Recent Form 6 minutes

Assessing the merits of a horse’s recent form requires more than a simple check of its latest finishing positions and cursory glance at other details. Consideration must be given to the suitability of the conditions the horse raced in and any other factors that may have affected its performance.

For example, a horse that finished unplaced when racing short of its best distance from a position in-running well back from its usual position should not be viewed in the same way as a horse that finished unplaced after racing at its ideal distance with a perfect run behind the leaders.

When I am analysing recent form, I tend to have a structure to the way I work through it, questions I ask myself and conclusions that I draw about the upcoming race. The following model summarises that approach and might help you to improve your own form analysis and assessments.

Recent Form Analysis Model

Previous Runs

How well suited was the horse?

  • The first and most important question to answer when looking at a horse’s recent form is how suitable was the class of race it contested? Was the horse racing above, below or in approximately its right class?
  • What distance was the run over, how does this relate to the horse’s best distance range?
  • Was the horse likely to be at peak fitness for the run? It’s generally safe to assume that horses well into their preparation racing within 28 days of their previous start are at peak fitness. Horses that are first up, possibly second up or racing off a break of more than 28 days may not be at peak fitness, especially those racing over 1400m+. Check previous runs off a similar number of days to see if there is any pattern that might indicate the horse was not fit.
  • What barrier did the horse start from and where did it race in the field? How does this relate to its previous best performances? For example, a horse may usually race in the first four runners, but at its last run it started from a wide draw and raced back in the field. This indicates that the horse may not have been well suited and therefore could not be expected to produce its best.
  • How well was the horse suited by the run it had during the race? Did it have a good trip? Alternatively, did it get caught wide or suffer interference etc.? Was it ridden well or poorly?
  • Was the pace advantageous, neutral or a disadvantage to the horse’s winning chance?
  • What was the track condition on the day? Is there any evidence that this may have affected the horse’s performance either positively or negatively?
  • Was there any observable track pattern on the day? Did the horse race in the best part of the track or the worst?
  • What weight did the horse carry? Is there any evidence that this may have been a disadvantage to the horse? (check previous runs to see if the horse has consistently run poorly with weight above a certain amount.)

How was the horse expected to perform?

  • What price did the horse start at? Did it firm or ease? The market is extremely efficient in predicting winning chances and horses that start well up in the market and / or firm are expected to perform well. Conversely, horses that start well down the price scale are not expected to be competitive.

How did the horse perform?

  • What was the horse’s finishing position and margin? In the circumstances, how would you describe the run? For example:
    • Good run, but well suited and expected by the market to run well.
    • Good run, even though unsuited by one or more important factors.
    • Average run, but not all that well suited and was a long shot in betting.
    • Poor run even though ideally suited and expected by the market to run well.
    • Poor run, but totally unsuited and not expected by the market to run well.

Once you have made an accurate assessment of the merit in a horse’s recent runs, it becomes much easier to assess its chances in an upcoming race.

Today’s Race

How suitable are today’s race conditions?

  • Consider all of the points listed above relative to today’s race. Are they more favourable, less favourable or similar to the conditions encountered in recent runs? Consider factors such as class, fitness, distance, pace, track condition, jockeys, likely in run position, track pattern etc.
  • How do today’s conditions compare to those the horse usually performs its best in? Looks for previous good runs either this preparation or prior to that and look for any similarities with the upcoming race.

Can you expect the horse to perform better, the same or worse today?

  • By piecing together your analysis of a horse’s recent form with the suitability of today’s conditions you can draw important conclusions about how you expect it to perform today. For example, a horse that was poorly suited last start but is ideally suited today can naturally be expected to perform better.

Following are some examples of the recent form / expected performance scenarios you could come across:

Past ConditionsPerformanceTodays ConditionsExpected Performance
Ideally suitedWon / Ran wellIdeally suitedShould perform strongly again.
Ideally suitedWon / Ran wellPoorly suitedLikely to perform worse today. Some risk.
Ideally suitedFailedPoorly or Moderately suitedLikely to fail again. Hard to like
Ideally suited / short in betting.FailedIdeally suited.Query runner. May have had an off day and could easily improve to best form today.
Moderately suitedWon / ran wellIdeally suitedLikely to run better today. Can be a key winning chance.
Moderately suitedRan wellPoorly suitedLikely to run worse today, which probably makes it tough to win.
Moderately suitedFailedModerately suitedLikely to run the same. Even if the horse improves a little, its unlikely to win.
Poorly suitedRan okayIdeally suitedLikely to run much better. A definite contender.
Poorly suitedRan okayModerately suitedLikely to improve but may not be enough to win.
Poorly suitedFailedIdeally suitedLikely to improve sharply. Should not be dismissed.

Using this process will help you to quickly identify the genuine winning chances in a race. As you can imagine, there are many different scenarios you could come across, but after a little bit of experience you will get a feel for how they should be treated.

Poorly suited and / or out of form horses rarely win. Horses that were suited in recent runs and ran moderately or worse are potential LAY bets in an upcoming race, especially if they are coming to a race where you are confident they are even less suited.

WIN betting attention should be focused on horses that are well suited, in good form and / or have a race set up which can see them improve towards a level of form that can win.

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