Betting Types for Horse Racing

Betting Types in Horse RacingBetting on horse racing has remained as popular as ever in spite of the boom in other forms of sports betting. The arrival of high-speed Internet has revolutionised the way punters can place their bets with more choices than ever before. The traditional high street bookmaker still has a role to play but the advances in technology have made it easier than ever before for the stay-at-home punter.

The most basic horse racing bet is a straight Win Bet on the horse of their choice. This is still the most popular horse racing wager with the simple mathematics of multiplying the odds with your stake to calculate your returns. This bet is recommended as the best strategy by many professional punters, believing that to be profitable you must be confident that your selection will win. For that reason, they are rarely attracted by Each-way betting. More about placing a straight win bet.


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An each-way bet is placing half of your total stake on the horse to win and half on the horse to finish in the places (usually the first three unless in handicap races where it is the first four, provided there are 16 runners or more). The place part of the bet is calculated at a fraction of the win odds. You can only bet to win in races of less than five runners with the place paying ¼ of the odds for 1st and 2nd in races of five to seven runners. In races of 8 or more runners the place returns are ¼ odds for the first three. Each-way betting is only really viable when backing horses of 4-1 or longer as the place winnings will cover your win stake should the horse finish second or third. There are some punters who like to confine their each-way bets to races with 8 to 10 runners, reasoning that they have a good mathematical chance of making the frame regularly.

Place only betting is another option for backers when backing longer priced horses. For example, they may feel that they have little or no chance of upsetting the favourite but could be good value to finish second or third. There is plenty of logic in this argument but this strategy is not for everyone. After all, it would be frustrating to support a 50-1 winner and only be paid out at a fraction of those odds for a place. You should note that the Place bet in the American betting system has a different meaning and is for the horse to finish 1st or 2nd with “Show” referring to 1st, 2nd or 3rd.

Whether you are betting to win or each-way, it is very important to look for the best odds on offer before placing your bet. Several of the best online racebooks now offer a “Best odds guarantee” which means that, if you take an early price and the SP return is higher, you will be paid out at the higher price. The bookmakers will also make generous concessions with each-way the first five in some of the most competitive handicaps such as the Grand National race or the Lincoln.

Other Horse Racing Bets

The more ambitious punter might fancy a dabble at a Forecast or Tricast bet. A Forecast bet requires that you correctly select the first and second in the correct order whilst a tricast means picking the first, second and third accurately. For many of the big races this requires little short of a crystal ball but the returns can be enormous. If you are slightly less confident of the outcome but believe that you have the right horses, a better option might be the Reverse Forecast or Reverse Tricast bet. Your selections do not have to be in the correct order so long as they finish in the required placings. The stake for these bets are higher to cover all of the permutations. The American terminology for these bets are Exacta and Trifecta.

If you intend to put your selections from various races into doubles and trebles, there are a vast range of different bets on offer. A standard Double, Treble or Accumulator is a single stake that requires all of your horses to win. The odds are then multiplied through the bet resulting in the potential for huge returns. The odds are stacked against the punters in these wagers so they are heavily promoted by bookmakers, explaining why they are happy to publicise the occasional big win!

There are also a multitude of bets involving all possible combinations for a set number of selections. These include a Trixie (3 horses), Yankee (4 horses), Canadian (5 horses) or Heinz (6 horses). In these bets, you back every conceivable single, double and upwards to a set stake. The Trixie requires just four bets so a £1 Trixie would mean an outlay of only £4. However, by the time you reach a Heinz bet the number is 57 times your stake. Most bookmakers do allow these types of bets to small stakes and they are still popular with punters seeking that illusive big win. The benefit of these bets over the accumulator is that you are guaranteed a return with just two winners and can have a very nice return for three or more winners. Bookmakers will sometimes offer enhanced returns on certain types of horse racing multiples, so check before you place your bets.

A popular Saturday wager is the Scoop 6, a six-horse accumulator on a fixed group of races including the pick of those televised by Channel 4. Each £2 that you stake entitles you to one line of six horses. If you choose to have more than one in any race the stake multiples accordingly. The extra incentive on this bet is that the prize is carried over if it is not won so the prize pool could eventually be far greater than a standard accumulator. This bet has been successfully farmed by syndicates in recent years as they spread their risk across many of the fancied runners. Obviously, if all six races are won by favourites or second-favourites there are likely to be multiple winning tickets so the payout is greatly reduced. Those fortunate enough to win the Scoop 6 will get a chance at the Bonus Fund the following Saturday where they are given a single race. Where there are more than one winning ticket, there is nothing in the rules to stop them agreeing to pick different horses and split the Bonus Fund between them.

A more recent development in horse racing betting is the Lay bet, where you can act as a bookmaker on the betting exchanges and take bets on a horse. You may be convinced that a particular horse cannot win and be happy to offer a price. This does involve risking losing more than just your original stake so you do need to be fully aware of your possible liabilities should you be proved wrong. If you are new to the betting exchanges, you should certainly familiarise yourself with how the system works before jumping in with both feet. There are plenty of useful sites and books available that will help to explain this rapidly expanding aspect of horse racing betting.

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