In search of an edge in their bets, horse racing bettors analyse data more than ever before . Horse racing pioneered the use of historical data analysis as a basis for predictions — but there surprisingly aren’t many detailed sources of form data.
So where can sports bettors find horse racing data to help improve their bet selections? What sites are most useful?
In this post I recommend the best sites for horse racing form stats, as well as some professional sources of racing data.
Why Statistics Are So Important In Horse Racing
Firstly, stats and analysis has always been ingrained in horse racing betting ‘culture’. Racing bettors enjoy seeking their edge by checking the form and looking for trends. In fact, the very sport exists because of betting. That alone makes stats highly important to the sport.
But most importantly, historical performance gives a strong indication of how a horse will race in the future. Statistics are very powerful for predicting horse races.
Key statistics are more meaningful in horse racing than equivalents in team-based sports. Football, in particular, has so many more moving parts — such as managers, the starting 11, injuries, player/team motivation, and the impact of the crowd. It’s less effective (and somewhat naïve) to rely on basic statistics as a form of football prediction. Horse racing, on the other hand, despite dealing with animals, is still less ‘muddled’ by human factors and is easier to predict from a narrower set of variables.
So what kinds of statistics are most commonly used for horse racing prediction?
There are several factors (or “variables”) that impact a horse race such as:
- Horse-specific: How the age, sex, fitness, and weight-over-distance ability compares with the other horses in the race
- Form: For example, the Jockey/Trainer strike rates
- Race type: How horses are likely to perform on a specific race type based on their track record
- Weather conditions: How the horses typically perform under the current weather conditions.
Bettors often consider these factors, and deliberately or subconsciously assign a level of importance that this has on their betting selections (unless, of course, the selection method is completely random!).
Aside from form, many racing punters consider the weather conditions to be most influential and relevant. So for example the bettor may outline horses that relish a wet, muddy track and those that despise it, then base selection(s) heavily around that. The same logic could apply to a dry, stiff track.
Selection methods using historical race data can be as basic as picking horses from the Racing Post Newspaper, to analysing thousands data items in Excel, to using the most complex data mining techniques.
So where do you begin? Where does a bettor find horse racing data?
The following sites are the leading providers of horse racing form statistics, and many other sites are powered by their data. I recommend them to casual bettors as opposed to aspiring pros.
1. The Racing Post
Launched on April 15, 1986, the Racing Post is a daily national print and digital publisher dedicated to the horseracing industry, greyhound racing and sports betting. Racing Post is the only National daily paper focused on horse racing and is one of the most popular, free betting resources.
The Racing Post blends breaking news from the horse racing and betting industries with tipping content, race previews and reports, columns and features. In addition to daily editorial, the newspaper includes cards and horse racing form for each day’s racing, plus entries and results. The paper’s greyhound section previews upcoming racing in addition to offering cards, form and results, while the sports section offers tipping across an extensive range of sports worldwide, including football, rugby and golf.
The website has a tiered membership structure where most information can be gained for free but other premium and in depth information (like racing post ratings and top speed tips) is subscription only. More info on the Racing Post payment structure can be found here.
Timeform Publications is a publishing company from Halifax, West Yorkshire, England founded in 1948 to provide information to fans, bettors, and others involved in the horse racing industry. The company was purchased by the sports betting exchange Betfair in December 2006.
Founder, Phil Bull, once described the effect of the going as “the most important consideration of all” in horseracing analysis. It is fair to say that this perception has lessened at Timeform in the decades since Bull’s remarks. But, that the going is important — to some degree or other — remains undisputed. Nowadays Timeform aims to be the ultimate horse racing form guide, providing analysis, flags and ratings for every runner in every race in Britain and Ireland.
The company’s association with Betfair means they’re in a very strong position to provide detailed sports data to customers. They offer a suite of form tools, enabling Backers and Layers to compare the runners in any given race quickly and effectively all in one place — as well as their analysis and packaged data.
Again, to fully benefit from the service you need to upgrade. Timeform “Race Passes” can be purchased here. Subscribers have access to additional features with extra levels of insight, including complete performance histories, a form archive and unlimited use of the Horse Search facility.
Other Honourable Mentions
Weaknesses In Analysing Horse Racing Form
For most punters betting on the horses is just a bit of fun, and using the form adds to the raceday experience.
But I’m not going to make a secret of it: I don’t think that the majority of punters will benefit from relying on the Racing Post or Timeform if earning a long-term profit is the ultimate goal.
In other words, I don’t believe those sites will give you the best chance of finding value from your bets. Here’s why…
You Need To Find Little-known Information
Successful betting is about finding out something that the majority of others don’t know.
It’s like any business — those who identify some type of niche will succeed in a competitive market. Under this principle: the more research your betting system requires, the more chance you have of finding a competitive advantage.
The problem is, popular data sources like Timeform and the Racing Post offer their data to the masses. It would be naïve to expect to go onto their sites and discover something that other bettors don’t already know about. Bare in mind that both recreational and professional punters study and analyse the (same) data set in order to find an advantage. Profitable opportunities are sparse and short-lived.
Think of it this way…
A punter’s dream is to uncover horse racing’s biggest secrets and earn a fortune from betting. But that dream is hard to turn into a reality when everyone else has been digging for the same treasure, in the exact same spot, for generations. And more people keep on arriving at the same spot to have a dig themselves…
I’m suggesting that you start digging elsewhere.
Professional Horse Racing Databases
The following websites provide far more detailed “raw” horse racing statistics. They give punters a stronger chance of finding an edge than by simply referring to the form:
- Bet Wise. They’re one of the leading providers of raw data. You will need to filter the data and analyse it yourself. If you want to get involved in handicapping and data analysis then this is one of the best places to start.
- Proform Racing. This powerful horse racing form database and research tool has been going since 1995. It aims to facilitate professional punters by providing detailed stats — such as tissue prices, and dynamic speed/form ratings.
- Horse Race Base. Supplies horse racing research, and analytical tools to subscribers. It’s a great database to assist you with your studies, daily horse racing activities and portfolio management. Horse Race Base offers a free trial.
- Betfair. If you’re looking for raw CSV data, then you might benefit from the free data available from Betfair. Whilst it lacks ‘split-second’ data, it still might prove useful for back testing your own basic strategies
- Adrian Massey. The free statistics on Adrian’s site are derived from the results of over 200,000 UK and Irish horse races dating back to 1991. You simply select your criteria and back-test its profitability — by either Backing or Laying on Betfair. You’re able to refine and improve your method by adding/removing variables.
Using Tipsters To Support Your Selections
If you don’t have the time (or data analysis skills) to develop your own betting system by using ‘raw’ horse racing data, then you may decide to invest in one or more specialist horse racing tipsters as a basis for your selections.
I maintain lists of the best horse racing tipster for every month:
Lastly, as a final note, if you’re looking to analyse your sports betting performance or to simulate the results of any horse racing betting strategy under different conditions (e.g. staking plans) then check out Betting.com’s Portrolio Tracker. This powerful tool eliminates the need to build your own spreadsheets, and makes sports betting analytics a breeze.
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