Betting on the horses can be a fun and exciting past-time, provided you only bet what you can afford to lose. There are three main ways to bet on the horses – at the track, in a betting shop or online, and each is slightly different.
With any bet, however, it often pays to shop around to get the best odds for your selection by comparing different bookies, shops or websites before making your final decision.
One advantage to online betting is that the minimum stakes are often a lot lower than at the racecourse or in the betting shop. Be sure to read the terms and conditions before you sign up.
You need to know what the minimum deposit and withdrawal amounts are, if there are any maximum payouts, whether they accept your preferred credit or debit card, and any other rules that might affect your decision.
As an added incentive, many online bookmakers offer deposit match schemes for your first deposit, such as make a £10 bet and get another £10 bet for free.
Whether you prefer to size up the different bookies by the trackside or decide between the horses online, placing a bet on a horse race is easy. Whatever form your receipt takes (an email or a betting slip), keep a tight hold on it – you might need it if your horse performs well!
Placing a bet in a betting shop
To place a bet in a betting shop you need to collect a slip. These are usually stored on counters or in wall brackets.
Fill in the slip with the name of the racecourse or meeting, the time of the race you wish to bet on, the name of your selected horse, the amount you wish to stake and the type of bet that you are placing.
You then hand this to the cashier and receive a receipt, often a photocopy of your slip. You will need this in order to collect your winnings if your horse comes in, so hold onto it carefully.
Placing a bet at the racecourse
There are usually lots of bookies at the racecourse and they will all be set up in a row close by one another. This makes it easy to wander up and down to find the best odds for your bet.
Once you have made your selection and found the best odds, simply approach the bookmaker and state clearly the number of the horse, the type of bet you wish to make and the amount of your stake. Remember that each-way bets are double, so if you ask for a £2 each-way bet it will cost you £4.
Bookies at the racecourse only take bets for the next upcoming race so you will have to go back each time, but you won’t need to state which race you want to bet on. Be sure to hang onto your ticket as that’s the only way you can claim your winnings.
Other than at the Tote, you will usually only be able to place win and each-way bets with most bookies. There will be a minimum bet, which is usually £2 but some bookies will take £1 bets – if so, they will advertise this.
Horse racing odds explained
Horse racing takes place up and down the country every day of the year apart from Christmas Day.
Racing can generally be split into two seasons – the jumps and the flat. All-weather racing, on the other hand, goes on all year round.
To work out which bet you want to make, you’re likely to want to look at four main factors.
- The form of the horse
- The type of ground
- The distance
- The Class of the race
These four elements will make a difference to the price of a horse before the start of a race.
Horses can be stepped up or down in distance which then alters the stamina they require in order to win a contest.
Likewise, a sharp change in the weather conditions can dramatically alter the odds of a horse. A horse that prefers running on Good to Firm is going to be longer odds if the ground has been confirmed as Heavy.
Finally, the Class indicates the level a horse is running at. If a horse that has won in Group or Graded company (the highest level) steps down in class, their odds will likely shorten.
Weights, especially in handicap races, should also be considered.
Types of horse racing betting
The most straightforward of these is picking an outright winner. If you place £10 on a horse at 4/1 and it crosses the line first, you win £50 (£40 winnings, plus your stake).
Each-way betting is another popular way of staking on races. It involves placing two wagers on the same horse in a single bet. A £5 each-way bet consists of £5 on a horse to win and £5 on a horse to place, creating a total stake of £10.
This way, even if your horse fails to win, you could still get a return on your bet if it finishes in the runner-up positions.
If your selection comes home in the place positions you will be paid out at 1/4 or 1/5 of your horse’s original odds. This is often dependent on how many horses run in the race. Bigger renewals like the Grand National offer more places and more chances to win for speculative punters.
Forecast betting involves picking the 1st and 2nd horse home. This can be straight, reverse or in any order.
You can also pick horses to go into a traditional win accumulator, although with horse racing there are also variations available.
A Trixie consists of three doubles and a treble, while a Yankee has four selections with 11 separate bets; six doubles, four trebles and a straight four-fold.
Canadian, Heinz, Lucky 15, Lucky 31 and Lucky 63 are other variants that comprise a multitude of different bets within them.