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from our USA correspondent

Horse Racing – Handicapping Tips
03/08/12

Being able to properly handicap races is obviously instrumental in achieving any kind of results when betting on horse racing. Horse racing handicapping can be quite an intimidating undertaking for beginners though, hence its relative lack of popularity. Those who intend to make money off the races do indeed have to do their homework and more importantly, they have to know what factors to keep in sight when deciding the horse they want to wager on.

© Caroline Norris

Born To Sea

The first and most basic thing is to get a copy of the racing form or of the post parade. The racing form should be the starting point of your handicapping, but in order to truly comprehend the information contained in it, you will have to learn to decipher the codes used to express the past performances of various horses. The post parade is a similar document, providing information about the leading trainers and jockeys, which is indeed just as important. Make no mistake, while the horse is indeed the one doing the actual racing, how well it performs on the track is directly linked to the abilities and skills of the trainer. The trainer is the one responsible for attracting owners rich enough to properly fund their operations, while being able to pick the right horses and to maintain a competitive edge. None of those factors should ever be overlooked.

Another basic advice for beginners is to avoid races featuring large starting fields. This one is quite obvious as well: the more horses there are in the field, the more variables the handicapper needs to tackle, therefore the chances of him getting something wrong are multiplied from the get go. A good handicapper always paints a mental picture of how a race will go down, and this is much easier to achieve with smaller fields. Race conditions represent yet another extremely important handicapping factor. It is therefore imperative that rookie handicappers get the hang of how they influence race outcomes. Tracks usually play host to a mix of horse races, some of which fall outside the stakes category, where the most talented horses come to grips. These races are meant to give other horses the possibility to showcase their skills, but from a handicapper’s perspective, they’re a true mess of daunting variables. What the handicapper needs are races where the skills of the competitors are easier to weigh, therefore sticking to stakes races for better handicapping results makes perfect sense. Reading up on races, horses, trainers, tracks and various handicapping-related information, is a must of course, but it isn’t nearly enough. A good handicapper keeps his eyes and ears open at all times.

The amount of information shared by various parties in pre-race interviews, comments and analysis segments is often simply astonishing. While it would make sense for trainers and other insiders to attempt to deceive the public through the media, few ever focus on this aspect. Most trainers are way too busy running the stable and taking care of other race-related business to focus that much on the role of the media, therefore, they will mostly talk about their good horses when asked and they will generally be sincere.

Quite possibly the most important aspect of horse racing for rookies is the fun aspect of the whole thing. The bettor who has fun is likely to take possible losses in stride and much more likely to hang around till his handicapping skills get properly honed. For someone who’s in it for the money only, horse racing will prove to be a rather cruel mistress indeed. Those who take the time to pay the paddock a pre-race visit, and those who actually enjoy being around horses, will reap much more rewarding and longer-lasting benefits. Poker propping is definitely THE way forward for those who intend to someday be paid for the time they spend at the online poker tables. Poker prop deals are basically extremely generous rake rebate deals for which players need to fulfill certain obligations.

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