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 exchanges 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.
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 the 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 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.