Horse Racing Betting - The Ultimate Beginner's Guide (2018 Update)
In this guide we explain all you need to know about horse racing betting including a brief history of the sport, the different types of races, common terms and phrases, the various types of bets available and more.
Horse Racing Betting Guide – How To Bet On Horses
Horse racing is one of the most popular sports to bet on. In fact, it is the second largest spectator sports in the UK. Furthermore, the Grand National and Cheltenham Gold Cup are two of the most watched and attended sporting events in the calendar year.
In one form or another, horse racing has existed for as long as humans and horses have been on contact. Horse racing as we know it today, is believed to have began in the 17th century during the reign of King James I.
Through the centuries, horse racing became more and more popular, and thanks to TV and the internet, it is now one of the most watched and bet on sports in the UK.
Types Of Horse Races
There are two main types of horse racing in the UK.
- Flat Racing – Flat races traditionally take place during the summer and are run over distances between 5 furlongs and 2 miles 5 furlongs 159 yards on courses without obstacles. They are a test of speed, stamina and skill.
- National Hunt Racing – National Hunt (also know as Jump) races traditionally take place during the Autumn, Winter and Spring and are run over distances between 2 miles and 4 1/2 miles with obstacles from hurdles to fences.
Classifications Of Races
In both Flat and National Hunt racing, there are a series of classifications that are designed to help indicate the prestige, prize money and quality of the race. Both are split into classes from 1-7.
Class 1 Flat races are divided into the following:
- Group 1 – Races of major international importance.
- Group 2 – Major international races but of slightly less importance than Group 1 races.
- Group 3 – Important domestic races.
- Listed Races – Just below group races.
Class 1 National Hunt races are divided into the following:
- Grade 1 – The best championship races where the weight a horse carries is determined by age and sex.
Grade 2 – The weight a horse carries is determined by age and sex but they are also made to carry more for any races they may have previously run.
- Grade 3 – The weight a horse carries is determined by the horse’s handicap rating.
- Listed Races – Just below graded races.
After Class 1 races, we then have Class 2 through to 7 which apply to both Flat and National Hunt Racing and are based on a horses handicap rating as follows:
- Class 2 – Heritage Handicaps, Handicap rating of 86-100, 91-105 and 96-110.
- Class 3 – Handicap rating of 76-90 and 81-95.
- Class 4 – Handicap rating of 66-80 and 71-85.
- Class 5 – Handicap rating of 56-70 and 61-75.
- Class 6 – Handicap rating of 46-60 and 51-65.
- Class 7 – Handicap rating of 46-50.
There are 60 licensed racecourses in Great Britain and a further two in Northern Ireland. These include: Aintree, Ascot, Ayr, Bangor, Bath, Beverley, Brighton, Carlisle, Cartmel, Catterick, Chelmsford City, Cheltenham, Chepstow, Cheste, Doncaster, Down Royal, Downpatrick, Epsom Downs, Exeter, Fakenham, Ffos Las, Folkestone (Temporarily Closed) Fontwell Park, Goodwood, Great Yarmouth, Hamilton Park, Haydock Park, Hereford, Hexham, Huntingdon, Kelso, Kempton Park, Leicester, Lingfield Park, Ludlow, Market Rasen, Musselburgh, Newbury, Newcastle, Newmarket, Newton Abbot, Nottingham, Perth, Plumpton, Pontefract, Redcar, Ripon, Salisbury, Sandown Park, Sedgefield, Southwell, Stratford Upon Avon, Taunton, Thirsk, Towcester, Uttoxeter, Warwick, Wetherby, Wincanton, Windsor, Wolverhampton, Worcester, York.
Horse Racing Betting Terms
Below we explain some of the most common phrases used in relation to betting on horses.
What Does Starting Price (SP) Mean?
Starting Price (SP as an abbreviation) refers to the odds of the horse at the start of the race. When you place a bet you’ll usually be given the choice of the current odds on the selection and the Starting Price. However, most online bookmakers offer best odds guaranteed which means you will be paid out at the bigger price.
What Does Non-Runner (NR) Mean?
Horse Racing Bet Types
There are a range of bets you can place when it comes to horse racing. Below we’ll explain each in detail.
This is the most simple and common bet. When placing a ‘To Win’ bet, you are backing a horse to win the race (makes sense) and will only get paid if it finishes first.
This bet is most common when betting on horses with bigger odds. When placing an ‘Each-Way’ bet, you are effectively placing two separate bets. The first bet will be on your horse ‘To Win’ the race and the second bet will be on your horse to ‘Place’.
The amount of places that each bookie pays out on can vary but generally most bookies pay out on the top 3 places at a quarter (1/4) of the odds.
For full details on this bet type you can read our ultimate guide to each way betting.
A Double bet consists of 2 selections taking part in different events. Both must win for you to see a return.
When placing a ‘Tricast’ bet, you are required to predict the top three horses in the exact order they finish. As you can imagine, this can be extremely difficult, but the rewards can be huge.
A Trixie bet consists of 4 bets: 3 doubles and 1 treble. When placing a ‘Trixie’ bet, you need at least 2 of the 3 horses you have chosen to be successful. The advantage of a Trixie bet is that should 1 selection fail, you will still get a return.
A Patent bet bet includes 3 selections consisting of 7 bets: 3 singles, 3 doubles and a treble. The main advantage of a Patent bet is that you only need 1 successful horse to generate a return.
A Yankee bet includes 4 selections consisting of 11 bets: 6 doubles, 4 trebles and a 4-fold accumulator. With a Yankee, you need at least 2 selections to be successful to generate a return.
A Lucky 15 bet includes 4 selections consisting of 15 bets: 4 singles, 6 doubles, 4 trebles and a 4-fold accumulator. With a Lucky 15, you only need one selection to be successful to generate a return.
A Super Yankee bet includes 5 selections consisting of 26 bets: 10 doubles, 10 trebles, 5 four-fold’s and a 5-fold accumulator. With a Super Yankee, you need at least 2 selections to be successful to generate a return.
A Lucky 31 bet includes 5 selections consisting of 31 bets: 5 singles, 10 doubles, 10 trebles, 5 4-folds and a 5-fold accumulator. With a Lucky 31, you only need at 1 selection to be successful to generate a return.
A Canadian bet includes 5 selections consisting of 26 bets: 10 doubles, 10 trebles, 5 4-folds and a 5-fold accumulator. You need 2 selections to be successful to generate a return.
A Heinz bet includes 6 selections consisting of 57 bets: 15 doubles, 20 trebles, 15 4-folds, 6 5-folds and a 1 6-fold accumulator. With a Heinz, you need at least 2 selections to be successful to generate a return.
A Lucky 63 bet includes 6 selections consisting of 63 bets: 6 singles, 15 doubles, 20 trebles, 15 4-folds, 6 5-folds and a 6-fold accumulator. With a Lucky63, you need at least 2 selections to be successful to generate a return.
A Super Heinz bet includes 7 selections consisting of 120 bets: 21 doubles, 35 trebles, 35 4-folds, 21 5-folds, 7 6-folds and a 7-fold accumulator. With a Super Heinz, you need at least 2 selections to be successful to generate a return.
A Goliath bet includes 8 selections consisting of 247 bets: 28 doubles, 56 trebles, 70 4-folds, 56 5-folds, 28 6-folds, 8 7-folds and an 8-fold accumulator. With a Goliath, you need at least 2 selections to be successful to generate a return.
There are many bet types and terminologies when it comes to horse racing and it is important that you familiarise yourself with them before betting.
What next? Once you’re confident on how to bet on horse racing, the next natural step is to learn how to read a form card.