Updated: October 2019

How to Start Betting on Horse Racing

2 April 2019

Horse racing is a sport associated with gambling, with many people only watching or attending horse race meetings if they have had or intending to have a bet.

Big races, such as the Grand National at Aintree, attracts people who wouldn’t usually gamble but who have a small wager in what has become an annual tradition. But, there are others who bet on horse racing daily and some who make big money from it.

Many people are put off of betting on horse racing because they do not completely understand the sport, the betting procedure or the terminology used. Here is our guide on how to start betting on horse racing.

Understanding the Basics

Before placing a bet, you must understand the basics of horse racing.

Basically, horse racing is an equestrian sport where more than two horses will race against each other over a set distance. This could be a flat race, where horses will run a set distance on either a straight or oval course, or a jumps race, where horses will have to jump obstacles such as fences or hurdles during the course of a race.

In the UK and Ireland jump racing is known as National Hunt racing, with different sized obstacles. Hurdles races have smaller obstacles, whereas steeplechase races will have bigger fences and generally have more incidences of horses falling or refusing to jump. Some meetings will have National Hunt flat races, which can be slightly confusing to people new to the sport, where horses will race over a long distance (often called cross country) on a flat track at a jumps meeting.

The Race Card

Every horse race will have a race card, which shows people which horses are running in the race.

The sight of this race card could be confusing to someone who doesn’t understand the sport of horse racing but it’s important to understand it for people who want to place a bet.

At the top of the race card, you have the time of the race, the race track the race is taking place at, the (A.W.) means the horse is being run on an all weather track, and the distance the horses must run during the race. Underneath that is the name of the race, class, and any conditions for entry.

So, this race is being run at Newcastle at 17:45 UK Time on an all weather track, over a course distance of 2 miles and 56 yards. It is a class 2 handicap with only horses over the age of 4 allowed to enter.

Next, we move on the actual horses themselves.

• Number of horse and draw – This is simply which number the horse is, which in a handicap race will mean 1 is carrying top weight and the weight descends with number. The draw is only for flat races and shows which stall the horse will start the race from, which could give an advantage to certain horses at some tracks.
• Silk – This is the colours the jockey will wear for the race.
• Form – You will see numbers such as 0021-23 and this represents the horses recent form, with the number closest to the name of the horse being the position finished in the last race. So, with the numbers above you would be able to see that the horse finished third last time out and second in the race before that. The “-” could indicate a break. You may also see abbreviations such as “PU”, “F”, or “UR” along with the numbers. This will mean the horse either pulled up, fell, or unseated its rider.
• Horse Details – The name of the horse, country it is from, days since last run, breeding, and in this section you will see abbreviations for any useful information about the horse. These include “C”, “D”, “CD”, “BF”. These mean the horse has won at this course, has won over this distance at a different course, has won at the same course and distance, or was a beaten favourite in its last race.
• Age/Weight – The age of the horse and the weight (in stones and pounds) the horse must carry for this race, which is determined by the conditions of the race, any penalty the horse must carry, or to attempt to level the playing field in a handicap race.
• Trainer/Jockey – This is the name of the person who trains the horse and which jockey will ride for this race. Some jockeys will have a number in brackets next to their name. This will mean they are an inexperienced or apprentice rider who are given a weight allowance which reduces the weight the horse will carry. This will either be 7lb, 5lb, or 3lb.
• Official Rating – This is the rating given to the horse by the British Horseracing Authority and determines the quality of the horse. The higher rated the horse, the better. The ratings are updated weekly and will also give the handicapper in handicap races a guide on how much weight the horse should carry for the race. As you can see from the above race card, a horse rated 102 carries a weight 7lb higher than a horse rated 95.

Usually, underneath the list of horses taking part, there will be a betting forecast. This is a list of odds and shows an example of what the market is expected to look like when the horses start the race.

You may also see a comment at the end or under each horse, which gives a brief run down of their recent form, and also a verdict or prediction to give an experts opinion on how they think the race will finish.

Bet Types

When placing a bet, you must know which bet you want to place and the options open to you. In horse racing you can place either a straight bet, multiple bet, or combination bet.

Straight bets are usually a bet on a single horse in a single race and is either a win or each way bet.

• Win – The horse bet on must win the race for the bet to be successful.
• Each Way – This type of bet allows punters the opportunity to still make a profit if there horse can place behind the winner. The position required to finish in order to place will vary depending on the type of race, number of horses in the race etc, and the odds will usually be either a quarter or a fifth of the horses starting price. People wishing to bet each way will also have to double the stake they would for a win bet, as you are essentially making two bets on the same horse. One to win and one to place.

Multiple bets allow a person to select more than one horse for different races and combine them in a multiple bet, meaning they may still make a profit even if not all of their selections win. The type of multiple bet ranges from a double or a treble, where two or three horses are selected and a win or each way accumulator type bet is placed.

For this to be successful, each horse must win or place depending on the type of the bet. So, if you bet on a win double, horse A and horse B would both need to win for your bet to be successful.

A combination bet is where a person selects several horses, with a minimum of three, and places a combination bet. The bet then covers singles, doubles, trebles, four-folds, five-folds, accumulators etc depending on how many horses are selected and the type of bet placed.

An example of this is a “Lucky 15” bet. For this, four selections are made and the bet consists of fifteen different bets within the one combination bet. This is four singles, six doubles, four trebles and a four-fold. Obviously, as there are fifteen bets, it will cost you fifteen times your stake money for a win bet or thirty times your stake money for an each way bet.

A £1 each way lucky 15 would cost the punter £30, but gives them the chance to win a lot of money.

For example, if you placed this bet on horses priced at 7/4, 2/1, 9/2 and 6/1 and they all won, with the each way odds being a fifth of the SP, the payout would be £830.34. If all the horses failed to win but managed to place, it would still be a profit with a payout of £51.34.

Other Bets

There are a few other bets to know about, which are listed below.

• Placepot – This is a bet where you select a horse in each of the first six races at a certain meeting. If your selected horse places in every race, you would win a share of the place pool. One horse fails to place and the bet is over.

• Jackpot – Similar to the placepot, where a single horse is selected in each of the first six races at a meeting, but the selection must win the race in a jackpot bet.
• Forecast – The forecast bet is where you select two horse to finish first and second in a certain race. This can be either a straight forecast, where you must select the correct order of winner and second, or a reverse forecast where you can just select two horses and win the bet if they are the first two finishers in the race.
• Tricast – Again, a similar bet to the one before but this time you must select the first three in a certain race.

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