Betting on horse racing can be complex due to the nature of the sport and all the intricacies involved. So, we have put together the below guide in order to get you up to speed on how to get the most out of your Horse Racing betting.
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Horse racing has two distinct forms — either without obstacles, known as Flat racing, or over obstacles, known as Jumps racing, or National Hunt racing. Within National Hunt racing there are two further classifications; Hurdle races and Chase races, with the difference being the type of obstacles the horses jump over.
As a general rule of thumb, Jumps racing runs through the winter and Flat racing goes through the summer, although in practice you can find both forms of racing running to at least some degree all through the year in the UK and Ireland.
Most horses are trained specifically to run in either Flat or National Hunt races, although again there are horses that will run in both Flat and Jumps races at different points in their career, or even the season.
The most common bet type in horse racing is a Win bet. This means, as you’d expect, you are betting on a certain horse to win the race. Each horse is assigned odds based on how likely bookmakers think it is to win the race, with the bigger the odds meaning the more money you get back from your Win bet.
You may also place your Win bet using Starting Price, or SP, rather than taking the odds on offer at the time. SP is the official starting odds for a horse, which is determined by a number of on-course bookmakers immediately after the start of the race. This is a risky way of betting as you have no way of knowing the odds of your bet until after the race has started. In this day and age, with the prevalence of Best Odds Guaranteed, whereby if the odds on your horse get bigger after you place the bet you still get the bigger odds anyway, SP betting is becoming less and less popular. But it is still an option.
If you are less certain that your horse will finish first in the race, or you would just like some insurance on your bet, you can change your bet to an Each Way (E/W) bet. If you choose to make your selection an Each Way bet, it essentially doubles your stake and turns your one bet in to two – one part of the bet is on the horse to win the race, with the other part being a bet on the horse to ‘place’, or to finish within a certain amount of runners at the front of the field, at a set fraction of the horses Win odds. Here is an example:
- The horse you want to bet on has odds of 10/1 in an 8-runner handicap race, and you want to bet £10. You then decide you want to make it an Each Way bet. You do this by simply ticking the ‘E/W’ box on the bet slip
- If the stake of your win bet was £10, selecting the E/W box will change your stake to £20
- £10 of your bet is now on the horse to come 1st at 10/1
- The other £10 of your bet is on the horse to finish in the top 3, at 1/5 of 10/1
- So, if your horse wins, the win part of your bet wins at 10/1 and the EW part wins at 1/5 of 10/1
- If your horse finishes 2nd or 3rd, the win part of your bet is a loser, however you still win money as the EW part will still pay out
Each Way betting is a great way to ensure you still win money even if your horse doesn’t win the race. Bear in mind though, different races will have different Each Way terms depending mainly on how many horses are running. This means the ‘place’ part of your bet will vary on where your horse needs to finish to be a winning bet, and also the fraction of the original odds that the Each Way part will pay.
Each Way place terms as are follows below:
|Type of Race||#Runners||Place Terms||#Places|
| ||5-7||1/4 odds||1,2|
| ||8 or more||1/5 odds||1,2,3|
| || || || |
| ||5-7||1/4 odds||1,2|
| ||8-11||1/5 odds||1,2,3|
| ||12 - 15||1/4 odds||1,2,3|
| ||16 or more||1/4 odds||1,2,3,4|
Bookmakers will often offer up enhanced place terms for Each Way betting, meaning you can get paid out for your horse finishing even further down the field in a race, so keep an eye out for those offers to ensure maximum profit.
This is a more advanced type of bet where you are betting on 2 horses to finish 1st and 2nd. This can be in the form of a Straight Forecast, where you need the horses to finish in the exact order you chose, or a Reverse Forecast, where the horses must finish in the top 2 but in either order. A Reverse Forecast (RFC) comprises of 2 bets, one in each order, and so your stake will be doubled.
Some of the types of horse racing bets may contain Rule 4 which you will notice if the text "Rule 4 may apply" shows. Rule A Rule 4 deduction in Horse Racing comes about if one of the horses in the race becomes a Non Runner (NR), meaning it will no longer compete. The odds available at the time a bet is struck are based on the chances which a bookmaker believes a horse has of winning against all other horses in the race. If all horses are no longer running, then the chances of each horse changes. In this instance, a Rule 4 is applied to your bet if it wins, meaning an amount of money (in pence per pound) is deducted from your winnings. The shorter the odds of the horse which was removed from the race, the bigger the Rule 4, as below:
|Odds (or Decimal Equivalent)||Scale of Deduction (per £)|
|1/9 or longer odds on||90 pence|
|2/11 to 2/17||85 pence|
|1/4 to 1/5||80 pence|
|3/10 to 2/7||75 pence|
|2/5 to 1/3||70 pence|
|8/15 to 4/9||65 pence|
|8/13 to 4/7||60 pence|
|4/5 to 4/6||55 pence|
|20/21 to 5/6||50 pence|
|Evens to 6/5||45 pence|
|5/4 to 6/4||40 pence|
|8/5 to 7/4||35 pence|
|9/5 to 9/4||30 pence|
|12/5 to 3/1||25 pence|
|16/5 to 4/1||20 pence|
|9/2 to 11/2||15 pence|
|6/1 to 9/1||10 pence|
|10/1 to 14/1||5 pence|
|Over 14/1||No Deduction|
If you want to learn even more about the terms, expressions and bet types available when it comes to Horse Racing, you can check out our horse racing glossary here.
Bet on horse racing