How to Bet on Horse Racing

For millions of people, betting on the horses is a regular hobby and provides great fun, whilst for millions more the odd flutter on the big races such as those at the Cheltenham Festival or the Grand National, or during the occasional visit to watch horse racing live, adds huge excitement and interest to this wonderful sport.

However, if you’ve never had a bet on the racing before, or even if you’ve never had a bet at all, then this article is aimed at you as we take a look at how to choose a top-class betting site and how to place a bet.

Joining a Good Betting Site for Horse Racing

Sign Up

The first and one of the most important things to do is to join a good betting site. We say a ‘good’ one because not all betting sites were created equal. We have some recommendations on this site, and we only suggest bookmakers we use ourselves and have tested extensively. We’ve selected these sites because they are 100% trustworthy, offer brilliant horse racing coverage, excellent odds and the best free bets and ongoing betting offers around.

Free bets are a good way to get started and there are so many different options you are bound to find one that suits you. For beginners there are offers where you need to risk just £5 whilst for high rollers there are bookies that offer free bets of quite a bit more so take your pick.

The actual physical process of joining is also very easy, especially if you’ve ever bought an item online before. Effectively that’s all you’re doing in this case – signing up with an online retailer and “buying” bets from them.

Just enter your personal details in the same way you would at any retail site, including the addition of a deposit method – a debit card is best. Betting sites have security on par with banks and other financial institutions and which are certainly better than many other online retailers, so you can be confident your personal and financial details are secure.

The only extra element is verification. This is important to stop underage gambling and to make sure you are legally allowed to bet. It is sometimes done automatically from your details, but you might have to provide ID as extra proof. Don’t worry if this happens to you, it is totally normal.

How to Place a Bet on a Horse

Horse Racing Betting Website

Once you’ve joined an online/mobile bookmaker, the next step is to place your bet and that’s very simple too, even for a beginner. Assuming you know what horse you want to bet on – and check out our How to Pick Winners at Horse Racing feature if not – then you just need to navigate to that market.

Some betting sites offer a search facility that allows you to type the name of the horse or the track in order to find your bet. Most of the sites we recommend have horse racing as a featured market though, so either in the central column, on a menu bar on the left of the page or at the top, you should see “Horse Racing” listed. Navigating via this link and then the geographic area (e.g. the UK or Ireland) or simply the racecourse, then the time of the race should take you to the horse you are looking for. This is simple and intuitive and once you reach your horse just click on “Bet Now” or directly on the odds which will add your selection to an online betting slip – much easier than using a pen and paper in a betting shop.

The betting slip usually opens in the top right corner, although it may sometimes be elsewhere or you may have to click to expand it. On the betting slip you should check the name of the horse and the time and location of the race are correct and then decide whether you want to bet on the horse each way or to win. You may also be able to choose between the current price and the starting price but given almost all of the sites we work with offer Best Odds Guaranteed – meaning you can take the current price but get the starting price (SP) if that ends up being higher – it is usually best to accept the current odds.

Next up enter your stake – the amount you want to risk – noting that if your bet is each way a £5 bet will cost £10. When you are happy click “Place Bet”, “Bet Now” or similar and your bet should be placed. Note that some bookies may offer a second confirmation option, so make sure you click to finalise the bet if that is the case.

You can be sure your bet is placed when you receive a message stating the bet is confirmed, when you see a bet reference number or ID, seeing your balance goes down by the amount of your stake or by checking under your account for live or unsettled bets.

How do I get my Money if my Bets Wins?


When your bet wins the winnings will automatically be added to your account balance and then – assuming it isn’t a free bet or bonus that had some form of wagering terms attached – the money is yours to withdraw. It only takes seconds in most instances.

This is basically the opposite of how you made a deposit and the money is normally returned to the same method you deposited by within a day or so from when you make the withdrawal request. You can withdraw all of your winnings, some of it, or none at all, depending on whether you want to place more bets in the future.