Horse Racing Bets Explained: What Different Bets you can Make on the Horses
Betting on the horses is really easy…when you know what you’re doing – pretty much like everything else in this world of ours. However, for newcomers to the fun, excitement and thrill of the racing and gambling world, the variety of bets, jargon involved and number of different options can be overwhelming.
Here we take a look at the different bets you can place on horse racing to help ease you into this brilliant sport and hobby. We’ve got loads of other information for beginners too so check out the links below, or why not check out our Betting Guide hub?
If you know what you want to bet on, be sure to take a look at all of the racing free bets we have available. These help tip the odds your way, making it easier to make a profit. We only work with top racing betting sites too, so you can be sure they are reliable, trustworthy and totally legit.
Horse Racing Bets
Choosing what to bet on in horse racing is very straightforward, primarily because most people bet on just one or two markets, with one bet in particular dominating racing in a way that few other single markets dominate the betting of other big sports. That’s quite a roundabout way of saying that by far the most popular bet in horse racing is simply backing the race winner – betting on which horse will win a given race.
This market is not only the most commonly placed horse racing bet, it’s also the simplest. If your horse wins the race, you win; if it doesn’t, you don’t. And it pays out at whatever the standard odds are.
Each Way Bets
The above assumes you back the horse to win outright, or “on the nose” in racing slang. However, a really popular alternative, still within the race winner betting market is to back the horse “each way”.
An each way bet is effectively two bets in one, with a £10 each way bet costing £20 and £10 of that going on the horse to win, with £10 on it to “place”. The each way terms will vary according to the type of race and the number of runners, as well as the bookie, with many betting sites having offers of enhanced each way terms for big races such as the Grand National or the Cheltenham Festival. However, a typical example would be to pay a quarter of the odds for a top three finish (including first).
If your bet wins you win both bets, so will be paid £10 at the full odds and £10 at a quarter of the odds and receive your stake back on both bets as well. If the horse finishes outside the places, so fourth or lower in our example, you lose both bets, whilst if the horse finishes second or third you lose the win portion of your wager but get your £10 place stake back, plus winnings of a quarter of the odds on that.
Each way betting is so popular in horse racing because of the difficulty in predicting the winner. In football there are only two sides and three possible results, but racing, like golf – another sport on which each way betting is common – has many competitors, with races like the Grand National having 40 horses or more competing. Each way bets are normally placed on relative outsiders, or certainly horses at longish odds because with the return of a quarter (or the proportion for each way bets on that race, which can vary) it isn’t deemed worth it to back horses at very short odds.
Doubles, Trebles and Accas
An accumulator bet is a common form of wager on horse racing, though it can also be placed on other sports and even across a number of different sports. An accumulator, or acca, is a bet on a number of unrelated outcomes, for example you might back Red Rum in the 3.10 and Blue Murder in the 3.40. Where the outcomes are related, for example Red Rum to win the 3.10 and Ugly Duck to finish second, this is not an accumulator but one single bet, because the two events are closely related to each other and the odds of one happening impact upon the odds of the other happening.
Going back to our Red Rum and Blue Murder acca, the stake and winnings from the first bet are rolled over onto the second bet, effectively multiplying the odds together. So if both horses are priced at evens (2.00 in decimal betting odds), a £10 double means should the first horse win, you have £20 (£10 stake plus £10 winnings) riding on the second race, with possible returns of £40 in total.
This type of accumulator is called a double and is the most basic type. If you throw in another race it becomes a treble, another a four-fold and so on. Accumulators are popular because they make huge wins from small stakes possible but, of course, predicting one race is tough so getting several bets right is even harder.
Horse racing accas can either be “to win” (on the nose) or each way, with all horses needing to win for a return on the former and all to place or better on the latter.
Combination and Multiple Betting
Betfred is said to have invented a bet called the Lucky 15 and this is a combination bet that involves selecting four winners. This is called a full cover with singles bet and involves picking four horses, with 15 bets including a single bet on each individual race, all six possible doubles, the four possible trebles and a single four-fold accumulator.
You need just one horse to win to get a return but probably two or three – or even four, depending on the odds – to make an overall profit. The bet is 15 bets in one, so a £1 Lucky 15 will cost £15. Because of the difficulty of this type of bet many bookies, including Betfred and Tote offer bonuses to either boost your winnings should you only get one winner (as a consolation) or as an extra payout should you land all legs of your bet.
Full Cover (Without Singles) Bets
- Trixie – 3 selections, 4 bets in total
- Yankee – 4 selections, 11 bets
- Canadian/Super Yankee – 5 selections, 26 bets
- Heinz – 6 selections, 57 bets (hence the name)
There are similar bets covering five and six selections, called Lucky 31s and Lucky 63s whilst really you could extend this system to cover just about any number of bets. Many punters prefer not to include the singles and this reduces your outlay but means you always need at least two horses to win to get anything back. These are full cover bets and some examples are listed in the box alongside – as with the bets that also include singles, these can be extended to cover six, seven or even more selections.
Other Horse Racing Bets
As said, betting on the winner of the race is by far and away the most common bet and the one that many racing punters will stick to their entire life. Betting on accumulators, combination bets and each way are nice ways to mix things up but for the more adventurous punter – or for the eagle-eyed who think they have spotted some value, there are a good number of other bets you can place in horse racing. Here we take a look at some of the best and give a brief explanation of how they work.
- Place – rather than back a horse each way, involving two stakes, with one on the horse to win, you can back it JUST to place
- Straight Forecast – On bet on the horses that will win and finish second, in the right order, in a race
- Reverse Forecast – A bet on the two in any order, although effectively it is two forecast bets so the stake is doubled
- Combination Forecast – Select three or more horses to predict the top two in any order
- Tricast – Predict the top three in a race in the correct order. Also available in reverse and combination format
- Ante Post – An ante post bet is one made in advance of an event, before the entries have been finalised. You get longer odds but if your horse doesn’t race you won’t normally get your money back
- Specials – Bookies will offer any number of specials, such as who will win the most races at Cheltenham, who will be Champion Jockey or if the winning horse will be Irish or British being just a few examples