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What is Form in Horse Racing?

If you are learning how to bet on horse racing betting sites, one of the most important factors you will pay attention to is Form


What is Form?  Form refers to the physical condition of a horse.  When a horse is in good condition, we call that being “In Form.”  If the horse is in poor condition, we call that “Off Form.”  Horses that are “In Form” are going to run well.  Horses that are “Off Form” are going to struggle. 


In other words, a horse that would be a strong contender In Form may not be so hot Off Form, and may even lose to a horse that would otherwise be considered an inferior competitor.


How can you figure out whether a horse is In Form or Off Form? 

The best thing to do is focus on recent races and workouts.  Focus on the past 45 days.  If there were no races during that time, you can just look at the workouts (I will delve into this more in the next article (link to: Determining if a Horse is In Form or Off Form). 

Horses are not suddenly “In Form” one day and then “Off Form” the next (unless there is some kind of accident or injury).  Like human beings, they go through cycles and often come gradually in and out of Form.  There is actually a name for this, the “Form Cycle.”


There are four stages in the Form Cycle:

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


Let’s define each of these:

  • In Form:  A horse is defined as being In Form when it is in good physical condition.  It has done well in recent workouts and races, and can run at or close to its best in its next race.  This makes it a strong contender so long as it is also competitive with Class, Speed, and Pace.  Certain horses may also run better in certain types of races and track conditions, so account for that as well when you are handicapping.
  • Rounding Out Of Form:  This is a horse which is no longer performing at its peak.  Its condition is declining, as evidenced through recent races.  Workouts may be less consistent.  Horses that are rounding out of Form are rarely contenders, and may even drop in Class
  • Off Form:  If a horse is in poor physical condition as evidenced through sporadic workouts and poor performance in recent races, that horse is said to be Off Form.  Outside of low level claiming races or maiden claiming races, horses like these rarely win.  If they do, it comes as a shock and is often still hard to explain.  This may be known as a “Form reversal".
  • Rounding Into Form:  As you have probably guessed, this is a horse which is improving in performance and moving toward peak condition.  You may notice that workouts are becoming more consistent, and that there are improving race results.  While a horse rounding into Form is not as strong a contender as one that is already In Form, it certainly has a shot at winning.  This is particularly true when the horse’s Class, Speed, and Pace are all in good shape and the racetrack conditions suit the horse. 


There is a strong focus on Form in handicapping for the obvious reason that Form gives you a great deal of information about a horse’s chances.  If a horse is Off Form or rounding out of Form, you probably want to steer clear of wagering on it.


If a horse is In Form, however, there is a good chance of success.  And if a horse is rounding into Form, it may represent a great opportunity.  You will probably get a somewhat better value on a horse that is rounding into Form than one which is already In Form.  You have a reasonably good shot at winning, and your bet may be more lucrative if you do.


Now that you know more about Form, it is time to learn more about another important factor in horse racing handicapping—Class and how class movements work in horse racing!


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