Timeform is one of the best horse racing resources out there, fact.
Timeform is one of the biggest and most reliable information sources in horse racing, spanning several decades. If you’re punter into form study, or an exchange trader looking in-running data, it’s got it all…
In this article, I’m going to run through all the features that Timeform has to offer, what are the benefits of using them and how they can improve your betting and trading.
What is Timeform & Why Use it?
Founded in 1948 by one of the legendary punters Phil Bull. Everything with Timeform is centred around adding value for the racing fan. A lot of racing websites have geared themselves towards adverts and bookmaker offers, but Timeform has always focused on finding winners, providing excellent race analysis and also providing solid statistical information.
Over the years I’ve met many pro punters and traders that use Timeform on a daily basis. The site has a huge amount to offer, so I’m going to break down each angle and discuss why it can help you.
Top Timeform Features:
There is a section on site called Timeform features, and this is a place to find some excellent articles on the top races and an in-depth look at topics like horses to follow or top three-year-olds. For the purpose of this article, I’m going to view the best features I can find a good use for (because there are so many).
My favourites for trading are; Prices traded in-running, Betfair SP data, In-Play Hints, Symbols and Trainer Form. All those can really help when finding back-to-lay trades or getting an idea of what horses are more likely to move when doing my morning research.
Prices Traded In-Running: This an excellent feature for anyone looking for back-t0-lay opportunities as well as reviewing form. It’s nice to see what prices each horse hit in-running when you weren’t able to watch the market live, or you’re watching the races back in the evening. For in-running traders, you can quickly understand how important it would be to have this data available without the work of tracking it yourself. If a front runner has traded shorter than his Betfair SP on six of his last seven starts, then it’s one to watch out for in-play.
Betfair SP Data: Betfair SP data is mostly used by professionals rather than the casual punter, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important for everyone. The best way to explain how important Betfair SP data can be is to put it in betting terms. If you can find something that’s profitable when backing it blindly at the Betfair SP, then it becomes exceptionally profitable in the morning or further away from the off. If we take the Betfair SP to be the true price or as close to the true price as possible, which is generally the view of most punters, then finding something profitable at the SP will produce bigger profits when betting at bookmaker prices. For example, backing first-time runners for a certain trainer at the Betfair SP might be profitable at 4.0, but the average price at the bookmaker prices might be 6.0. That’s how edges are found these days. The bookmakers may have turned into accountants focused on percentages, but so have a lot of punters!
In-Play Hints & Symbols: Timeform in-play hints will cut down on the time needed to find edges in-running. For example, I have a daily front-runner list (you can find that here) but Timeform offers a list with general price hints, pace forecasts, specific pace hints and short-priced hints. So for example, if I look at my daily list to find a possible front-runner but then Timeform in-play hints suggest it won’t get an easy lead in the race then that wouldn’t be a good opportunity to back-to-lay. The symbols are just as helpful too, and again they will put me off a trade or make me more confident depending on what symbol I see. You can find the list of symbols explained by Timeform themselves here.
Trainer Form: Trainer Form flags are another helpful tool that cuts down on my research time. In a nutshell, I’m looking for what the pundits are going to discuss on Racing TV and At The Races as we get closer to the start time. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of it is waffle, but there are certain things that can move the market when the pundits make a bullish comment. Trainer form is something everyone understands and the average punter at home wants to back. You have other factors at play too, rolling Acca liabilities with the bookmakers that feed into the Exchange – all this comes together to make knowing what trainers are in form helpful. Rather than waste time, I simply just check the Timeform Trainer Flag!
How Much Is Timeform?
A lot of the Timeform website is free to use and certainly, a lot of the daily resources that I need are free. However, the more professional user needs Timeform Race Passes. This is TimeForm’s subscription service that offers access to Timeform ratings, analysis and flags. Timeform ratings are viewed as one of the best within the horse racing industry and I have already explained how helpful the flags can be above – however, that was just for trainers, Timeform flags can be applied to anything – jockeys, horses, etc.
To buy Timeform Race Passes it costs:
- One day race pass: £10
- Seven-day race pass: £40
- Monthly race pass: £70
- 28-day race pass: £75
Clearly, the best value is the monthly race pass for £70. Timeform says that race pass users get “access to additional features that add extra levels of insight, including complete performance histories, an extensive form archive and unlimited use of Horse, Jockey and Trainer searches.” You can see why the more professional punter or trader would see Timeform Race Passes as a must.
Guide To Using Timeform
There’s so much going on with the Timeform website, it can be overwhelming to new users. There’s no need for it to be though, it just offers so much that everyone is happy. You might not need all the features, just a handful of the very valuable ones specific to your trading.
Timeform can be broken down into three sections. These are:
- Ratings & Symbols
- Timeform Flags
- Form & Analysis
Within these three headings, usability is broken down further. For example, you might use the Form & Analysis section but not use the ratings sections. Personally I would use bits of each section, but each to their own.
The sections broken down offer…
Ratings & Symbols:
- Rating – The higher the rating, the better the horse
- Small p – Likely to improve
- Large P – Capable of much better (massive improver)
- Plus – Might be better
- Squiggle – Unreliable
- Double squiggle – One to avoid
- Cross – Poor jumper
- Double cross – Very poor jumper
- Query – Suspect rating (needs reviewing)
- Horses In Focus – One to look out for
- Warning Horse – Potentially bad value
- Sectional Timing – One of interest “on the clock”
- Horses For Courses – Good record at the track
- Jockey Uplift – Jockey ranked better than recent riders of horse
- Trainer Uplift – Noteworthy trainer switch (trainer ranked higher)
- Hot Trainer – Trainer in good form
- Cold Trainer – Trainer in bad form
Form & Analysis:
- Pace & Position – How this race might be run
- Horse Search – Search function, horse tracker
- Premium Comments – Lifetime form detailed with an expert summary
- Ratings Of Winners – What rating it generally takes to win this race
- Jockey & Trainer – How the jockey and trainer stats and form stack up
- Premium Form – All the Timeform data needed for each race
- Briefing – Meeting summary
- In-Play Symbols – A horses running style and positioning, what it’s likely to do
- Race Reports – Runner by runner race reports by Timeform experts
You can see by the headings what a wealth of information Timeform have on offer. You can also see just how important some of these features would be to the professional punter. Traders are looking for a quick edge to get in and out of the market, whereas professional punters are pricing up races and backing the horses they see as value. They have to place heavy importance on form study and race analysis. They need all the tools and features Timeform have on offer.
Rather than explain each feature individually because everyone is different as to what would be of interest to them, Timeform have a very helpful Guide where they break down each section and explain it. You can read that here.
Timeform Ratings are viewed as one of the industry best. Apart from elite level professional horse racing punters who can create their own ratings, Timeform is probably the best out there. Indeed, most professional punters would use Timeform Ratings as a guide to their own betting.
Each Timeform racecard is already adjusted to weights per runner in each race which is clearly a massive help for those studying form. The aim, as Timeform says, is to “present the data in a form in which it may be of greatest practical use in assessing the prospects in a race.”
How Timeform arrive at their Ratings is fascinating, and for any young horse racing form student, I fully recommended reading this page on the logic behind Timeform ratings. If you’re going to create a book for morning prices, or adjust horses based on how they run, then some of the strategies on that page will really help you. Even just for race reading, it will be a massive help to you. When you know what Timeform are looking for within a race, it becomes easier for you to spot it too. The same can be said for in-running traders about how horses are travelling.
Daily Timeform Features
Although Timeform provides a very high level of horse racing content, you shouldn’t feel that it is just aimed at the professional. It’s just so good the professionals use it. For the average punter, it will not only help you improve your betting, trading and race reading skills – it will also provide everything you need for checking results and keeping up to date while out and about.
Let’s call a spade a spade here, most horse racing fans will work 9-5 Monday to Friday and they will have a look at the form the night before, place their bets then or in the early AM before heading to work. They won’t have time to watch racing all day. This is where Timeform results, alerts, horse tracker (My Timeform) and the App comes into its own. It’s a million miles better than the Racing Post App which most punters use. As they say these days, you can “level up” with Timeform over the Racing Post.
For those of you just starting out on the horse racing journey, usually, the Racing Post App is the go-to. Why should it be? Why not aim higher and learn quicker. It will stand to you as you pick things up. The previews on Timeform will certainly be of a much higher standard, and the racecourse guides are also at a higher standard than we see on the At The Races website.
For those of you who love the dogs, Timeform also provides a Greyhound section on their site. Much like the horse racing section, it provides the Betfair SP data for every runner in the results section which is a huge benefit if that’s something you like to check. Again, you have the opportunity to research strategies to see are they profitable at the Betfair SP and go from there. Certain trainers might like certain courses for example – you only find out if these strategies are profitable when backtested against the Betfair SP.
It’s fair to say that the greyhound section of Timeform is a lot more basic compared to the horse racing section. However, this is understandable given the size of the sport. There aren’t many big greyhound websites out there that will provide the same platform as we have for horse racing.
As far as Timeform goes with greyhounds, you will get the racecards, results, Betfair SP data, a tips section and a guide to greyhound betting – which is very good if you’re a beginner!
Biggest Benefit To Using Timeform…
I use Timeform on a daily basis. The main reasons why I use it are:
- A quick scan over the daily cards (start times)
- To check the in-running data for the horses on my list
- Use the tracker for certain horses
- Flag trainers in form and possible market movers
- Results (when not watching)
- Interesting articles that might pop up
That’s my use of the site in a nutshell, but you can see why it helps me daily. Clearly one of the biggest things that will help me is the in-running price data, as I’m sure will be the same for most Betfair traders.
After that, I can see why a lot of professional punters would need to use Timeform Race Passes, and it’s a massive recommendation that the majority of the punters I rate use the site.
From my point of view, I think Timeform can add the most value to anyone starting out on their betting or trading journey. Think about it; you get a much higher level of research, articles and tips along with detailed cards for form study. I can see how it might overwhelm a newcomer, but if they stuck with it I feel they are far more likely to be successful than starting with the basic Racing Post.
What are your experiences with Timeform? Have you used Timeform ratings before? Let us know in the comments below.