Horseracing has been at the heart of British popular and sporting culture for centuries and, for many, ‘having a flutter’ is key to the enjoyment of the raceday. A bet can make an already exciting race far more thrilling, backing your selection with cash and watching your chosen horse win is a great feeling.
No one can tell you who is going to win any given race – follow your favourite trainer or jockey, pick your favourite colours, go with a quirky name or even your lucky number. Others however relay on studying a horse’s form. ‘Form’ simply refers to how well a horse has been doing recently. You can find this information in the racing section of your racecard. (A racecard is like a programme that you can buy at a course, listing all the information you need to know on the day’s runners.)
A good start when studying the horses form is to ideally pick a horse that has run well recently. This can be highlighted by lots of 1, 2 or 3s in its form figures. Beware of the letters U,F,P, which stands for Unseated, Fell and Pulled Up, you could be taking a risk.
Following a trainer or jockey can pay dividends, especially if they are in form or have a strong record at Cheltenham. But don’t expect just because you have heard of a jockey or trainer that they will – your favourite jockey can’t win every race he rides in!Arguably, the most popular way to select a horse is by the jockey’s silks. It takes no skill or knowledge, but has proven to be very profitable. If red is your favourite colour, then choose a horse whose jockey will be wearing red. It doesn’t have to be your favourite; it can be the right combination that takes your fancy.Then, of course, there is the grey factor. Who doesn’t like a grey horse? If that is your view then head to the Parade Ring before the race and look out for a gorgeous grey. Alternatively, do the same but pick out the best looking horse and put faith in its performance on the track to match its star quality in looks.
Once you have made your choice, it is time to actually put your money where your mouth is. There are three ways to bet, with the rails bookmakers (look for the big boards full of starting prices and the bookies shouting out various odds), in the Betfred Booking Shop (which is the same as any bookies in any town centre) or with totepool. There are tote windows available or staff roaming in the hospitality areas, and they won’t bite so if you need advice or help then just ask.