A Simple Guide to Betting on Horse Racing

simple guide to betting on horse racing

This is the easiest thing in the world, just select one or more of your horses from the racing card, and then decide which type of bet you want to make. Remember, you can choose to use a tote bag or a bookmaker to gamble. Although some bookmakers may have the least bets, your bets can be unlimited.

If Royal Ascot has whetted your appetite for betting on horses this summer, here is a simple five-step guide to betting on horse racing.

Which type of bookie is right for you to bet on a horse?

Whether you are betting on small stakes or playing up your Ascot winnings, you should still make sure that you are getting the best bookmakers service available. If you are a relative novice, the wide range of different sports betting sites can be a bit daunting.

All of them are competing for your custom and there are some tremendous special offers for new customers. We regularly update the introductory offers from the top betting exchange markets and it is certainly worth shopping around.

Traditional bookmakers bet at “fixed odds” while the exchange prices can be a little harder to understand. Take time and browse our recommended bookies like Smarkets, Matchbook, Spreadex, BetDaq, and Betfair to make sure that you understand the layout and the process of placing a bet online. All leading bookmaker sites have their own help buttons and FAQ sections.

Horse Racing Bets Type

When you bet on the ponies, you have two types of wagering to choose from: straight wager and exotic wager. I recommend that you stick to straight bets for a beginner. Simple and inexpensive. You only pick a horse in the first, second, or third position. The lowest bet for a straight bet is just $2 in most tracks.

You may put several bets on several horses in a single wager with exotic wagers. Exotic bets typically are much difficult to gain, need a higher degree of expertise and ability in horse picking, and are more costly than straight wagers. The payoffs for exotic wagers are far higher, however.

Straight betting

Know, you just bet on one horse with a straight wager.

WIN– You’re betting that your horse would come in the first place. You get to collect if your horse is done first.

PLACE– You bet it comes in first or second when you bet on your horse to “place” You get to collect whether your horse ends first or second. The money you make is less than the win, so if your horse finishes at the top two positions, you will be able to cash in.

SHOW– You bet that in first, second, or third, your horse will come. Since you hedge your bets, you are more likely to win, but the payoff on a show bet is considerably lower than the wager on a win or position.

ACROSS THE BOARD– When you bet across the board, you’re betting your horse to win, place, AND show. An over-the-board bet is what is known as a ‘straight combo wager,’ since there are three different bets in one. Since it’s three bets in one, an across-the-board bet is more costly than a simple win/place/show wager. A $2 over-the-counter wager, for example, would cost you $6 when you make 3 $2 bets. You get the win, position, and show money when you first arrive at your horse. You get a place and show money if your horse gets second. You just get the show money if your horse comes third. Cross-board wagering is typically not a successful wager, because it costs and has smaller potential for benefit.

WIN/PLACE, SHOW/PLACE– Equivalent to a board wager, except you place several straight bets on one bet. You bet your horse to win AND place in a win/place bet. If he scores, both the victory and the money are collected. Just the money you earn from the position if he finishes second. You bet your horse will show and place in a place/show bet. You collect the position and reveal the money when the horse is second; you only earn the show money when he finishes the seventh. As you have multiple bets on your horse for a single bet, it’s more expensive to win/place and place/show. You’re going to be losing $4 for a $2 win/size bet because you bet $2 for your horse to win and $2 for your horse.

The major horse races and how to bet on a horse in them

Flat racing on turf begins in March and runs through to November with all-weather flat racing throughout the year. National Hunt racing begins in earnest in October through to April but regular summer meetings ensure that jumping enthusiasts are well catered for.

The Flat is dominated by the five Classic races; 1000 Guineas and 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, The Derby and Oaks at Epsom, and St Leger at Doncaster. Royal Ascot is followed by the Newmarket July Cup meeting, Glorious Goodwood, and the York Ebor Festival.

The Cheltenham Festival in March and the Aintree Grand National in April are red-letter days for jumping fans. Other notable races over fences include the Welsh National at Chepstow and the Scottish National at Ayr.

Different types of bet for betting on the horses

The most common form of betting on horse racing is the simple win bet. You simply pick your horse and place your bet. Each-way betting is slightly more complicated. You divide your stake with a win and place a bet. The win part is calculated by multiplying the odds but the place dividend is calculated at one-fifth of the odds or one-quarter of the odds in handicaps.

You can also “lay” or bet against a horse on betting exchanges but make sure that you fully understand the risks involved in this type of betting. You are effectively acting as the bookmaker so will have to have sufficient funds to pay out, should that horse win.

Many punters like to put horses together in multiple bets in the hope of winning a lot of money for a small stake. The Patent links three horses together in singles, doubles, and a treble i.e. 7 x your original stake. The Yankee is 11 bets on four horses in doubles, trebles, and an accumulator. All multiple and accumulator bets are explained on the bookmaker sites.

Sports spread betting bookies also offer some great new offers for horse bettors to try out that particular type of betting. Read our interview with Spreadex founder on why it’s not for everyone though.

Where to find the best odds for horse race betting

There are several excellent odds comparison sites to help you find the best value for your bet. You will need more than one account if you are to take advantage of the very best prices available. The horse racing betting exchanges frequently provide better value than fixed odds bookmakers.

You should never bet at the starting price (or SP) as these odds tend to shorten up before the start, especially for the biggest races. Most bookmakers now offer a “Best Odds Guaranteed” so that you will be paid out at whichever is the better price, the odds at the time of your bet or starting price.

Betting responsibly on the ponies

It is most important that you understand the risks involved and only bet what you can afford. Betting can be very exciting but only if you bet within your means. Make you that you know your own limit and stick to it. Do keep a close eye on your betting account and never chase your losses.

All bookmaker sites carry home page links to help you bet responsibly. Should you have any concerns about your betting activity, there are several highly qualified support agencies that can be contacted 24/7.

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Aideen O.
Aideen O.
Obsessed with the sport and bet relates, Aideen is responsible for the editorial direction of Betopin and has covered sports for more than 15 years. He became editor-in-chief of the site in 2013. Aideen specializes in covering all things sports & casinos, having reviewed dozens of sportsbooks and casinos. Aideen was previously reviews editor at other sports sites, and his work has appeared in Important sports portals. Email: aideen@betopin.com 40 Patrick St, Waterford, X91 X3KF. 353-653-83514

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