The Basics of Horse Racing

Horse racing is a sport with a long history that waxes and wanes with times of prosperity and depression, war and peace. Its popularity has increased since the 1970s when great racehorses like Man o’ War brought new crowds to the tracks.

Among the many things that are wrong with horse racing, according to animal rights activists, is its lack of an industry-sponsored wraparound aftercare solution for horses leaving the track.


Horse racing is an ancient equestrian sport that has evolved from a simple contest of speed and stamina to a modern spectacle with enormous fields of runners and massive amounts of money at stake. While the style of races and the types of events vary widely by country, its fundamental concept remains the same.

During the reign of Louis XIV, gambling became a prominent feature in horse racing and many of today’s rules can be traced back to this period. The sport is also notorious for using cocktails of legal and illegal drugs to mask injuries and enhance performance. Most horses will bleed from their lungs during a race, a condition known as exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH).

A horse must meet certain requirements to be eligible for a race. For example, a horse must have a pedigree that includes a sire and dam of purebreds. The term “condition book” refers to a schedule of races that a track will run over a given period of time.


There are a number of rules that must be followed during horse racing. These rules are designed to keep the sport safe for both horses and jockeys. Some of these include: not putting on excessive pressure on the rider and avoiding unnecessary urging with the whip. Additionally, riders must always be aware of the track conditions and jump any hurdles that may be present.

Horse races are usually divided into different levels of competition, called classes. These classes are based on the horses’ previous race results and performance. This allows for fairer betting odds and higher prize money. The term each way, or E/W bet, is used throughout the world but has different meanings in different places. In the United States, bettors see a payout only if their horse wins, whereas in Europe and Britain, bettors are paid out if their horses win or place based on the placing criteria. These payments are a fraction of the full odds of winning the race.


Whether you are an experienced horse race player or a novice, there are some basic rules that you should know. This will help you choose the right horse and beat the odds. Some players rely solely on past performance, while others comb through pedigrees, compile speed figures and study other factors. Whatever your strategy, there are some symbols that you should look for on a racecard to determine the winning horses.

The first thing to look at is the horse’s name and form. There will be a number beside the horse’s name that represents its latest finishing position in a race. For example, a ‘5’ would indicate that the horse finished fifth last time out. There will also be a list of abbreviations for the horse’s previous races. These include f (fell), p (pulled up), u (unseated rider) and r (refused). These can be important to note because they can have an impact on the horse’s racing performance.


Horse racing odds are a crucial part of understanding horse races. They show how likely your preferred horse is to win the race and provide a reliable guide of how much you might be paid out in case it wins. However, traditional odds are not easy to understand and can be confusing for beginners. As horse racing wagering is a profit-making operation, bookmakers build in a margin within the odds they quote for each race.

The odds are fluid leading up to the race, and they are dictated by the amount of money that has been wagered in different pools. For example, if more money comes in on one particular horse, the odds will go down, while those that do not receive much money will see theirs increase. This is why only a small percentage of punters (perhaps 2% to 5% if recent anecdotal evidence can be believed) make a long term sustainable profit from their horse race betting.