Picking Winners and Avoiding Losers

If I could pick winning horses with regularity, I wouldn’t be writing this guide on ‘How to pick winning horses’. I’d be sipping champagne on the deck of my yacht and deciding whether to set sail for Martinique or Monaco! Let no one fool you; picking winners isn’t that easy. But keep reading as I will give you tips on how to stop wasting money on absolute donkeys.

Below I’ve highlighted six popular strategies people use to pick horses. I’ll give you my honest opinion on how useful these strategies are for finding a winner.

1. Random Chance (Pin-sticker)

Good old Lady Luck, this method of picking horse is a popular choice for the once a year Grand National punters. Being brutally honest; this is one of the quickest ways to lose money on the gee-gees. Of course, you can get lucky, but it’s highly unlikely to produce a profit over the long-term. If you want to use this method, grab a copy of the racing post, close your eyes and stick a pin in the page.

Chances Of Picking Winner: 1/10

2. Name

On the surface, picking a horse because you like its name doesn’t sound very scientific. And it isn’t. However, in some circumstances, it might prove slightly better than using the ‘Pin-sticker’ method. If you follow a horse over a season because you like its name, you’ll inadvertently become more familiar with the horse’s form. When scanning the sports pages, you’ll be more likely to notice when it wins and loses. When a horse finds its form, it will usually perform well over a couple of races. For example, if you fancied the Australian horse ‘Winx’ and backed her in every race since May 2015, you’d now be celebrating a 33 race winning streak.

Chances Of Picking Winner: 2/10

3. Silk Colour

Stick with me here, because this is a strange one. It seems like a thoroughly random way to pick a horse. You’d expect this method to perform poorly. However, it can produce positive results for one strange reason.

Let’s say you choose a horse because you like the blue silks the jockey is wearing. Not a very good reason for making a bet, but inadvertently you’ve picked one of the best horses in the field – without even knowing it. Those solid blue silks belong to Godolphin Racing, one of the biggest names in racing. Often you’ll find that the top owners want the most expensive silk designs. Typically these are the simple, bold plain colours schemes like the ones sported by Godolphin. In jumps racing the famous gold and green hoops worn by jockeys riding for JP McManus have produced 500+ winners over the years.

Chances Of Picking Winner: 3/10

4. Jockey

Picking a horse based on the jockey is a sound reason to make a bet. A good jockey can make all the difference to the outcome of a race. The top riders often partner the top horses. If you’re a trainer and you know your horse is primed to win a big race, do you book the champion jockey or the bloke who’s fell off three times in the last four races? One caveat I’d add concerns Conditional Jockeys; these are new riders who get a weight allowance to balance out their perceived inexperience. The conditional jockeys weight allowance takes off some of the weight added by the handicapper. Giving a horse a better chance of winning.

Chances Of Picking Winner: 5/10

5. Trainer

When a yard is going well, you can bet that the winners are flying in. Following a trainer is a great way to get a beat on the bookies. The more winners a trainer can rack up, the better quality of horses they can attract to their yards. Giving them more winners! However, when a trainer’s horses underperform, the reverse can happen. Owners will move their horses from a trainer who isn’t winning regularly. The pressure is intense – keeping an eye on how a particular yard’s horses are performing can pay dividends long-term.

Chances Of Picking Winner: 6/10

6. Form

The final method for finding a winner is the professional punters favourite, using a form guide. Regardless of what it says at the bottom of your investment portfolio. Past performance is a good indicator of future performance! You don’t often see a complete novice rock up and win gold at the Olympic 100m final. Usually, a gold medalist at the Olympics will have won National and International races before landing the big one.

It’s the same for racehorses, use a form guide to discover which horses who have performed well before over the course and distance before. Discount those horses who don’t fit the profile of past race winners. TimeForm produces fantastic form guides (paid), and nearly all National newspapers and sporting websites feature a form guide.

Chances Of Picking Winner: 7/10