Horse racing is a thrilling sport which is loved by people all over the world. Big races like the ones in the United Kingdom are watched each year by millions of people globally who tune in to witness the drama and unpredictability of the races. Choosing a winner in the biggest races can be notoriously difficult, with so many runners and so many tips flying around. Quite often, betters find that form goes totally out of the window, and the term “favorite” doesn’t mean anything. And yet, there are some people who seem to have the magic touch when it comes to horse betting and are able to pick a winner every time.

To try and help you join that small group of serial winners, here are some handy betting tips to remember for horse racing enthusiasts. 

1. Pick a Horse at Random

This may not sound like the most sophisticated tip there’s ever been, but the truth about many races is that they are a bit of a lottery. If you look at the Grand National, there are forty runners, sixteen oversized fences, and a notoriously difficult track, so even racing experts and pundits really have no idea who is going to win. That is what makes races like the National so profitable for the Bookmakers because everyone from housewives to horse breeders is somewhat in the same position when it comes to backing a winner. Whether you believe in fate, the stars, or in some higher power looking out for you, there are some horses which just feel right. Look for a name which jumps out at you, or which has some special connection to yourself or someone in your family, and you never know what might happen.

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2. Look for Recent Race Experience

Modern horse training is an incredible science and the top trainers are able to effectively prepare a horse for the big races even if it hasn’t run recently. As with all sports, however, there is no substitute for match fitness and experience and recent race experience often plays a decisive factor in the biggest races. If you are planning to bet on the upcoming Grand National, look at the Grand National Guide’s latest list of runners and choose a horse which has run in the eight weeks leading up to the race, especially at distances of more than three miles. Only one of the last twenty seven winners of the Grand National has not raced within those crucial eight weeks so this shows just how important that recent experience is. On the other hand, if you are betting on a particularly long race, you need to make sure that your chosen horse has not tired itself out by running too recently. You need to find the right balance between experience and recovery time in order to pick a potential winner.

3. Consider the Favorite

Many people automatically assume that the favorite is the best place to put their money, but this really depends on the race in question as there are some where the favorite rarely wins. While the pre-race favorite has won at Cheltenham 35% of the time, for example,  there have only been eight favorites who have won the Grand National (about 16% of the races) since 1968. Typically the price of the National favorite gets shortened up by the bookies because casual racing fans will usually bet on it because they don’t know how to look for another winner. This means that even though more money is placed on the favorite, the odds don’t usually reflect its actual chance of winning. Sometimes there are joint favorites and one of those will win, but it really is impossible to call it because anything can and does happen during unpredictable races. Whether you are heading to your local meeting or to one of the big racing festivals, research how often the favorite wins so that you know whether that is a good bet.

4. Look at the Stall Position

This is a factor which is far too often overlooked by people making bets on horses, but it can make a huge difference. Just think about how often the winner in a human race is the runner in the middle lanes. Inside track stalls are incredibly difficult and form and experience are often negated by an unlucky stall draw. At Epsom, for example, only two horses have ever won the Derby when they have started in stall number one. In last year’s race, English King was being ridden by legendary jockey Frankie Dettori, and many people had him down as their pre-race favorite. A stall one draw for the horse saw its odds drift dramatically and the race was ultimately won by Serpentine from stall twelve. Research the stall position of the previous winners of any big race you are betting on and it will help you to identify potential winners. 

5. Choose a Champion Jockey

As you can see above, even legendary jockeys aren’t guaranteed winners, but it is still worth looking at who is riding the horses. Dettori himself, for example, has won twenty three percent of his races (including all seven races in one day at Ascot in 1996) and has been Champion Jockey three times. Christophe Lemaire had a brilliant 2020 winning over half his races, and Irad Ortiz Jr was equally impressive. In the biggest races, the top owners pay for the best jockeys, so this often results in the favorite and the top jockey being paired up. When choosing a horse, look at the past results of the rider and check their recent form. Jockeys’ form can fluctuate just like other athletes so choosing a famous name is not always enough; make sure they are at their best before you pick them.

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Betting on horse racing can be so much fun, and if you get it right, you can make some serious money. Nothing is a sure thing when it comes to gambling (which is why it is called gambling!) but you can give yourself the best possible chance of success with the right knowledge and experience. Follow the tips in this simple guide and they will give you a great opportunity of picking winners on a regular basis.

The views/opinions expressed in these comments are solely those of the author and do not represent those of Island Echo. House rules on commenting must be followed at all times.
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