Horse Racing Betting Types

Last Updated 8 Jan 2020 | Commercial content | 18+

There is a number of established horse racing betting types in the UK. Football is by far the most popular betting sport with online bookmakers. However, most UK-facing firms provide a comprehensive horse racing service. The range of bets replicates the betting options in betting shops. Online bettors can select the odds format and the most popular choices are fractional, decimal and American. We will use fractional odds.

What Are the Main Horse Racing Betting Types?

Horse racing bettors are conservative in their choice of horse racing betting types. The most popular bets have been in existence since UK betting offices were legalised in 1961. Online betting attracts a younger breed of the customer but new bettors still place the old-established horse racing betting types.

Fractional odds are not the best format for calculating bets but the odds and horse racing betting types are now familiar to experienced and the modern type of bettor. This article examines the range of horse racing betting types and we begin with the most basic which are single line bets.

Win Betting

The Starting Price (SP) mechanism is intrinsic to betting on horse racing in the UK. It is the average price for a horse with on-course bookmakers just before the race begins. The SP for each horse is relayed to off-course bookmakers who settle bets accordingly.

Betting exchanges now influence the on-course markets and the SP is driven by firms like Betfair. They allow customers to place and accept bets on horse racing in the UK and Ireland and other parts of the world.

A win bet is a bet on a horse to finish first in a race. Some bookmakers pay first past the post and on the amended result. There are occasions when a horse is disqualified from the first place and the runner-up is declared the winner for betting purposes.

However, this is rare and in most cases, the horse that crosses the line in front of the rest of the field is the winner for bet settlement. Bets are settled at the full SP for the purposes of a winning bet.

If two or more horses cannot be separated by the judge, dead heat is declared and dead-heat rules apply. A horse could be withdrawn just before the start of a race. If bookmakers do not have time to create a new market, adjustments are made to the odds to compensate for a horse not running.

There is a sliding scale of % adjustments based on the price of the horse when it was taken out of the race. In the rules of racing, these are known as Rule 4 Deductions.

Odds Format

Fractional odds as the name suggests express odds in fractions. The range of fractional odds dates back to the start of on-course betting on racecourses in the UK. There are two numbers in fractional odds which are separated by a dash (-) or oblique (/). Horse racing betting types are settled in the same way when odds are shown in fractions. An alternative is decimal odds which shoe the betting in decimals. An SP of 5/1 in fractions equates to 6.0 in decimals which include the stake unit.

Here are some examples of win bet calculations in fractional odds:

  • £100 win at 1/2 returns £150 made up of the stake (£100) and profit (£50).
  • £50 win at Evens returns £100 made up of the stake (£50) and profit (£50).
  • £20 win at 5/1 returns £120 made up of the stake (£20) and profit (£100).
  • £10 win at 10/1 returns £110 made up of the stake (£10) and profit (£100).

The SP of a horse can be odds-on, Evens or odds-against. An SP at odds-on suggests a greater probability of a horse winning than one at odd-against. Even money is the mid-point and a winning bets at these odds returns double the stake.

The range of fractional odds for horses in the UK is generally about 1/3 to 50/1. There are exceptions but this range covers most horses in a British race.

Each Way Betting

The each-way horse racing betting types are two bets: a win bet and a place bet. The place element is settled at a proportion of the win element. Bookmakers settle each-way bets for a set number of places depending on the type of bet and the number of runners. There are industry-standard place terms in the UK betting industry. Here are the place terms for each category:

  • Less than 5 runners in a handicap and non-handicap: win only.
  • 5-7 runners in a handicap and non-handicap: one quarter the odds for 2 places.
  • 8 runners or more in a handicap and a non-handicap: one fifth the odds for 3 places.
  • 12-15 runners in a handicap: one quarter the odds for 3 places.
  • 16 or more runners in a handicap: one quarter the odds for 4 places.

 If the SP of the favourite is odds-on, some bookmakers settle place bets at one-sixth the win odds, However, this is an outdated practice and most bets are now settled at one fifth the win odds.  Here are some examples of each way betting calculations: 

Calculation

£20 each way at 5/1 in a race with 8 runners and the horse wins:

  • Stake = £40.
  • Win Profit = £100.
  • Place Profit = £20.

Return = £160 made up of the total stake (£40) and profit (£120).

£20 each way at 5/1 in a race with 8 runners and the horse finishes third:

  • Stake = £40.
  • Win-Loss = £20.
  • Place Profit = £20.

Return = £40 made up of the place stake (£20) and profit (£20).

£10 each way at 20/1 in a handicap with 16 runners and the horse wins:

  • Stake = £20.
  • Win Profit = £200.
  • Place Profit = £50.

Return = £270 made up of the stake (£20) and profit (£250).

£10 each way at 20/1 in a handicap with 16 runners and the horse finishes fourth:

  • Stake = £20.
  • Win-Loss = £10.
  • Place Profit = £50.

Return = £60 made up of the place stake (£10) and profit (£50).

As these calculations illustrate the return is reduced significantly if a horse is placed but does not win a race. There is an argument for placing win bets on two horses rather than an each-way bet on one horse. Any each-way bet at an SP of 5/1 and less will not be profitable even if the backed horse makes the payout places. Each-way betting comes into its own on big-priced outsides.

Place Only Betting

Place only betting is one of the rarer horse racing betting types on offer with UK bookmakers. This type of bet is more common on a betting exchange. Place only betting is one bet which wins if the backed horse wins a race or finishes in the payout places.

Place only bets are settled in line with the industry-standard place terms listed above. Bettors are more likely to make a place only bet on a big-priced outside rather than one of the favourites. If the horse wins the race, the bettors do not have a successful win bet because only the places are covered.

Horse Betting Types

What Are Forecasts and Tricasts?

One of the other popular horse racing betting types involves predicting the horses to finish in the first two or first three. A forecast is on two horses and can be a straight forecast or reverse forecast. The distinction is betting on the horses to finish first and second in the correct order or any order.

The tricast takes this bet further because it involves the first three horses in a race, in the correct order or any order.  Bettors can include several horses in each bet and perm the horses.

Three selections in a straight forecast (A, B and C)

The bet includes the following permutations: 

A to beat B

A to beat C

B to beat C

Three selections in a reverse forecast (A, B and C)

The bet includes the following permutations: 

A to beat B or C

A to be second to B

A to be second to C

B to beat A or C

B to be second to A

B to be second to C

C to beat A or B

C to be second to A

C to be second to C

Three selections in a tricast (A, B and C)

A winning bet has the following possible  finishing positions:

ABC

ACB

BCA

BAC

CAB

CBA

The number of potential permutations increases as more horse is added to a forecast or tricast bet. The total stake is the stake per permutation multiplied by the number of permutations.

What Are Horse Racing Accumulators or Multiples?

Other common horse racing betting types bring together a number of selections in accumulator or system bets. There are singles, doubles and trebles but any bet that includes more than three selections is one of these horse racing betting types.

Multiples include two or more selections. Accumulators and system bets are popular bets because they provide the potential for a decent win from a small stake. Accumulators are single line bets while system bets include permutations in a number of lines. Here are the most popular of these horse racing betting types

Straight Multiples

Straight multiples are accumulators that only have one line and no permutations. The odds from one winning selection are multiplied by the odds from the next winning selection and so on. Each selection must-win for a multiple to be successful. One losing selection makes the multiple a losing bet. Here is an example of the profit of a winning treble:

  • £10 treble at 2/1, 3/1 and 4/1:
  • (2 +1) multiplied by (3 +1) multiplied by (4 +1) -1 for the stake multiplied by 10 (the stake) = £590.

So, this winning multiple has combined odds of 59/1. The return is £600 made up of the stake (£10) and profit (£590). Bettors can place win and each-way multiple bets.

System Bets

System bets are multiples that bring together three or more selections in the full range of combinations or permutations. The bet can include one or more losing selection and still generate a return but not necessarily a profit. A system bet features the full coverage of potential doubles, trebles and accumulators. Some system bets also include singles.

Here are the possible combinations for the most popular system bets:

  • Trixie: 3 selections in 3 doubles and 1 treble = 4 bets.
  • Yankee: 4 selections in 4 trebles, 6 doubles and 1 accumulator = 11 bets.
  • Canadian: 5 selections in 10 doubles, 10 trebles, 5 four folds and 1 accumulator = 26 bets.
  • Heinz: 6 selections in 15 doubles, 20 trebles, 15 four-folds, 6 five-folds and 1 accumulator = 57 bets.
  • Patent: 3 selections in a Trixie plus singles = 7 bets.
  • Lucky 15: 4 selections in a Yankee plus singles = 15 bets.
  • Lucky 31: 5 selections in a Canadian plus singles = 31 bets.
  • Lucky 63: 6 selections in a Heinz plus singles = 63 bets.

Customers with UK bookmakers can place win and each-way system bets. The total stake is the stake unit multiplied by the number of system bet permutations.

How Does Totepool Betting Work?

Totepool betting is a type of pool betting whereby the returns are based on the value of bets placed into the pool and the share of bets on each horse. A win and place dividend is declared and the return is the dividend multiplied by the stake. In some cases, the win dividend is better than the SP but other times bettors get a better return from the SP.

Horse Racing Betting Types FAQ

Here are answers to some of the common questions related to the horse racing betting types that UK bookmakers offer. Take a look at our horse racing betting glossary, where we explain all the terms you need to know to place an informed bet.

What is In-play betting?

In-play betting takes place during an event and the odds are updated as the event progresses.

What is ante-post betting?

Ante-post betting provides odds for future races such as major races at the Cheltenham Festival and Royal Ascot and standalone races such as the Grand National and the Derby.

What is Best Odds Guaranteed and how do I get it?

Best Odds Guaranteed is a promise made by bookmakers to settle winning bets at the best odds and customers take an early or board price to get the guarantee.

How can I place a horse racing bet?

Visit the website of a UK-facing bookmaker and navigate to the horse racing section.

Which are the best bookmakers to bet on horse racing?

The established UK betting brands offer a comprehensive horse racing service.