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What Are Form Reversals?

If you are betting on british horse racing betting sites, one of the most important indicators you will look at before placing your wages is Form.  To help you learn more about Form, I have been focusing recent articles on a comprehensive exploration of the concept.  To get started, be sure to look at the first article in the series, What is Form in Horse Racing?.  Next, read on to Determining If a Horse is In Form to find out how you can analyse recent workouts and races for layoff and non-layoff horses.


Read the articles I linked to above, and you will find out all about the Form Cycle:

  • In Form
  • Rounding Out Of Form
  • Off Form
  • Rounding Into Form


A horse that is In Form is in prime condition and is considered highly competitive.  A horse that is Off Form is in poor condition and is not competitive.  Horses usually gradually transition from one stage to the other, a process which is called Rounding Out Of Form or Rounding Into Form.


Sometimes however there are exceptions, times when horses transition quickly (often surprisingly) in or out of Form.  This is known as a “Form reversal.”  Form reversals may be positive or negative.  A horse which is Off Form may abruptly recover and rapidly improve, or a horse which is In Form may suddenly degrade.  In both cases, there are usually identifiable explanations.


Why Do Negative Form Reversals Happen?

Why do horses suddenly go Off Form?  There are a number of reasons why it can happen, but here are some common explanations:

  • Injury or illness.  Naturally if a horse gets injured or sick, it is not going to be in peak physical condition.
  • Change in trainer.  The trainer is an incredibly important factor in the success of a horse—consider how many trainers have multiple big winners in the same festival every year.  If a horse loses a top trainer and is given a poor trainer, that horse could suddenly lose Form. 


How do you spot warning signs when a horse is about to suddenly go Off Form?  In some situations there is no warning at all—like a sudden accident or illness.  But if a trainer changes and you are following the news, you would spot it if the replacement trainer isn’t going to cut it. 


You will also notice bad signs in races leading up to the apparently “sudden” drop in performance in some cases.  For example, a horse may be working out less or working out slowly.  Horses that suffered an early decline in speed in recent races may also be on their way to a negative Form reversal.  It may take other punters by surprise when it happens, but it does not need to startle you—or cost you money!


Why Do Positive Form Reversals Happen?

Sometimes a horse widely considered Off Form suddenly wins a race by surprise—and may actually be In Form from that point forward. 


Why do these reversals take place?  Here are a few possible factors:

  • A change in training.  Just as a switch from a great trainer to a poor trainer can result in a negative Form reversal, a switch from a poor trainer to a gifted one may cause a positive Form reversal.
  • The use of illicit substances.  Horses taking illegal medications may show a sudden improvement in Form.


As with negative Form reversals, there is sometimes no warning sign when a horse is about to start running well, but there often are some giveaways.  For example, if a horse that works out poorly suddenly produces an outstanding workout, it is known as a “wake-up workout,” and it may indicate that a positive Form reversal is on its way.  A horse that puts on a sudden burst of unusual speed in a race may also be preparing for a Form reversal, especially if that speed takes place at a point in the race where it is not typical for that horse. 


Now you know all about Form in horse racing and how you can use it to help you handicap!  Be sure to read on to my next article, “What is Class in Horse Racing?”. While Form is the best-known indicator for horse racing performance, Class is another key concept that you need to understand before you can handicap successfully.


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