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Thursday 31 May 2018

A Beginners Guide to Betting on Horse Racing

Horse racing is one of the oldest sports in the world. For most of human history, people have used horses to race against one another, whether they are riding on the animal’s back, or following them in a cart or chariot. As long as we have had mastery over these animals, we have used them for competitive racing. Betting on horse racing is one of the most popular gambling activities in the world. If you want to get in on the action, here’s what you need to know to get started.

A Brief History of Horse Racing

Horse racing, in the form that we know it today, emerged during the 17th century. It is believed that King James I was largely responsible for the sport’s popularisation, as he regarded it as being “the sport of kings”, soon thereafter it became in vogue among the English aristocracy. 

Many people are surprised to learn that the biggest horse racing events in the UK can usually trace their origins back to the 1700s. It was around this time that the breeding and racing of horses became better regulated. This meant that not only did the sport become more popular, but breeders began to breed horses specifically for racing. 

Today, horse racing is one of the most watched, and the most gambled on, sports in the UK. Not only are the races widely televised, they are also broadcast on a number of online services. The internet has also facilitated betting on these races, helping to popularise horse racing as a gambler’s sport. Types of Horse Race

There are two distinct branches of horse racing in the UK: flat racing and National Hunt racing. Flat racing is as simple as it gets, horses line up, and then race along a track, which can be either a straight line or a circular route. The winner is the first one to make it over the finish line. National Hunt racing, on the other hand, is more complex. In this form of horse racing, there are obstacles on the tracks which the horse and jockey must navigate, generally by jumping over them. 

National Hunt racing is itself divided into two distinct categories: steeplechases and hurdles. There is actually a third type, bumpers, but this race is much less common. With steeplechases, horses jump over fences which are higher and more solid than the hurdles used in hurdles races. Another defining feature of steeplechases is the inclusion of environmental obstacles such as water jumps and open ditches. 

Both flat and National Hunt races are further categorised according to the age and experience of the horses and the distance they are expected to run.


A race’s classification tells you a great deal of information about the race. It will indicate the prestige of the event, as well as the amount to be paid out for winning gamblers, known as ‘purse money’. Classifications are also dependent upon the type and quality of the horses involved. The horses are divided into different groups. Group 1 is the highest classification and contains the best quality horses and the highest purses. There are also, in descending order of importance, Group 2 and Group 3.


A significant factor in the rising popularity of horse racing is the betting element. Many gamblers find that this adds an entirely new dimension and gives the sport some added excitement. If you are coming to horse racing as a total beginner, with a view to betting on the sport, it is worth taking as much time as you can beforehand to research what is involved.

If you have bet on other sports, you will have a fairly good idea of what is involved in betting on horse races. However, if you are new to gambling in general, there’s a lot to learn. Horse racing odds for individual races are easy to find online. They tell you both how likely a horse is to win, and the payout you will receive on your bet. For example, if a horse has odds of 20/1 (pronounced “twenty to one”) then a bet of £1 will pay-out £20 in winnings. You can find plenty of advice online concerning which horses to bet on for specific races.

As well as betting on individual horses, you can also place something known as an ‘each-way’ bet. An each-way bet is essentially two bets in one. The first pays out if the horse wins the race, the other pays out if it ‘places’. Depending on the number of horses in the race, a horse can place if it comes anywhere from second to fifth place. While an each-way bet will cost twice the stake of a to-win bet, but in exchange, you get a better chance of winning.

There are other types of bet available as well, but as a beginner, it is the above three you need to worry about. You can expand your repertoire later if you feel the need to. And there you have it! Do you have any other questions or comments? Have you been successful in your horse racing betting so far? Let us know in the comments section below.

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