Selection of Horses

Before describing the different criteria, it is important to clarify the term “placed” as we use it in this document.

“Placed” means:

  • 1 st in a race less than 5 runners
  • 1st or 2nd in a race 5-7 runners
  • 1st, 2nd or 3rd in a race of more than 7 runners
  • 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th in a Handicap race of more than 15 runners (except AUS)

We will firstly describe the 12 criteria common to all types of races (FLAT, JUMP and HARNESS). Then we will note criteria relevant to particular race types and, finally, we will apply the criteria to a real example.

  • LAST RACE CRITERION

The horse must have been placed in his last race, this is a sign of good form.
However, you might wish to consider as placed a horse that may have finished fourth or fifth in some cases, provided that the distance behind the winner is minimal (no more than 2 ½ for example).

  • DAYS SINCE LAST RACE CRITERION

In Harness, the horse must have run less than 3 weeks ago, 4 in Flat and 5 in Jump. This reference interval is a guarantee of maintaining the fitness of the horse.
If a horse has a longer rest period, make sure he has already been placed in these conditions.

  • JOCKEY/DRIVER CRITERION

The horse must have the same jockey as in his last good race or the horse is associated with a partner with which he has already won or been placed several times.

  • FORM CRITERION

The form of the horse must show that after a good performance it repeats its good outings, sign of consistency (e.g. a horse placed three times in a row). This can be just a fourth or fifth place (see criterion #1 – Last race), the important thing is to have dependable results.

  • DISTANCE CRITERION

The horse must have already been placed at the distance with a tolerance of ±½ furlong per mile (100 meters), it is an indicator of distance ability especially those that are specific like sprint or holding routes. It is possible to derogate from this rule provided that the horse has succeeded over distances longer AND shorter than the distance for this day.

  • RACECOURSE CRITERION

The horse must have already been placed on the same racecourse. If the horse never ran on this one, you can check that the horse has already been placed on the same type of track with the same specificities (for example an undulated course with an uphill finish).

  • LEFT-HANDED/RIGHT-HANDED CRITERION

The horse must have already been placed on the same type of turns, either left or right. The whole thing is to validate again a natural aptitude to a circuit, some horses go much better on the right or on the left while others seem to be ambidextrous and do well on both sides.

  • PIECES CRITERION

If the horse wears pieces (visor, blinkers, tongue strap, etc), he must have already been placed with them. But if he does not wear pieces, he must have already been placed without them.

  • PRIZE MONEY CRITERION

The horse must have already been placed at an equal or higher prize money of the day, this element is important and confirms the quality of the horse and, once again, to validate his good ability to different race conditions of the day.

  • FREQUENCY CRITERION

The horse must not have run too much, i.e. after about three (Flat/Harness) or two good races (Jump) in less than a month, the horse normally tends to lose the impulse.

  • PRESS REVIEW CRITERION

Check the comment on the last race. This one must be positive and encouraging (e.g. “has finished well”, “has never been worried”, etc). Sports journalists know their job and we can rely on it with confidence.

  • TRAINER CRITERION

The horse must depend on a trainer on good form. For that, check that the trainer in question has a success rate (placed runners) of at least 30% during the last 30 days for example.

Here is 1 specific criterion that applies to FLAT and HARNESS races:

  • SURFACE CRITERION

The horse must have already been placed on this type of track (sand, fiber, grass, machefer, etc). The whole thing is to validate an aptitude for a type of track because some horses (often of lesser quality) have preferences for a type of track (a crack horse will generally run well on all tracks).

Here are 4 specific criteria that apply to FLAT and JUMP races:

  • RACE TYPE CRITERION

The horse must have already been placed at the same kind of race (handicap, group stakes, etc).

  • CLASS CRITERION

The horse must have already been placed at the same class (grade), noted by a letter or a number depending on the country where the race is organized (e.g. class 2 in UK or class E in France). If no class is available, give one point for this criterion to all the runners.

  • GOING CRITERION

The horse must have already been placed at similar going with only one strong difference between the heavy and the good ground, for all the other grounds the difference is only small.

  • WEIGHT CRITERION

The horse must have already been placed at an equal or higher weight than the one of the day. The whole thing is to validate again a logical aptitude to carry such a weight and still be competitive.

Here is 1 specific criterion that applies to FLAT races:

  • STALL CRITERION

The horse must have already been placed at similar stall, with only one strong difference between low, middle and high numbers. If this is a straight line race, or if the number of runners is less than 7, give one point to all the runners.

Finally 2 specific criteria that apply to HARNESS races:

  • SHOEING CRITERION

The horse must have already been placed under the same conditions of fitting as the race on this day, this a very important element to trotting races.

  • POST CRITERION

The horse must have already been placed at the same starting post as today’s.