Connect with us


Tips for Handicapping the Horses on Your Own

Australian horse race picks

If you ask an experienced horseplayer to teach you how to handicap a horse race, you will most likely see a grimace on their face. It’s not because they don’t want to help, it usually has more to do with the complicated nature of handicapping.


If you are asking because you are tired of paying for and/or getting horse racing tips and horse racing picks that rarely pan-out, there would be some benefit to you learning how to handicap a race on your own. With that in mind, here are a few handicapping tips you can use to get started.


Handicapping Tools

The days of relying on horse racing tips and horse racing picks are over. Before you begin this adventure, you will want to get in the habit of purchasing a Daily Racing Form or past performance from a reputable online provider like Brisnet, which can be found on the popular Equibase website. The first rule of handicapping is “information is king.” The Racing Form or other past performance guides are filled with relevant information related to each horse’s most recent past performances going into the current day’s racing card. The only other tools you will need are your brain and an attention to detail.


Learning to Handicap North American Horse Races

The act of handicapping a race is all about comparing the historical ability of all the horses in a particular race. There are plenty of nuances you could focus on, but at the beginning level, the focus should be put on speed, pace and class.


While most past performance guides will show up to 12 past races for each horse, it’s best to focus on the last four. You can consider that the horse’s “current form.”


Speed – As far back as the 1980s, the only way to compare the speed of two horses based on their past performances was to look at the final times of each horse’s most recent races. Today, each publication provides some type of speed figure assigned to each horse for each race. In the Racing Form, they use Beyer Speed Figures. By comparing each horse’s speed figures, you can get a rough idea of how fast each horse has been running. During the comparison process, you want to pay particular attention to horses with speed figures that have been trending up or down. Horses trending upwards can often provide wagering value because they are on the improve. Improving horses often get overlooked in the wagering by people who focus on only which horse has been running faster. Likewise, be wary of horses that seem to be consistently slowing down.


Pace – Projecting the pace of a race plays a big part in determining whether horses with a certain running style might have an advantage in a particular race. Each horse tends to have a preferred running style. Horses that show speed out of the gate in the past performance running lines are called “front-runners.” Horses that like to run in mid-pack are called “stalkers.” Horses that are slow out of the gate and like to make a big run at the end are called “closers.”


In horse racing, front runners will typically determine the overall pace of the race. If two or more front-runners are in the same race, there’s a good chance the early pace will become too fast, giving stalkers and closers an advantage. If there seems to be only one front-runner in the race, that horse might have an advantage because it might be able to slow the pace down enough to have something left to hold off the stalkers and closers in the stretch. The final test for pace is to review the fractional times at the left of the running lines. This will give you the ability to compare frontrunners to see if one of the horses might still have an advantage over slower frontrunners.


Class – The last consideration is class. Each race has conditions that are written at the top. These conditions are used by horsemen to try help them place their horses at the optimum level of the horse’s competitiveness. At the bottom level, you will find claiming races. The next level is allowance races and then handicap or stakes races. At each level, the purse of the race will help you determine if a horse is running where they belong and had some past success. Again, you want to pay attention to horses that are trending up or down in class. It might give you an indication of how the horsemen feel about their horse’s current form.


If you can’t make it out to the actual racetrack to begin applying what you are learning, you can always find an online race book where you can wager on horses across many different racing venues. In Australia, horseplayers have reputable online sportsbooks like Ladbrokes Australia. While wagering with an online race book is still technically illegal in the states, it’s usually fine to use a site like, which tends to cater to American players. Truthfully, the laws are written to prevent online bookmakers from using credit card processing centers to receive deposits. If you have access to Western Union or bank wires, you can usually make a deposit and wager without hassle. The good news is that offers the same racing content as a top site like Ladbrokes Australia.

Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

More in Uncategorized