Before each race
The pre-race action centres around the parade ring, which is where you can see the horses before each race and watch the jockeys, trainers and owners discussing tactics before the jockey is ‘legged-up’ on to their horse and is led out onto the racecourse. This gives you the chance to see which horses you like the look of. Some signs to take notice of are: good muscle tone (condition); shiny coat, bright eyes and an alert manner; a relaxed walk; it usually pays to avoid horses who are sweating profusely or are very agitated, (but for some horses this is normal).
You could pick a horse because you like its name, or the colours of its silks, but it is also worth studying the form. The form is simply the horse’s previous performances. Things to look out for include whether the horse has won or run well at Gowran Park before, whether it has won on the same going (ground conditions) as today or whether it has won over a similar distance as today’s race. There is more information in your racecard, or for very detailed form you can buy a copy of The Racing Post.
Once the horses start to leave the parade ring, you will have about 5 minutes or so to place your bets and take a position in the stands to watch the race. Placing a bet with a bookmaker might seem a little daunting, but for many it is part of the fun of a day at the races. The prices for each horse are displayed on the bookie’s board, and the prices will differ from bookie to bookie so shop around for the best value. State the horse’s name or racecard number to the bookie and the amount you want to bet. They will give you a ticket which you need to keep and hand back to claim any winnings. Check your ticket at the time of the bet to make sure it is correct. Winning can be collected at any time after the race, there is no time limit.
After the race, head back to the end of the parade ring and the Winners Enclosure. The first four horses to finish will return there, with the winner returning last, usually to loud cheers! You can watch the trophy presentation and then head off to collect your winnings (hopefully), before choosing which horse to back in the next race.
Before coming racing: It’s always fun to choose a horse early and try and get a better price, sometimes this is called ante post betting – lots of bookmakers also offer early prices on the day. It’s well worth having a search online. Shop around for Best Odds