Handicapping a Horse Race

horse race

A horse race is a thrilling event that has stood the test of time. It’s a sport that involves an intense and ruthless battle between horses and jockeys.

The term “handily” refers to a fairly strenuous workout in which a horse ran easily (without being urged by the jockey using the whip). It also means that a horse ran more sideways than usual.


Horse racing is one of the oldest sports in history. Its roots date back to the Greek Olympic Games of 700 to 40 B.C., when riders participated in four-hitched chariots and bareback races. The sport later spread to China, Persia, Arabia, and the Middle East.

Modern horse racing developed in England in the 17th and 18th centuries, when fast Arabian stallions were imported and crossed with sturdy English mares. The result was the Thoroughbred, a breed that’s still used for racing today.

In medieval England, professional riders would demonstrate the top speed of horses for sale by racing them in competitions. These early races were often short distances. It wasn’t until Charles II introduced the King’s Plate races that cash prizes began to be awarded. This era also witnessed the rise of race tracks and the first recorded rules of horse racing. The sport grew in popularity, and betting on horse races became a popular pastime.


A horse race is a competition in which horses compete against each other over a set course, jumping any required hurdles or fences. The object is to win the race by crossing the finish line before any of the other competing horses and riders. The sport requires skill and insight from the jockey and massive physical effort from the horse.

Individual flat races are usually held over distances of 440 yards (400 m) to four miles (6 km). Shorter races, commonly called sprints in the US and routes in Europe, are a test of speed while longer races are a test of stamina. A horse that can accelerate quickly in the closing stages of a race is said to have a good turn of foot.

A class of race just below a Group or Graded race in quality. Horses in these races carry level weights, with allowances for age and sex. Trainers must ‘declare’ their horses to run in a race and this information appears on the day’s newspaper and racecards.


When handicapping a horse race, knowing the meaning of the symbols used on the race card can make your decision-making much easier. For example, you can find out if the horse will be wearing blinkers or a bridle and what medications it may have been given during the previous races by reading the Past Performance Symbols.

You can also learn about the horse’s racing style by reading the corresponding numbers or letters that appear after each of its six most recent race results on the form. These numbers and letters indicate the horse’s running style, ranging from E (early) to P (presser).

The first line on the race card will display general information about the race and the horses involved, including the number of horses entered, the track condition and the distance of the race. In addition, you can see the initials that indicate the colors of the horses, ie Blk for black, Br for brown, Ch for chestnut and RA for roan.


A horse racing odds calculator helps you determine how much you can win on a win or place bet for a specific race. It takes into account all the information that you input and calculates your potential winnings based on the final odds/payout for each of your bets. It also offers compensation for Rule 4 deductions, Dead Heats, and other situations affecting the final odds.

Understanding the odds on a horse race is essential for any serious punter. Despite the best efforts of their teams of odds compilers, bookmakers can only provide accurate estimates of each runner’s probability of winning. As a result, they are able to build in a profit margin into the odds they quote for each race. For this reason, it is very difficult for punters to make a long term profit on horse racing wagers unless they can identify when the odds for a particular runner are over-generous.