Horse Racing Betting - The Ultimate Beginner's Guide
In this guide we explain all you need to know about horse racing betting including the various types of bets available, as well as how to read a horse racing form card (or racecard).
Horse Racing Betting
Horse Racing is one of the most popular sports to bet on. In fact, the Grand National and Cheltenham Gold Cup are two of most watched and attended sporting events in the calendar year in the UK.
For some, betting on horses can be both confusing and overwhelming to begin with but hopefully by reading this guide you’ll have a better understanding of how everything works.
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 although you can find basic definitions in our betting glossary which includes a full list of betting terminologies.
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.
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 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 is a bet that 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 is a bet that 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 is a bet that 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 is a bet that 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 is a bet that includes 5 selections consisting of 31 bets: 5 singles, 10 doubles, 10 trebles, 5 4-folds and a 5-fold accumulator. Witha Lucky 31, you only need at 1 selection to be successful to generate a return.
A Heinz is a bet that 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 is a bet that 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 is a bet that 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 is a bet that 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.
How To Read A Horse Racing Form Card
A horse racing form card (or racecard) has a deliberate hierarchy and gives you information about each race. Being able to read a horse racing form card is, understandably, very important if you want to be successful.
Below we explain the different aspects of the card along with other factors you should consider before placing your bets. You can use the image below of a fairly standard online UK racecard as reference.
The first larger number (far left) is the number of the horse in the race (which you will also see on the horse’s saddle throughout the race) assigned by the track officials. These numbers are always displayed on a racecard in order of the amount of weight the horse is carrying.
The smaller number (to the right of the horses number) represents the draw that the horse has got in the stalls. The lower the number, the closer the horse will be to the rails which can be an advantage on certain tracks and distances.
Below the horses NO. is a line of numbers which represent the horses form. Form runs from left to right, with the oldest races on the left and the most recent on the right.
- The numbers 1-9 indicate the position the horse finished in the race.
- The number 0 indicates that the horse finished outside the first 9.
- The symbol – separates racing seasons. Numbers before the – are for last season.
- The symbol / indicates a longer gap – for example if the horse missed an entire racing season.
- P or PU indicates that the horse was pulled up by the jockey and did not complete the race.
The following abbreviations normally apply to jump racing:
- F indicates the horse fell.
- R indicates a horse refused.
- BD indicates the horse was brought down by another runner.
- U or UR indicates that the horse unseated its jockey.
The second column displays the name of the horse along with the shirt (known as silks) that the jockey will wear. You will also see a number (which shows how many days it was since the horse last ran) and some abbreviations.
- C indicates a horse has won on that course before.
- D indicates a horse has won over that distance before.
- CD indicates a horse has won over that course and distance before.
- BF stands for beaten favourite and indicates a horse was favourite for a race, but did not win.
This shows the age of the horse (fairly self explanatory).
Again, this is is also fairly self explanatory. This is the amount of weight the horse will carry (including the jockey and the saddle) as decreed by the conditions of the race. You may also see some more abbreviations depending on whether the horse is wearing or using any equipment.
- b indicates the horse is wearing blinkers.
- v indicates the horse is wearing a visor.
- e/s indicates the horse is wearing an eyeshield.
- c/c indicates the horse is wearing a eyecover.
- h indicates the horse is wearing a hood.
- t indicates the horse is wearing a tongue strap.
- p indicates the horse is wearing a cheek pieces.
Underneath the weight of the horse is the official rating of the horse. These ratings allow horses to compete in handicap races where the higher rated horses carry more weight.
Jockey & Trainer
This shows both the name of the jockey and the trainer of the horse. If a jockey has a number in brackets to the side of his name then it means he is an apprentice jockey and is claiming a weight allowance.
The final column shows the odds bookmakers are offering for the horse to win.
Other Factors To Consider
There are a number of other factors you should consider before placing your bets.
It is important to consider the type of race (flat race, chase, hurdle or bumper) and whether the race is a handicap. You should also look at the distance of the race as well as the size of the field.
Different horses prefer different surfaces so the condition (also known as the ‘going’) of the track can have a key bearing on the outcome of a race. Standard going descriptions are as follows:
- Good to Soft
- Good to Firm
In conclusion, 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. It is also crucial that you understand the different aspects of a horse racing form card and that you are aware of the different factors you need to consider in order to increase your chances of being successful.