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Tuesday 17 December 2019

Horse Racing Bets Explained

Watching a horse race becomes a lot more exciting when you have money riding on the outcome. Gambling goes hand-in-hand with the sport of kings, and these are the options at your disposal if you decide to enjoy a flutter on the action: 

Single Horse Racing Bet

This is the most common type of bet as it simply requires you to predict which horse will finish the race first. It is also known as a straight bet or a winning bet. 

The bookmakers will assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of each challenger and assign a set of odds to each one. There will be a favourite and the odds will grow progressively longer on the various horses until you reach the rank outsider. 

In the UK, you will generally see the odds rendered in a fractional format. You might see the favourite priced at 7/2, the second favourite at 11/2, another horse at 6/1 and so on, with the outsider priced at 33/1. If you choose to bet on the 11/2 horse, it means you win £11 for every £2 you stake. A £10 stake at 11/2 would earn you a profit of £55 if your prediction is successful. You also get your stake back on winning bets, so your return would be £65. 

You might also see 11/2 rendered as 6.5 in decimal format. You simply calculate that figure by your stake in order to arrive at your total return if successful. Odds can also be presented in American format, but you seldom see that in the UK. 

If the horse does not win, you lose your stake. When you place your bet, you can choose to take the odds currently available on the horse – which is known as “taking the price” – or opt to accept whatever the odds are when the race begins. The odds will change in the build-up to a race depending on how much action each horse is receiving from punters. Taking an early price is explained in more detail here

Each-Way Horse Racing Bet

This is a great option if you like the look of a horse that has been assigned a relatively high set of odds. It essentially means you place two bets – one on the horse winning and one on it placing. To place means to finish in the top two, three or four places, depending on the number of runners in the race. 

You will always be informed of the place terms before the race. If it is a small field, you might only be paid for the top two horses, whereas you will see the top four included in the place terms if the race features a large number of horses. Some bookmakers even payout on the top five or even the top six when it comes to the Grand National, which sees 40 horses engage in an epic battle at Aintree. The most commonplace terms are the top three horses, with a quarter of the odds on the place. 

Let’s say you like the look of a horse priced at 8/1 and you decide to bet £10 each-way. The place terms are a quarter of the odds on the top three. You are betting £10 on the win and £10 on the place, so your total stake will be £20. If the horse wins the race, both parts of the bet will pay off. You will earn an £80 profit on the £10. You get a quarter of the odds on the place, which is essentially 8/4, or 2/1. The £10 you bet on the place will, therefore, generate a profit of £20, resulting in a total profit of £100. You get the total stake back too, meaning a return of £120. 

If the horse finishes second or third, the win part of the bet is busted. However, the place part is successful. This means you earn a £20 profit on that part of the bet, and you get the £10 you staked on the place back, leaving you with a total return of £30. 

The key thing to remember is this: if the bookmaker is paying out a quarter of the odds, you will earn an overall profit on your bet if the horse places and has odds that are greater than 4/1. If the bookmaker is paying out a fifth of the odds, you will earn an overall profit on your bet if the horse places and has odds that are greater than 5/1. 

Horse Racing Forecast Bet 

This requires choosing the horse that will win the race and the horse that will finish second. This is obviously a lot more difficult, so you are generally rewarded with large odds and a high payout if you can pull it off. 

Reverse Forecast 

This is essentially two bets: Horse A to win and Horse B to finish second; and Horse B to win and Horse A to finish second. You just choose two horses and if they end up as the first two past the post your reverse forecast is successful. The larger the odds on each horse, the higher your payout if successful. 

Combination Forecast 

A combination forecast sees you choose the three horses that you think are the strongest in a particular race. One of them needs to win and another needs to finish second in order for your bet to payout. This is essentially six bets: Horse A to win and Horse B to finish second; Horse A to win and Horse C to finish second; Horse B to win and Horse A to finish second; Horse B to win and Horse C to finish second; Horse C to win and Horse A to finish second; and Horse C to win and Horse A to finish second. 

If you go for a £5 combination forecast, your total stake will, therefore, be £30. It is possible that the payout you receive will be less than £30 if the horses that finish first and second both have short odds assigned to them. For example, if it is the favourite and the second favourite, your return might not cover your stake. 


This requires you to predict the horse that will win the race, the horse that will finish second and the horse that will finish third. This is even harder to pull off than a forecast, but you are generally rewarded with a high payout if successful. 

Combination Tricast 

This involves picking three horses, and they can finish first, second and third in any order. This also amounts to a total of six bets, and therefore a £5 combination tricast requires a stake of £30. If those horses seize the top three places, you are likely to make a profit on your stake due to the high payout you generally receive on a successful tricast. 

Horse Racing Accumulator 

This includes rolling a number of different bets into one big wager in a bid to earn a higher payout. Let’s say you fancy Rocking Ron to win the 12.35 at Doncaster, Valtor to win the 2.30 at Cheltenham, Caballero to win the 3.10 at Newcastle and Mr Magic to win the 4.50 at Wolverhampton. You could place four separate bets, or you could combine them into a single accumulator. 

All four would need to win their respective races for your bet to pay off – if just one fails to win, your bet is busted – but if they do you will be rewarded with a large payout, far higher than you would receive if you simply divided your stake in four and placed individual bets on each horse. You can combine two selections for a double, three for a treble, four for a four-fold, five for a five-fold and so on. Frankie Dettori famously won all seven races on the card at Ascot back in 1996, and a punter called Darren Yeats from Morecambe placed a successful seven-fold on that outcome, winning a cool £550,000.  

Horse Racing Multiples 

You can also look at bets like a Trixie, Patent, Yankee, Lucky 15, Canadian, Lucky 31, Super Yankee, Heinz and Goliath. You choose a number of horses running in different races and then bet on various combinations. These bets are great if you are worried about one horse faltering and causing your accumulator to crumble. 

A Trixie sees you pick three horses and it then comprises four bets: three doubles and a treble. A patent involves picking three horses and you then place seven bets: a single on each of them, three doubles and a treble. A Goliath is a bet on eight selections taking part in various different races, comprising 28 doubles, 56 trebles, 70 fourfolds, 56 five-folds, 28 six-folds, eight seven-folds and an eightfold accumulator totalling 247 bets.

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