How to do Your Own Horse Race Handicapping

racetipsWith most of Europe’s major races in the books for 2016, the attention now focuses on the Melbourne Cup Carnival in Australia and the Breeders Cup in America. While there are currently plenty of race tips for Melbourne Cup day being offered by tipsters and online bookmakers, it’s always preferable for race-goers to learn how to do their own handicapping. That way, all a handicapper needs is access to Melbourne Cup odds and a place to wager.

Handicapping a Race Like the Melbourne Cup

The Melbourne Cup is scheduled to be run on November 1 at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. This is a great race to handicap because of the size of the field, usually 20 horses, and the staying distance of 3200 meters.  This year’s race might include horses from Australia, England, France, Germany and perhaps Japan. After looking through the list of past winners and the associated winning Melbourne Cup odds, this is not a race on which someone would want to take short odds.

Tools of the Trade

Racing fans and gamblers are not expected to pick winners in a vacuum. Throughout the world, there are publications available that provide statistical information about the horses, trainers, jockeys and even racetracks. It’s foolish to attempt to handicap without the necessary data, keeping in mind that things like race tips for Melbourne Cup day can be unreliable and arbitrary.

In Europe, the most popular publication for handicappers is the form guide. On a race-by-race basis, data is provided for each horse entered, along with selected data provided about trainers and jockeys. By employing one of several handicapping methods, this information is very useful for the purpose of at least identifying contenders and pretenders.

Handicapping Methods

Most experienced handicappers fall into one of three categories: class handicappers, speed handicappers or trip handicappers. Here’s a brief description of each betting strategy.

Class Handicapping: Based on a horse’s proven level of ability, horses can be rated by class. From best to worst, the classifications are stakes horses (levels 1, 2 and 3), overnight handicap horses, allowance horses, high-level claimers and low-level claimers. As horses move up and down in class, the can create wagering opportunities as improving horses, or signal they are out of form as they move down the ladder. In some cases, horses moving down in class might improve given the chance to run against lesser competition. Class handicappers use these class moves to help isolate horses that could provide wagering value. The Time Form ratings provided in the form guide can provide insight about a horse’s true level of ability.

Speed Handicapping: Speed handicappers are interested in how fast horses have shown the ability to run at certain distances. In some cases, experienced handicappers will develop their own speed figures to be used as a basis of comparison between horses that have been running in different races, at different racetracks, racing at different distances. If a horse runs consistently faster speed figures than a majority of the other horses in a field, they would certainly have to be considered contenders.

Trip Handicapping: Trip handicappers like to focus on horses that appear to have run poorly in a recent race, but might have been compromised by circumstances. If a horse was making a move and got blocked while trying to accelerate, the effort might have been compromised, indicating they might be better than the data suggests. If a late closer appears to have been unable to use their closing kick, it might have been because of a slow pace upfront. The running style was compromised. Trip handicappers love wagering on horses next-out that might have been compromised the race before.

Learning to handicap races on your own takes time and experience. However, the rewards you gain by successfully picking winners on your own makes it worth the effort. By employing one or more of the methods listed above, you can take a big step towards being a good handicapper.