The attributes that make a winning racehorse

The attributes that make a winning racehorse

Attributes that make a winning racehorse

We all want to pick a winning racehorse, either as an owner or punter looking to make winning bets. But of course, it’s not the easiest of tasks. That’s the case for top races such as the Cheltenham Gold Cup but also true for a selling race at Uttoxeter.

What makes a winning racehorse? This article will look at some of the attributes that successful racehorses possess, and how you can spot them at the sales or on the latest betting odds.

The ground conditions

a jockey celebrating on a racehorse
Racehorses can prefer certain types of ground to race on.

Some racehorses prefer certain types of ground to race on. It may be that they only show their very best form on good ground. Others may have you praying for rain, so a soft ground specialist can have an improved chance of winning their next race.

That could be the case with 2019 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Al Boum Photo, whose wins have come on soft ground. A look at the horse’s pedigree will give you important clues as to which ground it will prefer. A racehorse that can perform well regardless of the ground conditions can have a successful career.


The right distance

Racing over the right distance is a key factor.  Often it will take a few races to work out the best distance over which a horse should run. Take Ajdal, for example, who in 1987 took part in the Epsom Derby over a mile and a half. That didn’t work out, and weeks later, he was moved back to six furlongs and won the Group One July Cup.

Desert Orchid a former racehorse
Desert Orchid a former racehorse.

A race such as the Cheltenham Gold Cup can see a horse racing over a longer distance than before. Will they be able to last out the extra furlongs on a difficult track such as Cheltenham will be a major question. At one time, Desert Orchid was considered to be a horse that should be raced over two miles but he still lasted out the three miles and two furlongs at Cheltenham.

You can check out the latest odds for the Cheltenham Festival to understand why some horses are made early favourites – their form and physical and mental attributes mentioned in this article are all used to determine the betting odds. For example, Al Boum Photo is at 4/1 for the Gold Cup, but that may change is the going is not looking to be soft closer to the event.


As in many sports, it is the consistent performer that is one of the most successful. Being able to retain your form for a long time is an important asset whether you are a human or a horse. When backing a racehorse, you need to have faith in the fact that it will put in a good performance and hopefully be a winner for you.

A horse that runs a good race one week and an average or poor one the following week isn’t going to be trustworthy.  Every horse can have an off day, but the more consistent they are at winning or coming close to finishing first, the better they can be.


A fighting spirit

It can often be a real battle to win a race, especially a highly competitive one, such as a Cheltenham Gold Cup. Being able to win a tight finish is a good sign that a horse can be a regular winner. If a horse is overtaken in the final furlong but can fight back and get its nose in front at the winning line, then that’s one worth backing.

Horses for courses

Kempton Park Racecourse
Kempton Park

Some horses are suited to certain courses. Believe It has won eight races, and each one of those has come on the all-weather track at Kempton. Backing horses that have won over the course in the past is something to consider.


The build of a horse is a good sign of how well it will race. Their bone structure must fit in with the size of the horse. Thin leg bones on a horse of good size aren’t going to produce a winner. Have a look in the paddock to see what the horses look like close up. A good strong horse is a likely winner but there are other areas to consider that aren’t immediately visible.

Mental Strength

A horse that won’t obey orders isn’t going to be a winning one. There’s a lot for a horse to learn during a career; those who adapt to situations will be winners. By beginning to understand horse behaviour, you’ll know they need to keep calm before a race, and if running on the flat, they need to get used to being in the stalls. Unruly behaviour has often cost horses their races.

As you can see, there are plenty of factors that need to be taken into consideration when looking at what makes a successful horse. Few possess all these qualities, but the more they have, the better the chance of them having a successful career.


Never miss a news piece or an article. Subscribe and we'll send it all straight to your inbox each week.

We promise we’ll never spam! Take a look at our Privacy Policy for more info.

Just published

Gemma Tattersall and Arctic Soul. Photo credit: Event Rider Masters

Gatcombe Park’s Festival of British Eventing Cancelled Due to Economic Constraints

In a disappointing turn of events for equestrian enthusiasts, the iconic Gatcombe Park's Festival of British Eventing has been canceled ...
Mother's Day Gifts for Mums that like horses

8 Mother’s Day Gifts for Mums that Love Horses

Discover Great Mother's Day Gift Ideas for Mums that Love Horses with Everything Horse Magazine Here you'll find 8d Mother's ...
Abdulrahman Alrajhi & Ventago Longines Global Champions Tour 2024 Doha, day 1

Abdulrahman Alrajhi Rides Ventago to Victory on Opening Day of LGCT Doha

The Longines Global Champions Tour of Doha commenced in spectacular fashion at the renowned Longines Arena at Al Shaqab. Crowds ...
cannes stars win season opener in Doha. Podium shot

Cannes Stars Triumph in Thrilling Opening Stage of 2024 GCL Season

The equestrian world was set ablaze as the 2024 Global Champions League (GCL) season kicked off in Doha, Qatar, with ...
NIHI’S original horse whisperer, Carol Sharpe with a horse and client

Welcome to ‘Equine Wild Wellness’ at NIHI Sumba

Named as one of the best hotels in the world, you will find NIHI Sumba nestled within a hideaway in ...
Ride Egypt a horse and rider stood on sand

Discover the Majesty of Ancient Egypt with Ride Egypt’s “Palms, Pyramids & Pharaohs” Adventure

For travellers seeking a holiday filled with temples and tombs, pharaohs, and phenomenal experiences, Ride Egypt (described by a previous ...

Everything Horse Classifieds

Everything Horse Classifieds banner