Sports punters analyse niche data items more than ever before. Horse racing pioneered the use of historical data analysis as a basis for predictions — but there surprisingly aren’t many good sources of ‘form’ data.
In this post I recommend the best ‘traditional’ horse racing form stats & data sources, as well as some modern sites.
Stats Are Important For Every Sport — Especially Horse Racing
No sport has such strong associations with the use of stats & analysis than horse racing.
Punter’s have forever been searching for an edge by checking the horse racing form. The very sport exists because of betting, and it’s only recently that other sports — like football — have caught up in terms of the stats-based betting ‘culture’.
Why is the use of statistics so popular in horse racing?
Well there are so many measurable factors (or “variables”) that impact a race. Some of the most influential data items are:
- 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.
The bettor will often consider these factors, and deliberately or subconsciously assign a level of importance that this has on his betting selections (unless of course the selection is completely random).
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 his 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?
Popular (Traditional) Horse Racing Form Websites
► 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…
The Weakness In Using Horse Racing Form Data
I’m not going to make a secret of it: i don’t think that the majority of punters will hugely benefit from using the Racing Post or Timeform for anything other than the enjoyment of betting. In other words I don’t believe they give you the best chance of earning from your bets.
So why mention them?
Well, I shouldn’t let my views on value betting stand in the way of providing information on this site. These data sources do provide a lot of very accurate and up-to-date data. No grounds to criticise them. But i’ll explain why i wouldn’t turn to them myself…
► Successful Betting is about finding something that the majority don’t know
It’s like any business — those who have 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 naive to expect to go onto their sites and discover something that other bettors don’t already know about. There’s both recreational and professional punters studying and analysing the (same) data set in order to find an advantage. The 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.
Racing Databases — For ‘Raw’ Historical Data (Recommended)
The following websites provide a high level of detail. They give punters a stronger chance of finding an edge from their Horse Racing selection method:
- 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.
- 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.
- Adrian Massey. The free statistics on this 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. Then you’re free to refine and improve your method by adding/removing variables.
In another post i’m going to show you how to use Adrian Massey’s Horse Racing Form Database to back-test several strategies on Betfair.