How to read a racecard

May 16, 2017

You’ve got your ticket to the races. Excited and nervous (it might be your first time), you walk to your hospitality table, sit down and start to relax – the view is gorgeous; the food is  scrumptious; and the company divine. You could get used to this!

Then it all starts to go wrong; everyone around your table starts to debate which horse they’ll put money behind; words like “BHA”, “racecards” and “handicap” are thrown around – you look around in despair, and find the race programme with the racecards inside. Saved… …Or not.

If you’re a racing novice or new to betting, then these might look like another language to you. You’ll panic, blink rapidly (as if that ever helps make anything more legible!), smile painfully and pick your favourite name. Or, if you’re a bit savvier, you’ll pick your favourite name from the Tipster’s top three horses. We’ve all been there (it definitely can’t just have been me!) and none of us wants to be in that position again – especially as our favourite names seem to be the worst horses – so we’ve put together this quick guide to reading a race card.  


(Photo credit: Jockey Club) 

Official BHA Ratings

In Handicap races, the aim is to give each horse an equal chance of winning the race. To do so, The British Horse Association (BHA) allocates each horse a rating based on their ability.

These ratings are used to determine the weight to be carried by each runner in handicap races. For example, a horse rated 100 would have to carry 1lb more than a horse rated 99 (ignoring any penalties or allowances).

The ratings published in the racecard for handicap races are the ratings that were used to calculate the weight to be carried by each horse.

In non-handicap races, the rating shown is that of each runner at the time that the entries for the race were confirmed. Any subsequently published change is shown in brackets after the rating.

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