Updated: October 2019

How to Bet on Horse Racing Specials

14 May 2019

The online sports betting market has seen rapid growth over recent years and that has led to bookmakers coming up with different ways in which they can out-do their competitors.

One way in which they do this is by offering specials markets across several different sports.

So, just betting on which horse will win or place in a horse race is becoming a thing of yesterday as more and more punters take advantage of specials markets to try and make a profit.

Betting on Horse Racing Specials

Horse racing special bets are not a completely new thing but they are becoming more popular and therefore more specials are becoming available. Here are some of the most popular horse racing special bets and our advice on how to make the most of them.

Winning Distance

The winning distance special bet can work one of two ways. You are either betting on a particular horse to win a specific race by more or less than a given distance, or some bookmakers offer punters the chance to bet on the total winning distances across the card at a particular meeting.

For the first of these two different types of distance bets, punters need to first be sure the given horse will actually win the race in the first place. Chances are, the horse given in this special will be a red-hot and extremely short-priced favourite.

By studying form, previous winning distances, the quality of opposition etc. punters will be able to get more of an idea of how easy the race should be to win and by how far.

If a horse has won its last three races by five lengths, nine lengths, and seven lengths (most recent last), it has an average winning distance of seven lengths. If its next race is against similar opposition, on similar ground, in the same class of race, the chances are that it will win by at least five or six lengths. Especially by the fact the horse seems to be improving with every race.

The other type of distance bet requires punters to predict the overall winning distance at a given meeting. Whichever bookmaker you are using may give different sets of distances, each with a price attached. These distances could be, for example:

• Under 10.5 lengths
• 11 – 16 lengths
• Over 16.5 lengths

This means that if you believe the overall winning distances will add up to around 13 lengths, you will bet on the middle set. When placing a bet of this nature you need to pay close attention to the types of races being ran at the meeting, whether there are a lot of short priced favourites and the type of ground.

If there are predominantly sprint races of five or six furlongs, the chances are that the winning distance will be short for each race. But, there may be a mile and half race thrown in with a favourite who is a class above the opposition and should win comfortably.

Take all of these factors into consideration and winning distance bets can be a lot of fun as well as provide you with a chance of making a profit.

Head to Head Matches

This market is where the bookmaker will select two horses in race that they believe are closely matched. They will usually be close together in the betting market and possibly have very similar form. The punter will then bet on which of the two horses will beat the other.

Match betting in horse racing is becoming increasingly popular due to the fact it doesn’t matter where your horse finishes in the race, as long as it beats the other horse selected in the head to head match. The horses could technically finish as the last two, but you will still win your bet if your horse came second to last and the other finished last.

Trainer and Jockey Head to Heads

Similar to the horse match betting, the trainer and jockey head to heads will usually see the bookmaker choose two jockeys or two trainers and the punter bets on which one will have the most winners at a given meeting.

This type of bet is usually only offered at bigger meetings, such as the Cheltenham Festival or Royal Ascot, where trainers will field many horses across a few days and jockeys will have several mounts.

For this type of bet you need to pay attention to how many horses a trainer has running at a meeting, or indeed how many rides a jockey has. You also need to look at the quality of the horses, quality of the opposition, etc.

One trainer may be fielding ten runners in a day, with the other trainer in the head to head only having seven, but the first trainer may have three in a race where the others one is an odds-on favourite.

Betting Without

The betting without special usually eliminates the favourite from the race and is usually used for races where the favourite is pretty much a certainty to win. For example, lets say the betting odds for a race are:

1. 2/9
2. 6/1
3. 13/2
4. 8/1
5. 12/1
6. 25/1

Betting without specials will take away the favourite and adjust the odds accordingly. The punter then bets on the horse they believe will finish second, and therefore win if the favourite wasn’t there.

For this special, punters must have knowledge of how the race is likely to be ran, and the running styles of other horses in the race. The second favourite here may be a front runner who is likely to challenge the favourite every step of the way, but if the favourite is that good and sets a strong gallop it may mean the second favourite getting tired. The 25/1 shot may be a strong finisher who has sat in midfield the entire race just hoping to pick up any scraps left by the other tiring horses and finishes well to nick second on the line.

Having this knowledge and know how before the race gives you the best chance of making a profit.

Money Back Insurance Specials

Money back insurance specials are usually offered on select races, probably the first race at a big meeting, and offers punters their money back as either cash or a free bet should their horse finish second.

Any special which offers you insurance against your horse losing, whilst still paying you out as a winner if your horse does win, is going to be popular. One thing you must know with these type of bets is that the odds on your horse winning may be shorter if you choose to take the insurance bet.

Extra Place Races

Another special growing in popularity is extra place races. These are offered by pretty much every online bookmaker now, especially for big races, and it’s a great way of enticing new customers.

For example, the Grand National at Aintree is a race where the first four are considered to have placed. But, some bookmakers were paying out the same odds for the first six in the race. This gives you two extra places and increases your chances of a payout.

Extra place races are pretty much available on a daily basis now and is a great way of landing a big priced each way bet. It allows for punters to take more of a risk, although we would still recommend remaining analytical and not just backing a big priced horse and hoping for a bit of luck.

Jollies v Rags

This special bet is available at select bookmakers and basically gives you more than one horse in a race. For example, the Jollies could be the first three in the betting and the Rags are the five lowest in the betting in an eight-horse race.

If you back the Jollies and the first, second or third favourite wins, you win your bet. If the top three in the betting get beat, you lose. But, if you back the Rags and any of the five horses at bigger odds wins then your bet is successful.

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