A guide on how to bet on horse racing
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has shut down professional sport across the globe. From football to tennis, motorsport to basketball, it seems every sport has gone into lockdown, and has therefore severely limited online betting options.
However, there is one major exception: horse racing continues around the world, although under strict measures and without the presence of trackside spectators. Considering the circumstances and with most other sport not returning for the foreseeable future, this is the best time to get into horse racing betting.
Here is a complete guide to betting on the horses so you can get started today.
Types of horse races
All horse races can be placed in two categories: flat racing and National Hunt racing. Flat racing is just as described, with horses racing on a flat track – either around a curved track or in a straight line – with the winner being the first horse to cross the post.
National Hunt racing, meanwhile, is a more challenging style of race for both horse and jockey as it comprises obstacles on the track and the races are typically much longer. These races are categorized into hurdles and steeplechases.
Races are then categorized by Group based on the importance of the race. Group 1 races are the biggest races involving the best horses and the largest prize money. Then there are Group 2 races – the next classification down – Group 3, listed, and then handicap races.
Horse racing bets explained
There are a number of ways to bet on horse races – some very straightforward, others a little more complicated. Here are the most common bets explained.
Win bet: A win bet is a single bet that is placed on a horse to win the race. For example, if you placed a bet on Country House, who won Kentucky Derby, to win the 2019 race at 30/1 (which were his pre-race odds), then you would have made a successful bet.
Each Way bet: This is the most popular style of horse racing bet. Each Way bets are two bets in one, as you are betting on the horse to win and place in the top places outlined by the betting company. The bet stake is therefore double. The amount of Each Way places will depend on how many horses are taking part in the race and typically the odds are reduced to 1/4. For example, if you placed £10 Each Way on Country Horse to win the 2019 Kentucky Derby, the total wager will be £20, and your returns would be: £395 (£10 x 30/1 + £10 stake = 310 and £10 x 30/1 x 0.25 + £10 stake = £85).
Forecast bet: This is a more advanced bet that will see you bet on the two horses to finish first and second. This can be a Straight Forecast – when the two horses must place in an exact order – or a Reverse Forecast, which means the horses must place in the top two but in either order.
Double and multiple bets: A double bet is when you combine two bets from two different races on the same bet slip. Both bets then need to be successful for the overall bet to be successful. This same method can be extended to any number of bets across any number of races. These are called multiple bets (3-fold, 4-fold, 5-fold, etc) or accumulators. There are other types of multiple bets that are a little more complicated. A Trixie bet is four bets made up of three doubles and one treble – three selections need to be placed for this bet. Then there is a Yankee bet: six doubles, four trebles and one four-fold – for this bet you will need to make four selections and 11 separate bets will be placed.
What to consider when picking a horse
There are many factors to consider when deciding which horse to place a bet on. Some of this information is available on the race listing on the betting site, including form, gate number, track surface and condition, age, jockey and trainer.
Form is important to determine how well a horse has recently performed while the gate number could be crucial as a wide gate is typically a disadvantage. Meanwhile, track surface could be vital as some horses perform differently on different surfaces. For instance, some horses race better on turf while others perform better on dirt or synthetic. Equally, track condition can play a big part and is commonly called the ‘going’ of the track. These are: hard, firm, good to firm, good, good to soft, soft, and heavy.
It is also worth taking note of the horse’s jockey and trainer. If a trainer has two or more horses entered into the same race, see which horse is being ridden by the trainer’s top jockey. This will be the horse they believe has the best chance of winning the race.
Elsewhere, spend some time doing some additional research in the days leading up to the race. There are many websites dedicated to horse racing news that can give you up to date information. The more information you have, the better your betting choices will be and therefore your chances of success will be higher.