The Ultimate Guide on How to Read a Racecard

by S. Ateljevic  ·  May 16, 2021

The modern horse racing industry is a complex area with lots of elements to consider before betting. The same applies to greyhound racing, and that’s why racecards provide punters with valuable information. Even though racecards have existed for decades, many punters find them overwhelming and confusing these days. If you share the feeling, this guide will help you learn how to read a racecard and steer your betting career in the right direction.

So, without further ado, let’s dive into the world of racing guides and betting forecasts.

Six Quick Facts About Racecards

  • Racecards act as guides for the daily racing programme at a particular meeting.
  • Punters can find lots of details related to a race in a racecard.
  • Bookmakers use combinations of numbers and letters to fill racecards with relevant information.
  • The racecards layout can differ from one bookmaker to another. Also, online racecards are different from the ones in newspapers.
  • Racecards provide insights into the runner’s form, ground conditions, type of race, and many other elements.
  • Racecards for horses and greyhounds are available on the best UK betting sites.

Of course, going back to the basics is always a good idea. Therefore, we should first explain the fundamentals and then how to read a horse racecard. We’ll also look at the greyhound racecards and see what it takes to understand those racing overviews.

In any case, you’ll get a complete breakdown of the racecards used on the best UK betting sites. Even though online racecards differ from those in newspapers, the concept remains the same. So, let’s see what racecards are and what they can offer to an aspiring punter.

What Is a Racecard?

In essence, a racecard acts as a daily programme for a racing meeting. Like in many other sports, spectators at the races can purchase a little guidebook to provide them with information about runners.

Thus, a racecard can be a valuable tool for any punter. After all, successful betting is almost impossible without informed decisions. Whether you bet on horses or greyhounds, inside knowledge can make the difference between losing your investment or going home with a smile.

With that said, here are the most frequent racecards you’ll find on most new betting sites.

Horse Racing Racecard

As a traditional British pastime, horse racing betting is also an activity practised globally. Likewise, millions of punters use racecards to learn more about horses, tracks, and jockeys before a race.

Later on, we’ll elaborate on the elements you’ll find in a typical racecard for horse racing meetings. But for now, it’s essential to understand that racecards do not guarantee profits, and punters should use them only as research material before betting.

Greyhound Racecard

In recent years, greyhound racing dipped in popularity because of various reasons. Nonetheless, betting on dogs remains another favourite pastime of British punters. Likewise, millions of enthusiasts worldwide are in love with betting on greyhounds.

For that reason, racecards are a necessity. They hold valuable information about each dog, including the starting trap number, colours, previous runs, season’s best time, and so on. Therefore, your returns on greyhounds should increase after learning to read racecards properly.

How to Read a Racecard in the UK

Despite the first impressions, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to read a racecard. You only need a basic understanding of betting concepts to interpret the symbols on a typical card. Again, racecard templates might not be the same with every bookmaker out there, but this element only has a cosmetic effect. The premise is the same with all of them, no matter where you bet.

So, how to read a horse racing card if you are into betting on horses? The first thing you’ll notice is the so-called Header that displays the general information about the race. In other words, here you’ll find the date and time of the event, alongside the track’s name. Also, most racecards will include the distance, in either furlongs or miles.

After that, you can move to other elements of a racecard. For instance, every horse racing programme will include the name and number of a racehorse. Greyhound racecards will also show the colours of the dog’s shirt, such as blue, red, black, and orange.

Of course, jockeys in horse racing also wear variously coloured silks. Thus, most racecards include these colours, allowing viewers to recognise runners easily. Likewise, betting guides often mention breeders and a trainer, providing savvy punters with this high-value knowledge.

If you want to learn how to understand a racecard, we should also explain other elements it includes. For example, most racing programmes will mention the going, i.e., the current ground conditions. Ranging from soft and yielding to firm and heavy, the going is among the critical aspects to consider before wagering on horses.

Likewise, a typical racecard will list several other details about a racehorse, such as days since the last run or the total prize money. Similarly, both online and paper-based racecards include details regarding the horse’s form. In other words, you’ll see a series of numbers indicating the previous performances. In most cases, racecards show the horses’ placements in the last three to six meetings.

Additional Secrets for Understanding a Racing Card

Now that you know more about the primary elements, we should mention some other symbols that confuse the uninitiated. For instance, racecards for handicap racing come with numbers showing the allocated weight. Since every racehorse comes with a BHA rating (British Horseracing Authority), the handicap equalises the playing field and offers every runner a chance to win the event.

Handicapping is also a part of UK greyhound racecards, and the numbers next to dogs’ names show the added weight. Of course, the handicap affects the runner’s winning chances, so have that in mind when placing wagers.

Besides the handicap, a typical racecard will include letters for showing the racehorse’s colour, sex, or previous results at a particular track.

For example, the following abbreviations represent the horse’s sex and age:

g — gelding

f — filly

m — mare

c — colt

Of course, many will ask — What does b mean on a racecard? In this case, the letter shows the horse’s colour. B stands for bay, a reddish-brown coat frequently found in the horse racing world. Some other symbols for a horse’s colour are:

Br — brown

Ch — chestnut

Ro — roan

We should also mention the abbreviations representing the racehorse’s form. For instance, the most important ones are:

BF — beaten by favourite

C — course winner in the past

D — distance winner in the past

CD — course and distance winner in the past

F — fallen at the course

U — unseated rider in the past

And there you have it — a typical horse racing card explained. Admittedly, we didn’t list all the symbols that appear on the UK horse racing betting sites. Even so, the interactive platforms on the best betting sites will guide you in the right direction and explain the meaning behind each abbreviation.

Again, we should say that racecards related to greyhounds work in the same way. So, you’ll have no problem switching from one market to another.

What Is a Racecard Voucher?

Since bookmakers invest a lot of effort in acquiring the data for racecards, they cannot give them out for free. Thus, you’ll have to spend a few pennies on the racing programme once you arrive at the races. Or, you can use a racecard voucher to receive a racecard in return.

In essence, racecard vouchers act like gifts provided by bookies or other organisations. You can claim them through various promotional activities, and then grab a racecard for free.


Modern betting sites come with interactive platforms, offering customisable and eye-catching racecards. Nonetheless, the primary elements remain the same. Therefore, punters should have no problems with learning how to read a racecard, either in horse racing betting or betting on greyhounds.

So, master the art of reading racecards because these summaries offer a wealth of information valuable for betting. If your goal is to improve long-term returns, racecards can be a shortcut for massive profits.