Secrets of the Paddock Watchers: Gambling on HORSE RACING for
Horse racing is arguably the most profitable sport for gambling on - but only if you make use of
the information at your disposal.
Punters who visit the horse racing tracks have a huge advantage over those in the betting shops,
as they can view the runners close up in the paddock and hence judge each horse's winning chances.
But you need to know what to look for. In this report our expert guide explains all:
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It's an old saying, and it's as true when looking
at racehorses as when looking at anything else.
Why? Because the appearance of a racehorse can be crucial in helping punters decide how well it is
likely to run.
Unfortunately, judging the fitness of a racehorse through its appearance is not an art learned
overnight. Horses are like human beings in that they come in all shapes and sizes.
Fitness in a large horse can be harder to judge than fitness in a small one - just one example of
how difficult it can be trying to tell a runner's level of fitness from its appearance.
But there are some general pointers that punters can look for when viewing horses in the paddock.
Follow these tips and you'll soon be able to pick out the potential winners.
Preliminary ruling or Preliminarily Rules
To start with, you'll need to concentrate. It takes patience to stand next to the paddock
carefully examining each of the runners.
Begin by looking at races where there are only a few runners - say no more than six or seven.
With only a small number of animals it's far easier to look at the important areas of each horse's anatomy.
Initially, concentrate only on the best race for a day's card. If this happens to be a contest
with only a handful of runners, you'll be in luck.
The reasoning behind this is that the top race will be the one contest where most of the runners
Hence, the majority of the horses will be fit and you'll get a good yardstick of what a fit horse
In races where there is a large field and poor prize money, many of the horses will be there just
for the outing. Of course they'll all be trying to win, but some more than others.
To experienced "paddock judges", selecting the really fit looking animals through their
appearance will be easy, but to novices almost impossible.
So, start with small fields contesting good class races. Before we consider what to look for in
the actual appearance of a horse, bear in mind that some animals will be enigmatic.
In other words, their looks won't bear any relation to how they run. Only through visiting
race meetings uk on a regular basis will punters get to know these horses.
For those who visit the tracks less frequently, it's a hazard that must be accepted as part of
the sport. Fortunately, not too many horses fall into this category.
Judging Appearance - Four Basics to Judge a Horse's Fitness
- Sweat - First, look to see if a horse is sweating. Like humans, horses sweat either when they
are very fit or very unfit.
A horse that is sweating profusely may go on to run either really well or really badly, although a
really fit horse is likely to sweat less than an unfit one.
That said, a light build up of sweat on a horse's coat is a good sign. It'll mean the horse is ready to go
and keen to race.
A light ring of sweat between a horse's back legs is a sign of keenness as well. A heavy build up, however,
is something that puts experienced paddock watchers on their guard.
Note that some animals, fit or not, sweat through becoming worked up and nervous. This will become more
noticeable as the race start time nears.
So, horses that have worked themselves up into a real sweat by the start of the race should be avoided at
all costs. It's unlikely they'll give their true running.
On the other hand, horses that sweat lightly in the paddock frequently dry out once they canter down to
the start. An interesting point here: experienced paddock watchers obviously have a big advantage overall.
However, at the start of the race at least, punters watching the racing on TV tend to get a better view of
the horses than those at the track. So when visiting races, do take along some binoculars.
- Condition Of Coat - The next thing to look for when judg fitness is the condition of a horse's
coat. Generally speaking, a shiny, glos: coat will indicate a fit and healthy animal.
As you might expect, a really dull one normally means the opposit Do note though, that some horses ral
have shiny coats, so dismissing an animal on these grounds alone would be wrong.
- Muscle Tone - The third area to look for when paddc side is the definition of a horse's
It's probably the most significant thil but, sadly, the hardest to judge. There are plenty of places to
look on a hors body when trying to judge muscle definition, but for the inexperienced here's three
to start with.
- First, look at the hind quarters (the bit behind the saddle). From a point about a quarter of the way
down the rump through to the top of the rear I look for a sharply defined line.
This muscle line - it's really obvious where there - is a pretty good indication of whether a horse
is in good condition Naturally, the sharper the line the better.
- Second place to look is the belly. You'll be looking for an indication of rib cage.
It shouldn't be too promine this might indicate that the horse is under-nourished - but a hint of
rib cage shows that not too much fat is present.
- Lastly, cast your eyes over the chest of each horse, especially the area abc their forelegs. A well
defined set of muscles here is a clear sign of fitness.
- Overall Behaviour - The last general thing to look for when trying to judge fitness through
appearance is a horse's overall behaviour or demeanour.
It's easier here to spot qualities that you don't want to see. Any horse that walks around the paddock in
a listless fashion with its head held low will probably not be fit.
Far better to see an animal with a bright eye, springing lightly around looking keen and alert. Equally,
a horse that is behaving in a calm fashion has more chance of running well than one playing up.
Horses that hurl themselves around the paddock and keep rearing up will be avoided.