Horse racing spread betting offers a different element to wagering on this every popular equine sport. Instead of betting on fixed odds provided by the bookies, there are different markets crafted from all parts of a horse race. Read below to learn more!

  • Comprehensive horse racing spread betting site
  • Wide range of spread markets
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  • Good reputation in spread betting industry
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UK Gambling Commission
Live Stream
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Native App
Established in 1992
UK Gambling Commission
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Support 24/7
Native App
Established in 1992
18+ Spread betting losses can exceed deposit. Full T&Cs apply. Bet Responsibly. #ad
Spreadex Horse Racing Spread Betting Screenshot
(Source: Spreadex)

The first thing you need to know about spread betting is that it is completely different to fixed-odds wagering.

For fixed-odds wagering, you simply place a stake on a selected price offered by your bookmaker. If you’re successful, your winnings are calculated on the value of your wager amount and the odds of your bet, whether it be a single, double, accumulator, forecast or trifecta among others.

Horse racing spread betting brings different elements into play with your wagers. It allows you to analyze the odds and buy or sell a horse’s chances to win the race based on the starting price. Moreover, this approach also opens up a number of other exciting options for you as a punter.

Spread betting sites also offer markets such as race and jockey indexes, where horses and jockeys are given values based on their chances of winning a race(s). Here, you can back whether a runner will finish higher or lower than the anticipated value.

Matched bets allows you to pit two horses or jockeys against each other, while you can bet on the winning margin in distance. There are no shortage of spread betting options, but you should still consider the odds at hand before placing your bet.

Spread betting does come at a greater risk, as you’re liable for losses based on the value of the odds at hand. However, you can also win more than you would for betting on fixed odds. Striking the right balance is important, so make sure that you’re comfortable with the rules of spread betting and the funds at stake before placing your wager.

There are many types of horse racing spread betting markets available online. We've described the most common examples right here in this section.

Spreadex Horse Racing Spread Betting Markets Screenshot
(Source: Spreadex)

Starting Prices

You can buy or sell horses based on their starting prices for the race. Unlike fixed-odds betting, there is a greater movement of odds on spread betting on which you can capitalize. Depending on your experience, you can use your knowledge of horse racing to bet on or against horses in the field. This type of bet offers particularly good value for selling against the favourites in races, although it does come at a greater risk.

The value of your stake can secure you a significant payout, but can also cause for you to be liable if the horse wins the race. So, there is a careful balance to strike between how ambitious you want to be on this particular bet. If you have a strong conviction and have put in the time to research the horses in the field, then it could be worth your while.

Race Index

A race index is where points are awarded based on where a horse places in a race. Most bookies base their index where the winner of the race is awarded 50 points, the horse that finishes in second place receives 25, and the third-place horse gets 10.

Alternatively, if there is a large field for a race such as the Grand National or Cheltenham Festival, the scale is adjusted to add an additional horse at the lowest rank of 10 points, while the second-place horse and the third-place horse are scaled upwards to 30 and 20 points respectively.

Race Index for Fields 11 Horses or Less

Winner50 Points
Second Place25 Points
Third Place10 Points
Fourth and Below0 Points

Race Index for Fields 12 Horses or More

Winner50 Points
Second Place30 Points
Third Place20 Points
Fourth Place10 Points
Fifth and Below0 Points

Before every race, a horse is awarded a value by the bookies based on where they are expected to finish.

For example, a favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup could be awarded a value between 40 and 42. You can either sell or buy respectively on the two values.

You can sell the value of 40 value on a stake of your choice, and the principal is exactly the same for buying.

If you sell the 40 value at £1, and the horse goes on to win the race, you’ll stand to lose £10 as a liability. This is because there is a minus 10-point difference between the horse’s sell value and the actual result of the race in favour of the bookies.

40 (sell value) – 50(horse standings) = – 10 (loss)

If the horse were to not finish in the top five, you would stand to gain £40. This is because there is a 40-point difference in your favour.

40 (sell value) – 0 (horse standings) = + 40 (win)

The sum of money involved either for a win or a loss is based on the value of your stake. If you were to sell at an increased value of £5 and the horse were to finish outside the top three, you would gain £200. The principal is the same as using £1, but you multiply your value by five rather than by one.

Buying on a horse is more straightforward, but carries the same risk and reward. For a bet on the favourite to yield a profit using the race index it would need to win.

For example, a £1 bet on the buy market at 42 would yield an £8 win. This is because the margin of points falls eight points in your favour.

50 (horse standings) – 42 (buy value) = +8 (win)

If your horse were to finish third in an 11 horse race, rather than win, you would stand to lose £32 in liabilities.

10 (horse standings) – 42 (buy value) = -32 (loss)

So, you must bear in mind all the potential costs for using the race index before placing a horse racing bet using the spread.

Jockey Index

The jockey index works in a similar way to the race index, although the value given to a jockey is based over the course of one day/meeting rather than a single race.

Winner25 Points
Second Place10 Points
Third Place5 Points
Fourth Place or Below0 Points

Jockeys are assigned a value based on their expected performance for wins, as well as second and third-place finishes. You have the option to buy or sell based on their values in the same manner as you would on the race index.

Spreadex Jockey Index Screenshot
(Source: Spreadex)

Make sure to check all booked rides before a meeting to determine which jockeys are in action on which horse. If there are last-minute changes to the ride based on injury or other circumstances, more often than not the performance of the horse will count towards your bet even if your selected jockey does not compete.

This market is a particularly notable one for major events such as Royal Ascot and Cheltenham Festival, where the leading jockeys will be in action on many of the top horses in the sport.

Favourites Index

The favourites index is another form of index betting that is available for race days. Bookies will assign a value based on how many points they expect the favourites to accumulate based on their race index.

You simply have to buy or sell whether you believe that the favourites will fail to reach the mark or surpass it. This is a very similar market to the jockey index, but focuses on the leading horses on a particular race day rather than the rest of the field.


You can also place horse racing spread bets on the total winning distances over the course of a meet or festival. It is a particularly notable bet for events such as Cheltenham Festival, although it is readily available at race meets across the world.

The bookie will provide a value it believes that the cumulative winning distance will be, and you simply need to bet on whether the correct amount will be over or under the amount.

There is a cap on the top winning value at 12 lengths, which protects both the bookies and customer in case of an outlier result. The majority of races are decided by a lesser margin. There are special markets available for alternate lengths, although these offer greater risk-reward for both parties. For distances less than a length, the values are as follows:

  • List Icon

    Nose: 0.05

  • List Icon

    Short Head: 0.1

  • List Icon

    Head: 0.2

  • List Icon

    Short Neck: 0.25

  • List Icon

    Neck: 0.3

  • List Icon

    Half a Length: 0.5

  • List Icon

    Three Quarters of a Length: 0.75

So, if you have a strong understanding of the respective fields on a race meet or a festival, this can be a good way to make a solid profit.

Winning Favourites

Betting on winning favourites is a widely popular horse racing spread market, offered by all major betting sites. In this market, you can choose to either buy or sell, based on your prediction of whether the number of winning favourites will surpass the value set by the bookie. Your decision hinges on how you feel about the quality of the favoured runners in a particular race.

Match Bets

Match bets provide an opportunity to focus on a select pair of competitors in a race, effectively narrowing the field to just two runners. In this market, your task is simple: you need to place a bet on which horse will emerge as the winner or loser by a specified margin.

Your bookmaker will assign values to each of the two competitors, reflecting their prediction of how the race is expected to unfold. You can choose whether to buy or sell on either horse, utilising your chosen stake in the process. This allows you to engage with the market according to your analysis and instincts.

Spreadex Match Bets Screenshot
(Source: Spreadex)

The most a horse can win by is 12 lengths for flat racing and 15 on the National Hunt. If you buy and your horse is successful by more than the assigned value, your profit can be increased by a significant amount from your original stake. Alternatively, if the horse fails, you can be held liable for the losing distance.

Horse racing spread betting is more nuanced than traditional fixed-odds betting, so it requires a greater emphasis on strategy. Given that the stakes involved can be more volatile, you need to be aware of all the key elements that go into picking winners for horse racing. Here are our top tips.


Research is vital before placing any bet, but especially for horse racing when there are so many elements to consider. Before you back any horse or jockey, you will want to know all the key details such as their form and injury history.

Fortunately, there are numerous resources available online that provide extensive details about the past performances of horses and jockeys over the course of their careers.

Knowing the Owners and Trainers

After following horse racing for a period of time, you’ll get to know the key people behind the scenes: the owners and trainers. Owners can be heavily involved or completely hands-off, leaving their charges in the hands of trainers.

Look out for little tells that are usually covered by horse racing news sites, such as whether an owner places a particular horse in a particular race. Knowing the top trainers involved in flat and jumps racing is also crucial, like Aidan O’Brien, John and Thady Gosden, Willie Mullins and Nicky Henderson.

However, while their horses are always among the best at the top events, their charges are not infallible. Horses from unheralded yards can just as easily win major events, so it's important to remain open-minded and never to discount the possibility of upsets.

Understanding The Markets

Although we covered the majority of racing spread markets available online further above, you need to make sure that you thoroughly understand complexities of these markets before placing your stake. Take the time to read through all the provided information and double-check the details before going ahead with any wagers.

The more you explore various markets, the more opportunities you'll be able to discover, securing more profit for your bankroll. All of this can result in a more fruitful and enriching betting journey!

Picking The Right Race/Event

Selecting right race or event can be just as tricky as picking the best horse or jockey. If you're new to spread betting, we advise sticking to the major events, because there is so much more information about the runners and riders available, along with other elements such as the weather and grounding at the racecourse.

As you build more confidence over time, you'll be able to be more adventurous with your bets and try out more complex options offered by your bookie.

Backing The Right Horse

Those new to horse racing can fall into the trap of backing the favourite all the time or selecting their horse or jockey based on sentiment.

A successful bettor removes sentiment and bias out of the equation and simply picks the horse that is best suited to win their wager based careful research done beforehand. If you remain indecisive about a particular horse, then it’s best to steer clear, regardless how fond you happen to be of the runner in question. Fortunately, there are no shortage of races and meets every day, so you should have no problem finding an alternative pick!

Watching Your Budget

Watching your budget is even more important for spread betting than it is for fixed odds due to the extra risk of liabilities. While winning can bring significant profits, substantial liabilities and potential losses lie in wait should things turn against you.

When starting off, begin with small bets before gradually working your way up. Only wager with what you’re comfortable losing and be sure to read all the details of the bet before confirming your wager online.

So you're ready to try things out – but where, exactly? Find out by checking out our below recommendations!


Spreadex Home Page Screenshot
(Source: Spreadex)

Spreadex is one of the best spread betting sites available in the United Kingdom.

Here, you'll find hundreds of markets for various events, such as Cheltenham, Royal Ascot, a basic meet at Newbury Racecourse, or even for races further afield in the United States, South Africa, and more. All markets offer plenty of valuable information for your wagers, along with competitive value across the board.

Indexes at Spreadex are fair and provide enough value for bettors to lodge their wagers for race, jockeys, and favourites.

Fixed-odds betting is also available for those who prefer a more traditional form of wagering, making Spreadex one of the few online bookmakers that provide such a comprehensive service for horse racing.

Beyond the markets, this site also has a compelling sign-up bonus available for spread betting. Customers can also expect to receive regular promotions for betting on horse racing, with options for free bets and bet insurance. There are a great range of features available, including livestreaming, and even a useful guide to spread betting complete with FAQs and video explainers. It also belongs to the group of the betting sites with cash out.

Tying all the above together nicely is a user-friendly interface that makes navigating through the site a total breeze.

Sporting Index

Sporting Index Home Page Screenshot
(Source: Sporting Index)

Sporting Index welcomes new customers in style, offering up to 50% cashback on net losses of £500 for bets placed within the first week of registration.

There are up to 18 sports to bet on here, including, of course horse racing. However, it does not quite provide the range of horse racing markets as you’ll find on SpreadEx; instead, Sporting Index is limited to races in the United Kingdom and Ireland. This is slightly disappointing, but the service provided is still a solid one, although not as effective.

If you want a wider selection of markets, then you'll need to opt for fixed-odds wagering, which is also available on this platform.

While the actual site itself is very well-designed and easy to use, the aesthetics are not quite as easy on the eye and the features are lacking compared to SpreadEx. There are also no promotions for existing customers on spread betting, but you’ll find options for fixed-odds for horse racing and others.

There are pros and cons to both spread betting and fixed-odds when it comes to horse racing. There’s no right or wrong answer as to which format is best – it all comes down to your personal preferences.

Having said that, there are noticeable differences between the two formats and what you can get out of your wagering experience as a customer. Here's a quick glance at the advantages and shortcomings of both.

Pros and Cons of Spread Betting

  • Extensive range of betting markets
  • Potential for significant profits
  • Makes every race exciting
  • Rewards bettors for being bold
  • Adds a different dimension to betting
  • You can lose more than you bet
  • Can be tricky to understand at first
  • Only a small amount of sites offer spread betting
  • Not as many promotions available than fixed odds

Pros and Cons of Fixed-Odds Betting

  • Easy to understand
  • More control over your losses
  • Know how much you can win
  • Wider range of promotions available
  • Potentially not as lucrative as spread betting

Horse racing spread betting allows you to wager on a value provided by your bookie, backing over or under the value to win bets.

Spreadex and Sporting Index are the best horse racing spread betting sites in the United Kingdom.

There are numerous markets available, including Starting Price, Race Index, Jockey Index, Winning Distances, Winning Favourites, and more.

Yes. Cash out is available at leading spread betting sites.

Yes. Spreadex offers livestreaming on both its desktop platform and app, allowing you to watch events as they unfold in real time.

Horse racing spread betting is gaining in popularity, offering a different and exciting dimension to your wagers. Ideal for more experienced punters, it also offers potential for higher returns, especially if you enjoy strategic and analytical challenges.

To try things out, scroll up to explore our recommendations above and sign up today!

WRITTEN BY Adam Abela View all posts by Adam Abela

Adam is avid sports writer (5 years and counting) who has been betting for as long as he's been legally able to. As an Arsenal fan, he knows a thing or two about the importance of patience (and heartbreak).

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