23/10/2015 8:55 AM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST

A Beginners Guide To Cup Day

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
ASCOT, UK. 18 JUNE: Racegoers celebrating after winning a bet on a race on Ladies Day of Royal Ascot at Ascot racecourse in Berkshire, England on June 18, 2015. The 5 day showcase event, which is one of the highlights of the racing calendar, has been held at the famous Berkshire course since 1711 and tradition is a hallmark of the meeting. Top hats and tails remain compulsory in parts of the course. (Photo by Tolga Akmen/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The Spring Racing Carnival is almost here and chances are you're either off to the races, hitting up a Cup day lunch or hoping to snag the favourite in the office sweepstakes (PS: No bragging if you do!) Either way, it's handy to have some intel on horses and how to have a flutter beforehand. But where to start? Racehorse owner and TrackMode blogger Nina O' Brien shares her insider knowledge on how to bet successfully.

Check The Form

"The form guide lets you know how your horse has performed prior to the race and what kind of ground it likes to run on," explains Nina. "So if the guide (found in a newspaper or available at the track) has lots of ones, twos or threes on the left hand side next to your horse's name that tells you where it's placed in previous races. Lots of ones = a good bet."

Breeding and good sense

"Some form guides will mention your horse's sire (father) and dam (mother),' says Nina. "If your horse's parents were champions, your horse could've inherited some race winning talent." Another way to pick a winner? Head down to the mounting yard and eye up the talent. That's the horses, not the trainers ladies! "A good horse will have its head up, the coat will be glossy, the ears will be pricked, it will have muscle definition and will carry itself confidently," says Nina. So if he looks like the horse version of Hugh Jackman, chances are he's worth a punt.

Place your bets

At the TAB counter at the track, you can place a variety of bets, usually by filling out a betting slip which asks:

• what race you're betting on

• which horse you want to bet on

• what type of bet you want to take

• how much you want to bet

Simply tick your options. The most common types of bets include:

Betting for a Win – When you put your money on a horse finishing first.

Place bet - Will pay out whether your horse comes first, second or third (in races with eight or more runners only)

Each way - A combination of a win bet and a place bet. $5 each way means a $5 bet on a win, and a $5 bet on a place, making a total bet of $10.

Quinella - Betting on the first and second place winners, but in any order.

Trifecta - Betting on the first, second and third place winners, in the correct order.

Weight a minute

Always wait until it's been confirmed that your jockey has made weight after the race before presenting your winning betting slip to your bookie or at the TAB counter. "This just means that he weighs the same as before the race and hasn't cheated by offloading any extra weight he may have had to carry as a handicap," explains Nina. "Your bet can't be paid out until it's confirmed the jockey has made weight but once he has, you're in the money!"

Good to know

*You must be over 18 to bet in Australia

*Don't expect miracles! "Makybe Diva's (the first horse to win the Melbourne Cup three times) first foal sold for over a million dollars, but didn't win a thing," tells Nina. "Horse racing is always a gamble and even experienced race goers get caught out by 'sure things' that never win. Bet small and keep it fun."

For all the fashionable thrills and spills of Cup Day go to UBET.