Horse Racing Rookies - Selecting Horses for Fun (not Form)

This month sees the running of the annual Vodacom Durban July. Whilst this will be the first year the prestigious race is run behind closed doors courtesy of Covid-19, it will be broadcast on TV so you can still take part in the action from the comfort of your couch! If you’re looking to pick a horse for fun, not on form, we’ve put together a list of ways to select your potential winner!

Being in lockdown provides the perfect opportunity to study form for once the social distancing rules have been uplifted and we can once again venture on-course. For those who find the thought of deciphering the reams of numbers, names and comments in a race card completely overwhelming – we’ve got your back!

Whilst not ‘conventional’ and by no means scientific or proven, we’ve put together 8 tips for beginners for deciding on which horse to bet on. Having fun is the name of the game so don’t feel pressured to choose the crowd favourite – many an underdog has made themselves known by winning unexpectedly – and it could just be the horse who you choose for one of the following ‘non-form related’ criteria:

1. What’s in a name

Most race horse names, no matter how unique they may sound, generally consist of a combination of their dam and sire names. This way, one can trace the breeding fairly simply and their genetics give an idea if they’re better suited to sprints or long distance races. If you like a certain name or it relates to some significant or memorable aspect of your life – pick that one.

2. Cool, Calm & Collected

Most equine champions have a cool, calm demeanour – as if they’re seasoned professionals. Head down to the parade ring or watch in the pre-race canter past to catch a glimpse of their personalities. It’s not to say the tense, sweaty, uptight horses don’t have a chance, but generally the calmer, more confident horses tend to perform better.

3. Horses for Courses

Whilst many of us have our preferred shopping centres and retail outlets, so too do horses have a preferred course and distance – usually the course at which they’re trained. Check out which horses are trained at the particular racecourse as that might give you an advantage!

4. Colour by Number

One of the best way to pick horses as a newbie, is to choose the jockeys colours that most appeal to you. They could be bright and colourful, a meaningful pattern or just a set that caught your eye. The origin of the modern jockey silks comes from England and like a coats of arms, the distinctive colours, patterns, shapes and designs on the silks and caps are way to identify horse and jockey as well as the horse’s owners.

5. Winner Winner

There’s an old saying that winners keep on winning. Look out for horses who have won a race or two recently as chances are they may be on a winning streak! Also keep an eye on the jockeys – if any one of them is riding at the top of their form and having multiple winners then they may be the rider to follow.

To continue reading, visit pages 40-41 of the July issue of Equestrian Life SA magazine, available here:

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