Horse Racing Betting Types

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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.

Working out which horses will win individual races is hard enough, but it is only part of the puzzle. The next question is: what type of bet should I place?

If you have just one selection it is pretty self explanatory. A win or each-way single are your only options in Britain, while you can also punt place or show in the US.

But when you have multiple selections, things become a hell of a lot tougher. Your choice could be the difference between a major payout or nothing at all.

Listed below are a number of bet types, what they mean and when they are most applicable. Make sure you choose wisely!

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 most common type of bet. A win single is one solitary bet placed on a selection in the hope that they will win the event.

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

An each-way single is a bet placed on a horse to finish in the places. If the each-way terms are first three in the race, as long as your runner finishes in one of those positions you will get a payout. The unit stake will be doubled to account for the each-way possibility.

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

A place bet is a wager put on a selection to finish second or third in a race, not to win.

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.

Favourites to win

You bet on the number of winning favourites at a particular meeting. Alternative terms could mean that you bet on the amount of points (allocated to each finishing position) favourites will accumulate over the course of the fixture.

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.

Double

One bet placed on the outcome of two different results. Both selections have to win for the bet to be successful.

Treble

One bet placed on the outcome of three different results. Every selection has to win for the bet to be successful.

Accumulator

One bet placed on the outcome of four or more different results. Every selection has to win for the bet to be successful.

Trixie

One bet that comprises three selections and four separate bets – three doubles and a treble. Two or more selections have to win to get a return. A £1 Trixie would cost you £4.

Patent

One bet that comprises three selections and seven separate bets – three singles, three doubles and a treble. One or more selections have to win to get a return. A £1 Patent would cost you £7.

Yankee

One bet that comprises four selections and 11 separate bets – six doubles, four trebles and an accumulator. Two or more selections have to win to get a return. A £1 Yankee would cost you £11.

Canadian Bet/Super Yankee

One bet that comprises five selections and 26 separate bets – ten doubles, ten trebles, five four-folds and an accumulator. Two or more selections have to win to get a return. A £1 Canadian/Super Yankee would cost you £26.

Lucky 15

One bet that comprises four selections and 15 separate bets – four singles, six doubles, four trebles and an accumulator. One or more selections have to win to get a return. A £1 Lucky 15 would cost you £15.

Lucky 31

One bet that comprises five selections and 31 separate bets – five singles, ten doubles, ten trebles, five four-folds and an accumulator. One or more selections have to win to get a return. A £1 Lucky 31 would cost you £31.

Lucky 63

One bet that comprises six selections and 63 separate bets – six singles, 15 doubles, 20 trebles, 15 four-folds, five five-folds and an accumulator. One or more selections have to win to get a return. A £1 Lucky 63 would cost you £63.

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.

Special Bets

Rule 4

An amount deducted per £1 of your stake due to a non-runner or withdrawn horse in the race after your bet was placed, which helps reform the market. For example, if the 5-4 favourite gets withdrawn, there will be a 40p Rule 4.

Trainer/Jockey Specials

A bet placed on how many points (allocated to each finishing position) a jockey or trainer will achieve. These are normally available when the jockey or trainer has a good chance of recording multiple winners.

Distance Betting

A bet placed on the winning distances of an individual race or the aggregate winning margins over the course of a fixture.

Request-a-bet

A bet that is not already offered by the bookmaker but is requested by a punter. The bookmaker will then price it up accordingly and add it to their website.

Trifecta & Superfecta

A Trifecta is where you try to get the first three horses in the right order in one race. A Superfecta is the same but with the first four home.

Exacta

An Exacta is where you try to get the first two horses in the right order in one race.

First past the post

First past the post is when bookmakers pay out on the initial winner, even if they are subsequently demoted after a stewards’ inquiry.

Survivor Bet (Survivor 6)

A unique bet at Ascot racecourse, a Survivor bet requires a punter to get the winner of the first six races on the card. This applies to every Ascot meeting.

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.

Placepot

A popular bet where punters have to select a horse to finish in the places in each of the first six races. All stakes are put into a pool and the returns can be huge if there are shock results throughout.

Jackpot

Similar to the Placepot but instead of finding horses to finish in the places in the first six races, you need to find the winners of each race.

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.

What is the safest bet in horse racing?

The safest bet is an each-way single. You rely on just one selection and they can finish in the first three, four or five positions depending on the terms.

What is a four horse bet called?

You can place multiple different bets for four horses. A Lucky 15 is probably the most common, but you can also place an accumulator and Yankee.

What is a five horse bet called?

You can place multiple different bets for five horses. A Lucky 31 is probably the most common, but you can also place an accumulator and Super Yankee.

What is a seven horse bet called?

You can place a few different bets for seven horses, including doubles, trebles, four-folds and Union Jack Patents.

What is the best way to bet on horses?

Using your knowledge to work out the winning selections, then going to a betting firm and placing your wager.

What is the best post position in horse racing?

The best post position/stall in horse racing depends on the track, but the most commonly advantageous post position is gate one.

What is the best bet to make in horse racing?

A winning one!

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