These days, there’s a broader choice of sports to get involved in than ever before. Those that were once unknown outside specific geographies now have fans across the globe, from the NFL’s huge popularity in the UK to cricket’s growing audience in the USA. And then there’s the all-new world of eSport that is capturing the imaginations of millions.
But still, there’s something uniquely special about horse racing. For one thing, it’s a sport with a history that dates back hundreds of years. But for another, if a horse race clashing with the state opening of Parliament can almost lead to a constitutional crisis, this is surely a sport that you need to get to know.
Types of racing
Horse races fall into two main categories, flat racing, and jump racing. Famous flat races include the Kentucky Derby and The Oaks and are simple races from point A to point B. Jump races have obstacles that the horse and rider must clear, a little like a hurdles race in athletics. Examples of world-famous jump races include the Grand National and the forthcoming Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Horse and rider in perfect harmony
Regardless of the type of race, winning depends on man (or woman) and beast working together in perfect harmony. Having said that, here’s an important point to keep in mind if you’re choosing which horse to back. A good horse can still beat the rest, even with an inexperienced jockey. But if the horse is slower than the rest, it will still come in last, even if the best jockey in the world is in the saddle.
Study the form
Horse racing is one of the most popular sports to bet on for a reason. Horses are predictable and consistent in their performances – more so than football players or racing drivers. Getting to understand the horses by studying the form is the most important thing to do if you want to back a winner.
That’s not to say it’s an easy thing to do – even the professionals make mistakes. You have to take into account a whole lot of factors, including the horse’s fitness, the type of surface, the distance of the race, and the weather conditions.
Make smart use of each-way bets
The simplest type of racing bet is simply to back the winner. But often, there are a disproportionate number of people backing the favorite, so the bookmakers are forced to shorten the odds. It means there’s more value in backing a long shot with an each-way bet. So when looking at the Cheltenham odds, for example, we can see that bookmakers have A Plus Tard as a 3/1 favorite.
A smarter bet might be on a horse like Chantry House. Trained by Nicky Henderson, this is a horse that is just returning to top form, and won his last race, the Cotswold Chase, at the same track in January. At 16/1, he looks a far more tempting proposition.