This is not an exact science, but there are some things you can look out for to give you some pointers:
Does the horse look at ease in its surroundings?
A horse that is on edge or sweating could be exerting too much energy before the race, so it’s important to recognise if it’s relaxed or not before placing a bet on its chances.
Does your horse ‘look well in its coat’?
Is its coat shiny? Are its eyes bright? These are all signs of good health, so they’re a good indication of how race-ready a horse is when it is making its way around the Parade Ring.
Is it a good walker?
While strong walking is no guarantee of a fast gallop, many racegoers like to look for a horse with an athletic walk that covers the ground easily and a proud stance that shows it is ready to race.
Does the horse look fit and athletic?
It should not be carrying too much ‘condition’, i.e. extra weight. This can be a sign that it is not at full fitness yet, so it’s probably not a good bet with the bookmakers.
Does it have good muscle definition?
The horse you choose should have well-toned muscles and a well-developed rump and hind legs. These are the horses’ engine, but be sure to bear in mind the differences between Flat and Jumps racehorses; the former are usually leaner than the latter because they need pace over power, whilst Jumps horses need stronger legs to clear the obstacles.
Are there any lucky charms or superstitions?
Experienced paddock watchers may have a personal liking for different equine traits; some swear by big ears as being a sign of a willing horse or, when the going is soft, they may look for horses with big hooves.
Whilst none of these things is a failsafe way of finding a winner, visiting the Parade Ring is a chance to get up close to the runners before the race to choose your own lucky charm.