Watching a horse race can be a thrilling experience. There is nothing quite like the sight of people screaming and the horses kicking up dust — it truly is an exhilarating event.
Even if you have never visited a racetrack like the famous Epsom Derby, surely you know that horse racing and betting go hand-in-hand. Even if you don’t see the fun in losing everything but your shorts in a dimly lit casino, horse race betting may be something you can get behind.
In this horse race betting guide we will help you understand the types of wagers you can make, how to pick a winning horse, how to calculate your odds, and how to place bets.
Types of Horse Racing Bets
When you are betting on horses, there are two categories of bets to consider: straight wagers and exotic wagers.
People who are new to horse betting should stick with straight wagers, as they are cheap and simple. Straight bets are placed on a single horse and the minimum bet is usually just £2.
- Win: Here, you bet the horse you believe will finish in first place. If the horse wins, you win.
- Place: In a place bet, you bet that your horse will finish in first or second place. If your horse is the winner or runner-up, you win. The payout is smaller than you’d get with a win bet, but you have more chances of winning.
- Show: You place a single bet that the horse you choose will finish the race in first, second, or third place. Since you are hedging your bet, the chances of a payout are high. However, your winnings will be less than if you had won a win or place bet.
- Across the Board: According to the horse racing guide, when you make an across the board bet, you make multiple bets — win, place, and show bets — all on a single horse. This means that if your horse takes first place, you will get the payout for win, place, and show. If your horse comes in second, you get the money for place and show. And if your horse comes in third, you just get the show money. Since you are placing three different bets, it will cost you £6 if you are making minimum £2 bets.
If you are a new punter, it’s probably best to start with these straight bets. This simple explanation is all you need to know – a beginner’s guide to horse racing betting.
Exotic bets allow you to place a single bet on multiple horses. Since you are betting on multiple outcomes, the probability of winning is lower than if you were making a straight wager. You should have some skill in handicapping horses before making these bets, and you should understand that they can get pretty expensive if you are not careful. Here is a brief guide to betting on horse racing with exotic wagers.
Exacta: This wager involves betting on one horse to finish in first place and a second horse to finish in second place. An exacta bet can be very lucrative because the chances of winning are lower than straight wagers – resulting in high payouts. You can also “box” your exacta, which means the two horses you pick finish first and second in any order. The box exacta is twice as expensive as a straight exacta bet.
Quinella: With a quinella bet, you are betting on two horses to place first or second in any order. This means that as long as the horses you choose finish in the first two places, you win. It is the same as the box exacta bet, but with one key difference: With a quinella, you can make the £2 minimum bet. Of course, you can also look forward to a smaller payout if your horses finish the way you predict.
Trifecta: A trifecta bet allows you to make a wager that three horses you choose will end up in first, second, and third place – in the exact order you specify. This raises the complexity of your racing bet along with the stakes. As with an exacta bet, you can box your trifecta, meaning you win if your three horses finish in the top three spots in any order. A boxed trifecta is quite expensive and the payout is very high.
Superfecta: A superfecta bet is even more complicated. With a superfecta, you bet on four horses to finish in first, second, third, and fourth place in the exact order you specify. You can box a superfecta with a bit more money.
Wheel bet: With a wheel bet, you select a single horse to win and a collection of horses to finish second, third, and/or fourth place, depending on your wheel bet. This bet accommodates some measure of uncertainty. It’s for punters who are pretty sure which horse will finish in first place but not which will take the other positions. This racing bet is more expensive since there are more ways to win.
Daily double bet: With a daily double bet, you pick the winners of two consecutive races. Daily doubles are usually offered on the first or last two races of the day.
Pick 3 bet: A pick 3 bet is similar to daily double, except you must pick the winners of three consecutive races. The betting amount is low and the winnings are high, since winning this bet is difficult.
The Best Way to Bet on Horse Racing
Now that you understand how to bet on horses, you can go to any horse track and bet on a random horse. However, if you would like to win some money, there’s a bit more to it than simply handing £2 to the tellers. Ideally you’ll end the day just a bit richer in addition to watching this exciting sport.
To win, you have to identify and place your smartest bet in horse racing for each particular race. There is so much information on handicapping or selecting a winning horse that it becomes overwhelming for beginners. Although luck has some part to play in these races, analyzing each factor of the horse and its rider can help you calculate your odds and give you a sense of control over your bets.
Let’s consider how to pick a winning horse in a very basic way – a short course in betting on horse racing for dummies.
Reading a Race Day Program
The first thing you need to do when you arrive at a horse racetrack is to read the race program. This document contains all the information pertaining to the day, and you can use it to formulate your horse betting strategy.
Although the sheer volume of numbers and the horse racing terminology may seem intimidating at first, with a little bit of practice, you will be able to understand it.
Class Level of a Horse
There are different classes of competition in horse racing. The higher you go, the better-performing the horses and the higher the bets. There are four major classes:
- Maiden races are for horses that have not yet won a race.
- Claiming races are events in which horses are up for sale for more or less the same price shortly before the race starts.
- Allowances races involve horses that have won races but are not yet ready to go to stakes races.
- Stakes races are where the top horses compete. These races see the biggest racing bets and carry the most prestige.
Racetracks tend to have races with horses who are in the same level of competition. Over the course of a year, horses can move up and down classes depending on their performance. If your horse has suddenly been moved from stakes races to allowance races, it can be an indication that it may not be able to win a race, and you can adjust your horse racing betting accordingly.
Horses perform differently on different racetracks. Some horse tracks are made of dirt and natural grass, while others are made of artificial all-weather materials. A horse may love the natural track but may not be as partial to the artificial track. The opposite can also be true.
Your horse racing program can tell you how the horse has performed on different tracks in the past. If the history shows that a certain horse performs well only on natural tracks and hasn’t won on an all-weather course, it can help you make your horse racing predictions.
Of course, a lot depends on how fast a horse can run. Determining how quickly a horse goes from one point to another can give you an insight on the horse’s ability. There are several ways you can interpret the impact of speed and its effect on the horse race, and they are all important in a guide to horse racing betting.
One good angle is to find yourself a race in which one horse has a solid early speed. This means that it will likely get a long lead early in the first call of the race, giving it a bigger probability of winning.
Another factor that can determine how to bet horses successfully is to observe the horse before the race while it is being paraded in the paddock. This gives you a great opportunity to see the health and mood of the horse before the race starts.
Once you have picked out two or three horses you want to try placing your bets on, you can go over and see how the horses are behaving. If they seem energetic and lively but not too hyperactive, chances are they will have a good day. If they are droopy-eyed and slow to respond, it may not be a great idea to place your racing bets on them. Same with horses who are rearing up, spinning in circles, or snapping at other horses, as they may not be able to save their energy for the race.
You will usually find the best jockeys atop the best horses, so you don’t need to be an expert in riding style to find out who the best riders are. Although many jockeys are associated with retainers, they are also free to move around, and you may see some who switch their horses for big races. This can be a sign that the jockey believes the new horse has a better chance of winning in the race, so you can make your racing prediction based on this.
It makes sense to check the stats of the jockey who will ride a horse you are considering for a bet. Like horses, jockeys tend to perform better on certain tracks, over certain distances, and even over certain classes. The best jockeys in the world may not get the best results in low-level races, but they will truly shine in high-class stakes races.
History With Jockey
If a jockey comes in first, second, or third position with any type of horse, it is a good indicator of superior abilities. So if an excellent jockey is riding a very average horse, you may want to place a bet on the horse since with the jockey, the horse has a good chance of finishing in a top position. This is one of the best horse betting tips you can get.
Also, if a horse and a jockey have a history together and they have consistently finished in the top three spots, then it is also a good indicator that they will finish in one of the top three spots once again.
In your racing program, you will see that every horse has its own odds of winning – it’s listed right next to its name. These odds are known as the morning line. The horse with the lowest odds is the one who will be the people’s choice. However, the morning line is just a rough guide. Your horse may perform very differently from what these odds might lead you to expect.
Although stellar past performances don’t guarantee that the horse will perform just as well this time (horses have their bad days too), stats show that they have the highest probability of winning the race.
According to horse betting stats:
- The favourite horse wins more than 32% of all horse races.
- The favourite horse places first or second in 53% of all races.
- The favourite will finish first, second, or third in 67% of races.
- About 85% of all winners will come from the top four ranked horses.
- About 90% of all races will be won by jockeys who are ranked in the top 10.
If you are thinking of making a wager, these horse racing betting tips can help you put things in perspective. If you want an easy way to make money, you can bet on the race favourite. However, you need to keep in mind that the payoff will be low. Additionally, if you bet to win, remember that favourites finish first only about one-third of the time.
Bet Blokes Guides
How to Read Odds
Before you place your bets on a horse, you will need to understand the odds.
Reading the odds is simple at horse races. They represent the price and payouts of the bets you can place on a horse. Hyphenated numbers like 1-9 or 4-7 tell you how much you will have to pay and how much you will get back if your horse wins.
Odds can be displayed in either fractional or decimal formats:
Fractional Odds: These are more commonly used and are displayed as fraction numbers like 3/7. When spoken, you will say it like “seven to three” which means for every £7 you bet, you will win £3 plus the amount of your original bet.
To calculate your actual payout for a 3/7 odds bet, divide three by seven and then add 1. Multiply this number by £7 to yield £10 as the actual payout.
Decimal Odds: These have been introduced recently. The odds are displayed in decimal format like 5.2. To calculate the return, multiply this number by the amount you are waging. This will give you your payout.