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All you need to know about horse race betting

27th August 2020 Print

Whether it’s your first time at the races or you’re a little rusty, some betting know-how is going to make things much more fun and could well leave you a winner. You should always be looking at these racing tips. To help, we’ve put all the essentials together in our easy read guide: All You Need to Know About Horse Race Betting. 

Know the type of race

There are two main types of race in the UK – the Flat and the National Hunt. 

- A Flat race is a summer event and typically runs between half a mile (five furlongs) and just over two miles and is a test of speed and stamina.

- A National Hunt race is also known as jump racing or steeplechases and is set over a hurdle or larger fenced course of between two and 4½ miles. Endurance, skill and speed is the order of the day for the National Hunt.

Understand the ground

The ground on the day of the race is also an important factor as the weather can affect its condition in different ways. A dry surface (referred to as firm or good to firm) suits finer horses as it’s a fast course while a soft or wetter course works well for horses who hit the ground hard. 

The lowdown on betting odds

Looking at the odds of a horse is essential in working out the potential return on any bet you plan to place. The lower the odds, 2-1 for example, the better the chance the horse has at winning, but your pay-out will be lower. With longer odds, a horse is considered to have less chance at winning but if he does, you will get a higher return on your stake. 

Checking out the form

So, if you know the odds, you need to check the form of the horse or horses you have your eye on. The form is simply a summary of a horse’s recent track record, including wins and placings, as well as any slip ups such as refusals, falls or failures to finish. With the odds, and the form as well as knowledge of the track and the ground, you can now make an informed decision as to where you want to place your bet. 

Types of horse racing bets

There’s a wide range of bets you can choose, meaning horse race betting can be tailored to your experience, preferences and budget. The most popular types of bets, and a good place to get started are:

- Bet to win – a wager placed on the horse you think will come first

- Bet to place – you can hedge your bet by wagering on a horse you think will come placed, i.e., first, second or third

- Bet each way – here you split your bet, betting on the horse to win and also place. However, if the horse places but doesn’t win, the win portion is lost, and you get a return that’s a fraction of the win odds.

- Multiple bet (accumulator) – also known as a combination bet, you select a horse in one of multiple races run consecutively, with any winnings from the first race used as the stake for the following race and so on, until the race combination is completed. 

Bet within your means

And finally, with the excitement of the racetrack, one essential to betting is to always know your limit and don’t bet beyond your means. Always have a clear maximum budget that you can afford to lose and if or when you reach it, call it a day. Never chase your losses either and always remember, there’ll be other horse races for you to enjoy another day.