No matter what you might hear from some people, there is no sure-fire way to pick a winner when it comes to racing. You can however make extremely likely picks by getting good at handicapping and getting all the data possible to form conclusions.
Looking up information like today’s racing results in order to make sure you have the most complete picture possible and going into a meet well-armed with knowledge is the best way to make sure you walk out ahead. But if you’re only just starting out in the horse racing scene, you might benefit from a few tricks to help you pick a winner.
Step 1: Look at past results
The best way to tell how a horse will run at any given meet is, well, to see how they did last year. The bookies will have done this to calculate the odds but it never hurts to cast your own eyes over it. Looking at past results can give you a good grounding in which horses have performed best in recent memory and are worth checking out in more detail, specifically what the race conditions were like, as the going can make or break a horse’s chance of winning.
Step 2: Check this year’s odds
Doing some of the legwork for you, bookies always need to know what the chances are of a horse winning as they need to protect their own profits and make sure the overround stays secure. With that in mind, you can expect the odds a bookie gives are at least somewhat grounded in reality and can give you a good starting point for picking a horse. Let’s take for example Cheltenham, a meet coming up soon, and the horses that are looking like great picks. Two of the hottest choices are Samcro and Laurina, both of whom are expected to win at least one race. But this leads into the next step to consider.
Step 3: Which race?
You tend to get better odds the earlier you bet when there’s still an air of uncertainty, but the difficulty you will then face is which race you think the horse will run in. Over the years, Cheltenham has changed a lot and it’s now possible for a horse to hold entries in a number of different contests. This then raises the question of which race you want to bet on and which you think they’ll even run in. Many bookies offer an ‘Any Race’ bet which can be used to get by this but the odds can be a little worse (they may be a certainty in some races but only be a good chance in some and the bookie has to account for the chance they run in the certainty).
Your best bet is to instead employ some psychology – consider the trainer and where they are likely to enter the horse. Some connections are likely to go for the low hanging fruit with a reliable horse while others may shoot for the big prize.
Step 4: Find the best bet
Once you have the horse, the race and you’re confident you have a solid prediction on how events are going to unfold, then it’s just finding the right bookie with the odds you’re after. It’ll vary depending on which bookmaker you end up placing the bet with but if you take some time and check around, you can maximise the pay-out if you’ve managed to predict right!