Paddock Watching Tips
Paddock watching is an excellent way of helping to pick out a winner. You have a huge advantage over the people in the betting shops as you can view the runners up close. Discover now how the professionals judge a horse's appearance to help confirm the winner.
If paddock watching is something new to you, I would suggest that you start by choosing races where there are only a few runners say a maximum of seven. This is because you will need patience and concentration to stand next to the paddock carefully examining each of the runners.
You should also look towards the best race on a days card. If there are only a handful of runners, you'll be in business. As it's the big race, all entrants will be fit giving you the experience of knowing exactly what a fit horse looks like. As you become more experienced, you can dabble in the bigger races with larger fields as spotting the fitter animals will be easier.
Sweat is a factor of consideration by the professionals. Alike humans, horses will sweat either when they are very fit or very unfit although a fit horse will sweat less as a rule. A small build up of sweat on a horse's coat is a good sign. This means the horse is keen and ready to race. A light ring of sweat between a horse's back legs is also a good sign of keenness. A heavy build up however is not.
Watch out for horse's working themselves into a sweat shortly before a race. This will be through being nervous or just silly acts of exertion. Avoid these horse's as they won't do themselves justice. Also, you might get an ok view if the horses on the TV but if your down at the track take along a pair of binoculars.
A horse's muscular definition is another important factor and there are three main areas to look at.
Firstly, look at the hind quarters. (The section behind the saddle) Look for a sharply defined line from a point about a quarter of the way down the rump through to the top of the rear legs. This line is a very good indicator of a horse's condition. The sharper the line, the fitter the horse.
The second area to look is the belly. Look for an indication of rib cage. Not too much as this could indicate under-nourishment. A little amount of rib cage indicates a low fat fit horse.
Thirdly, look towards the horses chest, especially the section above their forelegs. A chest that is well defined means good fitness.
The condition of the horse's coat is another factor to consider. A glossy, shiny coat is an indicator of fitness whilst a dull one is not. It is important to realise though that dismissing an animal because it has a dull coat would be wrong as naturally shiny coats are rare.
Look to judge the horse's overall behaviour and appearance. A horse that walks around (going through the motions) with its head held low will probably not run well. In contrast, a horse that has a spring in its step and head up looking keen is likely to run well.
Whilst a horse's appearance is a factor in determining selection, you must use this knowledge alongside other criteria like a horse's recent form, its going preferences and its odds.