Betting on Horse racing has the largest turnover of any sport in the UK, making it a big deal when it comes to online bookmakers and gambling in general. Here we will attempt to break down some of the jargon making it easy to understand what happens and how to make sensible horse racing bets which you will enjoy watching run and hopefully get some value from as well.
Understanding Horse racing odds
Horse racing odds are not actually any different to any other type of odds. And odds are just a numerical expression of the ratio between your stake and your winnings. There are several ways to show this relationship, with Fractions, Decimal, and American being the main ones (although there are several others). In the UK at any horse race meeting the odds will be displayed and referred to in Fractions. There are many slang terms used for the odds which you may hear, such as:
These phrases, which we have just given a tiny sample of above, are dying out now as fewer and fewer people bet at the race course and instead place their bets online. The odds always do exactly the same thing though, like all ways of displaying odds it is just the ratio of stake and winnings.
The official odds a horse wins at, known as the "Starting Price" or "SP" for short will always be in fractions. To calculate the possible returns you need to know that betting at 2/1 means that for every £1 bet, if your horse wins, then your total return is £3, made up of getting £2 back as profit and £1 back as your original stake. This ratio is the multiplier you apply to your bet stake. If for example you bet £7.50 on a horse at 2/1 then your total return would be £22.50, with £15 the profit and £7.50 your stake. It is £15 because that is £7.50 x 2.
The most popular types of Horse racing bets
Each Way bets on UK Horse racing
Each Way betting is a type of bet specific to Horse Racing and it is essentially placing two different bets at once. Half of your stake is placed on your horse winning which is very simple, the other half is put on your horse "placing" and this is a bit more complicated. The number of places that result in a winner will vary from race to race, but it will usually be the top two, three or four. If your horse does not win, but does place, then that half of the bet is a winner but you are paid 1/5 of the odds. Although you can bet Each Way on any horse it is most common to do it on outsiders who you think perhaps won't win but will be there or thereabouts.
Exotic Wagers on US Horse racing
Exotic Wagers are a type of Horse racing bet which is basically a glorified accumulator bet, but all on the same race. You are betting on not just which horse will win, but also who will come second (an exacta bet), and in some cases who will come third as well (a trifecta bet). Sometimes your bet can be on the 1-2-3 in any order, sometimes you have to get the exact order correct. As you can imagine the odds on these bets are often very high indeed.
Horse Racing Betting Strategies and Tactics
For strategies and tactics, there are several factors which will influence what are the correct ones to use.
On of the main ones is where the horse race is taking place because UK horse race betting and US racing are very different. For US racing who will win is decided by probably 80% to 90% which horse is quickest and 10% to 20% the skill of the jockey. In the UK racing it is very different and around 30% speed of the horse, 30% skill of the jockey, 30% the ground conditions, and 10% luck (especially if jump racing).
There are a few reasons for this, the main one being that US horse races do not (as a rule) involve any hurdles. The horses are never jumping so there is not as much skill involved with the jockey needing to stay in the saddle and less luck involved because all horses will stay on their feet for the whole race, and with a jockey on board. If there are hurdles to clear the horse in front may come down bringing your horse down too and that can happen to anyone and is just bad luck. Similarly horses regularly unseat their riders and a loose horse can cut across yours and interfere in the race and there is nothing anyone can do about that. The other variable is the track, because US races are normally (not always but normally) on all weather surfaces, so there is much less influence from the rain in the days before the race and the horses form is more consistent and less likely to be affected by such things.
We have listed our top six Horse racing betting tips below.
Horse racing betting tricks for beginners
It is not necessarily a trick as such, but good all round sports betting advice is to always start with very very small stakes and learn what is going on that way.
Do not bet more than you can afford to lose and never ever chase your losses by betting more and more on consecutive races. If you start with £10 and lose it all then stop, come back a different day. It is just as easy to lose £10,000 as it is to lose £10, so be very careful.
Also as a beginner do not overthink it and just try to back winning horses. To start with it is as simple as that.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do not bet, is the safest bet! To be honest there is no such thing as a safe Horse racing bet, although when people think there is they call it a "Banker", meaning you should put your whole bankroll on it, because it is so safe. This is nonsense. All the horses have a chance to win so never put your whole bankroll on anything, and never think any Horse racing bet is safe.
To answer the question though the safest Horse racing bet we have seen, and have made money on quite consistently, is betting on whether or not the Cheltenham festival will go ahead as scheduled. Only once has it been called off for foot and mouth disease in 2001. It seems as if every year there is some scare story the week before the race and you can bet on the event being called off, or going ahead. It is a very safe bet to back it going ahead.
It will depend on how you define profitable, and if you mean in the long run as a type of bet or as a one-off bet. As a type of bet any accumulators tend to be very profitable IF they win, but that is the catch, the chances of them coming in are very low. It is possible that the Scoop 6 could be the most profitable bet, especially if the bonus race has rolled over a few times. It is also incredibly hard to win but sometimes the odds you get in reality for winning can be higher than if that bet was placed as an Acca.
A good bet is any bet that is providing you value. Also with Horse racing, a good bet (if you are watching it) is a bet that gives you a run for your money. That way you are entertained even if it loses. Everyone is different though, so there is no universal "best" type of bet.
Best Odds Guaranteed is a type of promotional bonus offered by a number of bookmakers. It does not, (confusingly!), mean that you are getting the best odds. In fact you are likely not to be getting the best odds if you are betting with Best Odds Guaranteed. What it means is that if you take an Early Price on a Horse (accept certain odds and place a money bet) then if the official odds for the horse go out and the Starting Price (Official odds at the start of the race) is higher than the odds you were given, then you will be paid out at the starting price.
The "Guarantee" is that your odds will always be at least as good as the SP odds. It is not a guarantee that your odds will be the best available.