Make Yourself A Contender Finding Spreadsheet For Betting

(Last Updated On: April 13, 2016)

I wanted to share something with you today that you could put into immediate effect. Something hands on.

And, with that in mind, I started to make a list of everything that would be a useful tool for you to use in your betting.

By the end, the list was pretty big, so I would start at the top with how to make a contender finder spreadsheet.

The purpose of this article is to take you step-by-step through the process of creating a spreadsheet that is going to allow you to find contenders yourself.

Of course, you can add to this spreadsheet once you’re familiar with it.

Start by opening Excel or any other spreadsheet program.

The first thing we need to do is create some headers. Initially I’ve just put…

Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 23.43.00

As you can see, just the basics.

Next we need to consider what we want to consider when we’re looking for contenders. Generally there are four main areas:

  1. Form
  2. Class
  3. Speed
  4. Connections

Initially, to keep things as simple as possible, we’re going to give each horse a score for these four main areas. So we add those to our spreadsheet headers…

Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 23.46.01

Next we need to determine how we’re going to score a horse. For the purposes of this article we’re simply going to give horses a 1 or 0 for each of the factors.

A 1 means that the horse looks to be competitive in this area and a 0 means they don’t.

You can make this more advanced with percentages, but if you’re using form reading to assess this a 1 and 0 is all you need to be able to make good profits.

You should also start by using this techniques on races that you’re most familiar with. For me that’s all-weather sprints and so I’m going to use the 2:30 five furlong race at Lingfield on the day I’m writing this.

We’re going to focus on how to analyse one of each of these main areas across four articles, and today we’re going to start with form.

To make your assessment as fast as possible we’re going to use specific techniques. Here’s the race card for this race:

Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 23.47.09

We’re going to start by putting all the horses names into our spreadsheet so we can keep track of who we’re analsying.

Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 23.48.25

Next we click on Roy’s Legacy to bring up his past form:

Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 23.49.09

We start at the top at make a mental note of how much of his earnings has come from the race type that the horse is running on today.

Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 23.50.35

You can see that £25,728 of the £36,282 in earnings has come from All Weather racing, that’s over 70% and a good indicator this horse likes running on the All Weather. Make a mental note of this.

Next we want to see how this horse has fared on similar conditions in the past. To do this we scroll through the past races and pull out those races that were over similar conditions.

In this case there were 40 races over similar conditions and Roy’s Legacy won 8 of them for a 21% strike rate and was a contender in 13 (33%) of them.

So far the figures all look pretty good. But what we want to check is what races he didn’t contend in.

He never contended in a:

  • Class 4 or higher race
  • A race with more than 3k in prize money

And… almost all of the races he contended in were at Lingfield or Kempton.

Now we have some great information. This race is at Lingfield, the prize money for the winner is less than £3k and it’s a Class 6.

Let’s summarise this information:

Roy’s Legacy has earned most of his money from All Weather racing. He’s been a strong contender in 33% of them and those races he contended in match very closely to todays races.

At the moment he’s looking strong. But…

… we don’t choose whether he gets a 1 or 0 for this form yet.

And this is the mistake most people make. Because the most important aspect of this process is to compare him with the other runners.

We now want to repeat this process for each of the runners in the race so that we have a short snippet like this for each of them. Only then can we decide which horses get a 1 and which get a 0.

I’m going to repeat this process for each of the runners, and here’s what I get:

Roy’s Legacy

Roy’s Legacy has earned most of his money from All Weather racing. He’s been a strong contender in 33% of them and those races he contended in match very closely to todays races.

Pharaoh Jake

Pharaoh Jake has only earned just under 60% of his winnings from All Weather racing. He’s been a strong contender in 31% of them, but has only managed to win 9%. Of his All Weather racing he does seem to have a preference for Lingfield.


Novabridge has earned a small 34% of his winnings from All Weather racing. However, he’s won 14% of his races over similar conditions and been a contender in 45% of them. There seems to be no preference for track.

Quality Art

Quality Art has earned just under 70% of his winnings from All Weather racing. With an excellent 14% winning strike rate and 42% contender rate over similar conditions this horse could be a threat. There doesn’t seem to be any particular track preference.

Bubbly Bailey

Bubbly Bailey has earned an impressive 86% of his earnings from All Weather racing, but he’s earned significantly less than the other runners. He’s won 10% of his races over similar conditions, but as he’s only had a few that is just one race, and he’s contended in 30% of them. No preference has been shown yet but he has contended at Lingfield so track shouldn’t be a problem.

Now that we’ve got this information for each runner in the race, we can mark them with a 1 or a 0 under the form column.

But… we may not have more than half the field plus one marked with a 1. That means we divide the number of runners by two and then add one.

In this example there are just five runners so:

5 / 2 = 2.5
2.5 + 1 = 3.5

And then we always round down, which gives us 3. We cannot, in this race, have more than three runners marked as a 1 in any of our main areas.

We can go back through our summaries to see which are most worthy of being marked as a contender (1) for Form.

I prefer to do this by removing the horses I don’t want to give a 1 to rather than selecting those I do. This changes are focus from looking for strong elements, which most horses will have some of, to looking for weaknesses.

Compared to each other I would want to remove:

Novabridge because most of his earnings have come from elsewhere. Though he has a good win and contender rate on similar conditions it’s not significantly better than the other runners.

Pharoah Jake because he’s got a lower earnings from these race conditions than most and, although he has a good contender rate, his winning strike rate for these conditions is low.

That means Ray’s Legacy, Quality Art and Bubbly Bailey get a 1 leaving our spreadsheet to look like:

Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 23.52.25

That’s the Form part complete. While it will take you a bit of time to get used to this process, with a bit of practice you can do this in about five minutes per race.

Over the next week, practice using this approach to marking contenders for Form so that you’re ready to add Class in next week.

Don’t forget to only focus on those races that you’re most familiar with, that should limit you to analysing just a handful of races each day.

I’d love to hear how you get on with this, so please leave me a comment below.

Michael Wilding

Michael started the Race Advisor in 2009 to help bettors become long-term profitable. After writing hundreds of articles I started to build software that contained my personal ratings. The Race Advisor has more factors for UK horse racing than any other site, and we pride ourselves on creating tools and strategies that are unique, and allow you to make a long-term profit without the need for tipsters. You can also check out my personal blog or my personal Instagram account.


  1. With what criteria are you using to establish that Roy’s legacy was a strong contender in 13 of the said races was I E because he won or was 2nd or beat under 1 length ? Antony

    1. I use the criteria that the horse needs to come in top three or within two lengths of the winner. I do change the conditions slightly depending on race length but that’s the best average.

  2. Hi, I have searched everything I can think of on the site but I can’t seem to find any articles explaining the rest of the spreadsheet such as the class etc.

    Did it ever get written at all?


    1. Hi Stephen, the other fields work in exactly the same way. Look at the historic class of races the horse has performed well in, I actually prefer to focus on prize money rather than class number, make a note of the level the horse has performed well in and do this for each runner. The you can mark them as 0 or 1 depending on whether you think they have the class to be competitive in the race.

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