Updated: October 2019

How to Bet on Flat Racing

14 May 2019

From late March / early April every year focus turns from jumps racing to the flat, with horse racing punters everywhere looking to make a profit.

However, the flat racing season is filled with a lot of races at a lot of different courses, all with varying conditions and draw advantages. So making a steady and constant profit throughout the season is difficult, unless you take heed of a few tips to improve your chances.

The UK Flat Racing Season

As mentioned above, the flat racing season in the United Kingdom starts in either late March or early April with the Lincoln handicap at Doncaster. It runs until the November handicap, again at Doncaster, although there is a winter flat season which is run on all-weather courses.

During the season, the five classic races are run as well as other top races such as the Ebor or the Chester Cup at some of the top courses across Britain. The five classic races are:

• 1,000 Guineas
• 2,000 Guineas
• Epsom Derby
• Epsom Oaks
• St Leger

As well as the big meetings, the flat season is filled with low grade races every single day of the week and there are also several evening meetings held which take advantage of the longer days and warm evenings throughout summer.

Betting on Flat Racing

In order to make the most out of betting on flat racing, you need to approach it in an analytical and business-like manner.


Our first tip is to specialise, whether it’s at a select number of courses or a particular race type. You aren’t going to maintain a healthy cash flow if you are betting on every race regardless of the type of race or the course it is being ran at.

By narrowing down your options for betting, you give yourself more of a chance of making a steady profit and also allow yourself a better chance of gaining more knowledge in your chosen specialist subject.

Specialising at certain courses means you will have the knowledge of which types of horses win which type of race, draw advantages, how the weather affects the ground and outcome of races etc. This allows you to put your knowledge into practice and have the upper hand when it comes to betting at that particular course.

The only problem with that is there may be a fair wait in between meetings at the two or three courses you specialise in.

So, perhaps choosing a certain type of race or age range of horse is a better way to approach this. Maybe concentrating on two-year-olds is the way forward, keeping notes of every two-year-old race, results, eye catchers, horses who looked green but had obvious potential, etc.

This can hopefully allow you to make a nice profit as the season goes on.

Just remember to stay disciplined and concentrate on your specialist race type or courses. Nobody says you can’t bet on other races or at different meetings, but try to keep that to a minimum to save your bankroll for what you’re most knowledgable about.

Keep a Diary of Your Chosen Specialist Subject

Once you’ve chosen your specialist race type or courses, it’s imperative that you watch every single race from start to finish to increase your expertise on the subject.

When reading form guides, you will usually be told how the horse finished. The form guide may say something like “narrow lead 2 out, weakened in final furlong” for a horse that went on to finish third in a one mile two furlong race. This information may be useful and may have people thinking they will back that horse if it’s running over seven furlongs or a mile next time out.

But, it only tells part of the story. Only by watching the race throughout will you know exactly what happened. Maybe the horse got off to a poor start and used up too much energy getting to the front of the race, as it’s a front runner who likes to lead. Maybe it got dragged along at a pace it wasn’t comfortable with.

All of these things, including the start, horses who were disadvantaged by a poor draw, horses who got boxed in and had to use up too much energy finding a way to get through the crowd, or horses who were outpaced early on, are vital pieces of information that will help you make more of an informed betting decision in the future.

Make a Note of Draw Advantages

This doesn’t particularly have to be restricted to your chosen specialist race type or course, but it would be a good idea to stick to a few courses to begin with.

Make a note of any advantage gained by the draw, any particular part of the course that benefits front running horses, how the weather conditions have an affect on the draw, etc.

In the newspaper or on the online racecard, it may say “draw advantage – low”, but how much of an advantage does it have?. Obviously, at somewhere like Chester, which requires a low draw to stand any chance, this information is useful and well known. But, sometimes it takes your own record keeping to be able to recognise draw advantages and use this knowledge to make a profit.

Do Not Get Swayed by Hype

This is best taken notice of for two-year-old horses running their first race, or indeed a short priced favourite with no actual form to back up the price.

You may hear the commentary team or read the newspaper tipster saying how a particular horse is the best two-year-old from a certain yard and it has already been entered into some top races on potential alone. But, that means nothing when that juvenile horse goes on to a course for the first time. It may be extremely green, over-eager, or just not take to the ground conditions.
Our advice would be to avoid the hype, watch the race and see how the horse runs. It may well romp home at the first time of asking and be far too short a price to bet on in its second race. But, it may well show greenness, finish third or fourth and give you great potential for a profit next time out.

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