How To Study Form at The 2020 Cheltenham Festival

How to Study Form at The Cheltenham Festival

Updated: 10th February

For all punters heading to The Cheltenham Festival in 2021, or whether they’re choosing to watch all 28 races from the comfort of their home taking a look at the form of the runners, jockeys and even the trainers will be an essential part of your research before you decide whether to place a bet in the horse racing betting we have on offer.

If you’re new to horse racing, taking a look at the betting or the racecards can be a daunting task as you're likely to be greeted with lots of numbers and information, but thankfully at we’ve got you covered so you can take a closer look at all our 2020 Cheltenham Tips and monitor their progress.

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Where Will I Find The Form Of A Horse?

If you’re visiting the Cheltenham Festival, you’ll likely buy a racecard to keep a close eye on all the runners that will head to post. Or if you’re watching from the comfort of your sofa, you can browse the racecards and odds we have to offer at Either way, punters will still need to know what all the info means.

There’ll be many different symbols punters will encounter in a racecard, which we will cover below. But the first thing you'll be looking for is their form from previous races. Found next to horses name, it will offer an insight into their most recent runs and just to the right of that will be their age and the weight they'll be carrying.

Recent Results

How a horse has performed in recent races will have a huge bearing on whether punters and bookmakers will think they'll run well. A horse with stronger form should be given shorter odds to pick up another victory, especially if they've got a string of wins behind them. Whereas those with longer odds will have normally finished outside the placings in many of their runs.

In terms of finishing positions, they may appear on the racecard looking like this:

Figure 1


Figure 2


But what does this mean for punters? From the first set of figures, punters will be able to see that this horse finished 1st in his last five, which means he stands a good chance of winning this race. The second set of figures show a horse with varied form in his last five runs, but he also managed to pass the post first last time out which could improve his chances to win at the Cheltenham Festival.

What other symbols may I encounter here

As well as the finishing positions of a horse within its form listings punters may also come other letters which will indicate whether a horse was able to make it around the grass successfully. So we’ve listed the letters you’re likely to encounter below:

P - this means the horse was pulled up during the race R - although the horse went to post this means it refused to race U - during the race the horse unseated the rider, and although it may have successfully completed the race, the result is void F - more commonly seen in the National Hunt Season this means a horse fell when trying to navigate either hurdles or chase fences.

Course and Distance Performance

Alongside or under the name of a horse on a racecard, punters are likely to encounter other letters which can be a key indicator in whether they’ll perform well in a race, or if they’ll peter off in the closing stages without making a challenge to the front runners.

The first letter you’ll want to look out for is C this means that the horse in question has previously won on this course, which if their heading to the Cheltenham Festival can be a key indicator for punters that they’ve got experience on either the New or the Old course.

The next letter punters will need to pay close attention to is D, this indicates that the horse has won a previous race over the same distance as the race in question. This will assist punters if they prefer to bet on horses with the stamina to make it over fences or hurdles.

There are occasions where you’ll see the letters combined into CD this means the horse in question has won over the same course and distance of the race, which means it’s a good sign that it might run well once again and potentially be a front runner.

If a punter is using this type of form to decide on whether a horse is right for them, the final set of letters they’ll need to look out for, and that is BF which shows that in their last run they were the beaten favourite. There could be a number of factors which influenced this including the condition of the track or they became unsettled in the paddock before the race so they should be discounted because of this.

Type of Track

Die-hard punters who traditionally take a look over the horse racing betting odds will also use another type of form to help pick out whether they think a horse will perform well in a race and this track type.

Currently in the UK, there are two types of surfaces which horses can run on, these are Polytrack and turf. Most National Hunt races are run over turf, so those new to the world of horse racing betting may need to take a look at the going conditions for the last few races that the horse took part in, as if the previous going conditions were heavy and it didn’t perform well, it likely prefers better ground.

Official Rating

Underneath the weight of a horse on the race is the official rating which has been awarded to them by the British Horse Racing Authority. There are many factors which contribute to this rating, including the number of races they’ve won, the distance they won by and the Grade or Class of the races in question. Basically, this means the better the race, the higher the horse rating will be.

What Other Factors Should I Be Looking For?

If you’re diving deeper into the form of a horse before heading to a race meeting or you’re choosing to place a bet from the comfort of your own home, you may also decide to take a look at which jockey will be partnering a horse, and whether they’ve won before. All of these can have a bearing on whether or not they can go on to win a race, as a jockey who is familiar with the behaviour of a horse can usher them into better positions in the closing stages of a race.

Punters can also consider whether or not the trainer has a good record at the course, which in terms of the Cheltenham Festival may mean looking at a few specific names such as Willie Mullins, Nicky Henderson or Gordon Elliott who are known to perform well on the big stage.

Hopefully, our form guide has given you some insight into what you need to be looking out for as you head to the Cheltenham Festival, but if you’re looking to place an ante-post bet we have all the biggest markets for the Grade 1 races at, including The Cheltenham Gold Cup and The Queen Mother Champion Chase

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All odds from the online sportsbook are correct at time of writing.

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