Horse Racing Odds Explained

Horse Racing Odds Explained

It’s 2021 and we finally get to step foot on a racecourse again and place a bet at a racecourse instead of sitting on our sofa watching tv and having a bet. You have your betting tips and selections ready to go.

We all strive for that big winner of magical placepot to gather pace so you can cash out on a big win.

But, are you someone that is new to horse racing betting and do not understand the ins and out of odds and betting terms? If you are then you have come to the right place.

One of the easiest ways to lose money on horse racing is to go in blindfolded and not know what you are doing. So, if you want to know the correct way to approach horse racing betting and the odds, then trust me, keep scrolling down.

What Are Horse Racing Odds?

Odds are simply prices that are generated from bookmakers to online exchanges that tell you the percentage that they think each horse has of winning that selected race.

So, with on-course bookmakers like Betpack or your local betting shop, you will see the odds displayed as fractions.

For example, is your selected horse odds are displayed as 11/2, this means that for every €/£2 that you place on your horse you will get back €/£13 including your €/£2 stake.

Here we will show you some more examples and how you might hear them on the racecourse.


  • How it sounds – 6 to 4
  • Wager – You will get €/£6 profit for every €/£4 that you place on your selection.
  • Full pay-out – If your horse wins at 6/4 and you have placed a bet of €/£4, you will receive a total of €/£10 back.


  • How it sounds – 20 to 1
  • Wager –You will get €/£20 profit for every €/£1 that you have placed on your selection
  • Full pay-out – If your horse wins at 20/1and you have placed a bet of €/£1, you will then receive a total of €/£20 back

Now before we get into all the horse racing lingo and odds let us just explain what the difference is from on-course bookmakers and betting exchanges.

What are the odds of horse racing on a betting exchange?

So, if you chose to drift over to an online betting exchange when on the racecourse then the following tips might help you along the way.

Odds displayed on betting exchanges are in decimals. So instead of having a fraction price of 3/1 on the exchange, it will be displayed as 4.1

So unlike fractions, if you put €/£10 on odds of 4.1 on the exchange you will get

Horse Racing Markets

Now onto the markets, and after explaining this you will be able to understand how the odds work for each bet that you place be it on a straight win bet or forecast bet.

Betting to Win

This is the most popular and easiest bet in horse racing. Select the horse you think has the best chance to win the race and hope he/she crosses the finishing line first, then you are onto a winner.

Each Way Betting

Each-way betting is two bets combined into one. You are betting half of your stake (the amount you bet on the horse) to win and the other half for the horse to be placed.

If your horse goes on to win you get both the win and place side of the bet.

But, if your horse manages to place you only get a fraction of the odds, depending on what fraction were on offer prior to the off of the selected race

There are a few variables when it comes to each-way betting that you need to look out for when placing your wager.

A minimum of 5 runners needs to line up before the start of the race.

A field of 5-7 runners pays out on the 1st & 2nd placed horses at ¼ or 1/5 of the odds, depending on the sportsbook you are using of the odds.

With 8 or more horses in the lineup, you will get the first 3 places on the each way side of your bet. Again, the fraction of the each way side depends on the sportsbook/bookmaker you choose to use.

In handicaps, you will get more places for more runners

With 12-15 runners, you will have 1st to 3rd as your each wayside of the bet.

16 or more, gives you the chance of 1st to 4th as you each-way bet.

Here is a quick example – You Bet £/€10 each-way on A Plus Tard at 8-1 in a 16-runner handicap. If it finishes 4th, you receive £/€30 i.e. ¼ odds x your £/€10 stake plus your £/€10 place stake. If it wins you receive £/€120 i.e. Your £/€30 place bet return plus £/€90 for your £/€10 win bet.

Here is a very useful tip when backing on a handicap be it at the racecourse or with your online sportsbook. As said before the fraction of the each way side of your all depends on who you decide to place your bet with, so be sure to shop around for the best value on the track or online, because you will always have different fractions with a number of sportsbooks.

With so much competition with online betting you will get some offers 6 places instead of 4 but at 1/5 of the odd, so be sure to check all the special offers from your online bookmaker.

Place Only Betting

Place only betting is becoming more and more popular when you have a race with an odds on shot in it. This bet takes out the odds on favourite and as a result of that you have 2nd and 3rd place to play with to make a profit. The downside to this is the odds of the horse you might want to pick will be considerably shorter in this market

Ante-Post Betting

Ante-Post betting has become one of the most popular betting markets over the past number of years, especially in around the National Hunt season. Your most popular horse racing event to back on ante-post would be the Cheltenham Festival where the odds you get in an ante-post best might be a lot higher come the day of the race. Ante-Post betting markets are commonly under ‘Future Bets’ or ‘Special Bets’ in the horse racing section of your online bookmaker.

There is a huge temptation to secure big odds what you consider for the next Cheltenham Festival hero a few months out. But with the comes the risk of ante-post betting.

If you back in any ante-post market and your horse does not run in the attended race that you backed it for, then you lose your stake. But, also with that comes the huge reward of collecting big if he does run and win.

For example, if Allaho was 25/1 to win the Ryanair Chase at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival, and then he went on to win on that day at odds of 12/1, then you will be getting paid out on the 25/1 odds that you took all those months ago.

Non-Runner Money Back

There is an exception to this rule when it comes to ante-post betting with the Cheltenham Festival. You can get Ante-Post markets that are called ‘Non-Runner Money Back’ (NRMB). This is still an ante-post market but with the added bonus of, if your horses do not run, you will get your money back.

Forecast/Tricast Betting

Forecast and Tricast bets involve you trying to determine who will finish 1st and 2nd or 1st, 2nd and 3rd in that order. For a small wager, the reward can be big.

Here are explanations of some of these bets:

  • Stright Forecast – Pick the 1st and 2nd to finish in that order.
  • Straight Tricast – Pick the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd to finish in that order.
  • Reverse Forecast – Pick 2 horses to finish 1st and 2nd in any order.
  • Reverse Tricast – Pick 3 horses to finish 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in any order.

Multiple Bets

Some of the following bets are very popular in the horse racing and sports world. You can combine short-priced favourites together to get a return or go for the life-changing return with a long odds accumulator.

  • Double – Combine two horses in one bet, but both horses must win for you to get a return.
  • Treble – Combine three horses in one bet, all three must-win for you to get a return.
  • Trixie – Combine three horses in 3 doubles and 1 treble, 4 bets in total. You only need 2 horses to win to get a return. If you prefer to have the prospect of a return from only 1 winner, you can place a “Patent” which also includes 3 single win bets i.e. 7 bets in total.
  • Yankee – 4 selections in 6 doubles, 4 trebles, and 1 accumulator. You need 2 horses to win to get a return i.e. 11 bets in total. If you would prefer to guarantee a return from only 1 winner, the “Lucky 15” also includes 4 single bets i.e. 15 bets in total. This bet can sometimes include the incentive of double the odds if only one selection wins or a bonus if all horses are successful.
  • Lucky 31 – combines five selections in the same way as a Canadian or Super Yankee but also includes 5 single bets for 31 bets in total. As with the Lucky 15, there are often extra bonus payments on offer.
  • Super Yankee – 5 selections in 10 doubles, 10 trebles, 5 four-way accumulators, and 1 five-way accumulator i.e. 26 bets in total.
  • Heinz – combines six horses in 57 bets: 15 doubles, 20 trebles, 15 fourfold, 6 fivefold, and 1 accumulator. A minimum of two of your selections must win in order to get a return.

Horse Racing Odds Jargon Explained

Here we will explain all the jargon that you are likely to hear when on the racecourse or when you visit your local bookmaker.

Fixed odds – This bet is where you get the odds-on offer advertised by the sportsbook at the time of placing your bet. Also, note the if you place a bet on the night before the race, some bookmakers do not guarantee the best price until 8.00 am on the day of the race

  • Odds on – This phrase is used for a favourite that is very short in the market, for example, any horse that odds are 10/11 or lower is considered odds on.
  • Long odds – This is a term used to describe an outsider of the field.
  • Late Money – This is often a phrase that you will hear on the TV. This simply means that there has been a late surge of bets place on one horse and his odds have shortened dramatically.
  • Odds board – This is simply the board that every bookmaker will have with the odds of each race displayed on them.

The Finishing Line

When it comes to horse racing odds, there can be so many words, phrases, and jargon that can put off any beginner.

But don’t let this put you off. We have just given you your free odds & betting markets for horse racing explained that you can have on hand just at the click of a button. But remember, have fun betting, you are here to have fun, so when the fun stops, stop.

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Andrew Halligan
Andrew Halligan
Andrew is our lead sports writer. He covers all the latest news in sports and excels in football and horse racing. Andrew is also the presenter of YouTubes horse racing podcast - The Finishing Line, where he gives the week's best betting tips on horse racing. His in-depth knowledge of betting on sports and online betting has become renowned in the world of horse racing and further afield.

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