, heavy and synthetic.

Trk:0-0-0-0 Dist:5:1-0-0 1st up: 6:1-0-1 2nd up:5:1-0-0 Win: 18.9% Place 37.8% Won over: 1200 (1) 1400 (2) 1430 (1) 1500 (1) 1600 (2)

Here you’ll find a summary of Hokkaido’s career record across a number of variables. At this track (Trk) he has placed outside the top ten in his previous four appearances. At this distance (Dist) he had five starts for one win. First ups indicate(1st up) Hokkaido’s performance in his first race as well as any runs following a spell in the paddock – a rest of 60 days. He has had 6 first up performances with two wins. Second up (2nd up) indicates his performance in the second race after a spell. He has had five 2nd up runs and one win. He has won 18.9% of his races and placed 37.8% of his races.

Then we see Hokkaido’s winning performance over distance (Won over). The number in brackets indicates his number of wins at that distance. So for 1200m he has won one race – 1200 (1) and for 1400m he has won two races, and so on.

Horse’s third last start

Now we see even more detail about Hokkaido’s performance in his last three starts, starting with the third most recent.

9th 09Dec17 9.7L Racing.com Park (Metro) 4yo and UP Open 1400m 59 (N Callow 8) 12, Set wts with pen, 1:25.44 (last 600m 36:66), Soft (6) Amadeus 57 1, Willi Willi 59 2, Burning Front 60 3, Btg $12.00 $13.00 $10.00 6th settling, 4th 800m, 8th turn.

Hokkaido came ninth in this race (9th) on 9 December 2017. He finished 9.7 lengths behind the winner at Racing.Com Park in the four year old and up open. The distance was 1400 metres and Hokkaido carried 59 kilos. His jockey was N Callow coming from barrier eight and there were 12 runners in the race. The race was a set weights with penalties, meaning horses carried weights based on their age and gender.

His race time was 1:25.44 and he ran 36:66 in the last 600 meters of the race. The track was soft with a grading of 6. Amadeus came first carrying 57 kilos, Willi Willi came second carrying 59 kilos, Burning Front came third carrying 60 kilos. The odds for Hokkaido in this race were $12.00, $13.00 and $10.00. After he left the gate he settled in sixth, he was fourth at 800 metres and 8th at the final turn into the straight.

Horse’s second last start

10th 01Jan18 5.3L Flemington (G3) Standfish Hcp 1200 metres 54 (S Baster 12) 12 Lim 54 1:08.98 (Last 600m 32.83), Good, (3) Lord Of The Sky 59 1 Flippant 56 2 Chamois Road 54.5 3 Btg $31.00, $51.00 Last to 400m

Hokkaido came 10th in this race on 1 January 2018 at Flemington, finishing 5.3 lengths behind the winner. The race was the Standish handicap, which is a group three race, over a distance of 1200 metres and Hokkaido carried 54 kilos. His jockey was S Baster and he started from barrier 12. There were 12 horses in the race. There was a weight limit of 54 kilos in this race.

He ran the race in a time of 1:08.98 and his last 600 metres was in 32:83. The track was good (3). Lord Of The Sky came first carrying 59 kilos. Flippant came second carrying 56 kilos. Chamois Road came third carrying 54.5 kilos. Hokkaido’s odds were $31.00 and $51.00 for this race. He came last all the way till the 400 metre mark.

Horse’s last start

17th 21 July 18 7.2L Flemington Bm78 1200m 59.5 (N Callow 12) 20, Lim 54, 1:09.92 (Last 600m 34.16 Good (4) Overstep 56 1, Chatuchak 57 2, Tahi 55 3, Btg $41.00, $71.00 11th settling, 19th 400m

Hokkaido’s most recent race was 17th place on 12 July 2018, finishing 7.2 lengths behind the winner. The race was at Flemington over a distance of 1200 metres. The race was a benchmark 78 race with a limit of 54 kilos. The weight was 59.5 kilos, the jockey was N Callow, and the barrier was number 12. There were 20 runners in the race. Hokkaido’s time was 1:09.92 with 34.16 over the last 600 metres. The track was good with a rating of 4.

Overstep won the race carrying 56 kilos. Chatuchak came second with 57 kilos. Tahi came third carrying 55 kilos. The odds for Hokkaido in this race were $41.00 and 71.00. After he left the gate he settled in 11th place and was 19th at the 400 metre mark.

Form guide commentary

Couldn’t show a turn of foot at Flemington first up. Can figure.

The final section of Hokkaido’s form guide listing is a brief comment on his chances from the form guide editorial team. In this case the editors believe he ‘can figure’ meaning he is capable of getting a place.

How did he go?

For the race in question, the Sandown Lodge Winter Challenge Synthetic Sprint, on 29 July 2018, Hokkaido came eighth out of a field of ten.

Form guide abbreviations

Horse sex abbreviations in the form guide

  • c – colt – a male horse under three years old
  • f – filly – a female horse under three years old
  • g – gelding – a castrated male horse, unable to breed
  • h – horse (sometimes stallion)
  • m – mare – a female horse over three years old
  • s – stallion male horse over three years old and not neutered
  • r – rig – a male horse with undescended testicles

Horse colour abbreviations in the form guide

  • b – bay – brown coat with a black mane
  • bl – black – black coat and mane
  • br – brown – brown coat and mane
  • ch – chestnut – reddish brown coat with a mane and tail similar or paler in colour
  • gr – grey – black skin and white hairs which creates a flat or mottled grey appearance, with darker skin at the eyes, muzzle and flanks, tends to lighten as the horse ages
  • ro – roan – a horse colour with an even mixture of white and any other coloured hairs on the body, does not lighten as the horse ages
  • wh – white – white skin and coat or greys with full colour white coat

Horse race performance abbreviations in the form guide

  • 1-9 – the horse finished the race in first to ninth
  • 0 – finished the race further back than ninth
  • s – a spell, three months rest from racing
  • f – fell during the race
  • p – pulled up during the race
  • l – lost jockey during the race

Form guides often show the last races for the horse in this format:


This means that in the last five races, the horse finished:

  • 0 – further back than ninth
  • s – had a three month or longer spell
  • 8 – came eighth
  • 1 – came first
  • 1 – came first

The first listing on the left is the fifth most recent placing and the final listing on the right is the most recent placing. In this case the horse has won its last two races, so seems a good bet.

Track and distance performance abbreviations on the form guide

Form guides often give commentary on how horses performed on different track, conditions and other factors. These abbreviations include:

  • b – beaten favourite at last start
  • t – won at track of today’s race
  • d – won at distance of today’s race
  • c – won at both course and distance of today’s race
  • w – won in wet conditions
  • n – won at a night meeting
  • h – racing on home track

What to look for when reading the form guide

Of course, we need all this information in the form guide to make a decision on which horse to bet on. Here’s some factors to consider.

  • recent performance: has the horse fared well in recent races?
  • career stats: has the horse performed well over its entire career?
  • performance at distance: has the horse shown form at the distance?
  • track conditions: what is the track conditions and has the horse performed well with today’s conditions?
  • trainer: does the trainer have a reputation for working with winning horses?
  • jockey: is the jockey experienced, with several wins under their belt?
  • breeding: who are the horses parents, and how successful were their careers?
  • odds: what are the bookmakers saying about the horses chances for this race?

Pro tip

Keep an eye on variances in distance, your horse may have won its previous race but if its next race is a longer (or shorter) distance your horse may struggle.