How to bet on horse racing

10 Sep 2021
Phil Lowe 10 Sep 2021
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  • Types of bets
  • Single/Win only
  • Place only
  • Each Way
  • Straight Forecast
  • Tricast
  • Accumulators/ Multiple bets
  • Lay betting
  • Special bets
  • Where to bet
  • Horse racing betting strategy
  • More Horse Racing Betting Tips and Guides

How to bet on horse racing

Horse racing and gambling are synonymous with one another and any gambler worth their salt will almost definitely know their way around a race track.

For those not acquainted with the sport though, betting on horses can seem like a daunting prospect. The large markets and the wide range of variables and the gambler’s lingo can all seem very intimidating, but fear not, the below guide on how to get started betting on horses should have you lining your pockets in no time.

Horse racing schedule

Horse racing is one of the most popular sports to gamble on in the world and a big reason for that is the sheer number of races that are available to bet on every single day.

On any given day there will be races in the UK available to bet on, and even outside of racing hours there will probably be other races taking place somewhere else in the world.

A lot of the major bookmakers will now also run virtual races for you to bet on throughout the day as well.

Types of bets

Single/Win only

The most straight forward type of bet, especially for beginners. This involves simply picking the horse you believe will win and placing that bet.

Place only

A place only bet is a bet on your horse to place, which means you will be betting on your horse to finish in the top 2, 3 or 4 of a race to win your money.

These bets are rarely placed on their own and are often only worth putting on in a race with eight or more runners.

Each Way

One of the most common bets placed in horse racing, an each way bet is effectively two separate bets- one for your horse to win the race, and another for your horse to place.

In many ways, these bets can often act as an insurance policy for the customer, with you guaranteeing yourself some money providing your horse finishes in the top 3 or 4. Again, though, this will depend on how many runners are in the race as to what placement will the bookies will offer.
Just remember that whatever stake you place on an each way bet will be doubled when it comes to paying up.

Straight Forecast

A straight forecast bet, also known as an exacta or a perfecta is a bet where you choose will horses will finish first and second, in the correct order.

These bets can be incredibly difficult to get right, but they can prove to be very lucrative if you are feeling brave enough to have a flutter on one.


A tricast is the same as a straight forecast, only this time, you have to choose which horses will finish first, second, and third, and get them in the correct order.

Needless to say, this type of bet can be very rewarding but is also extremely difficult to win.

Accumulators/ Multiple bets

Multiple bets can come in a variety of different forms. They are, as their name might suggest when you place a bet on more than one event and then require all of those results to come in for your bet to win.

You may hear various different names for these types of bets. A bet on 2 races is known as a double, one of three is a treble, while one in four or above is an accumulator, or an ‘acca’. They may also be referred to as a four-fold, five-fold and so on, depending on the numbers of selections.

Lay betting

Lay betting has become incredibly popular among horse racing enthusiasts in recent years but is not necessarily advisable for those who are new to the market.

Lay betting is when you use a betting exchange site to bet against a horse winning or being placed. This can prove incredibly lucrative if the customers have a very good knowledge of the sport. These often require quite a high risk for their pay-out though.

Special bets

The horse racing market is one of the fastest moving in the industry, and as such, bookmakers are constantly offering special types of bets and sign up bonuses.

All of the major online bookmakers will also offer daily special bets which can range from enhanced multiples or markets such as: which race will be settled by the biggest distance, how many favourites will win, and how races will compare with one another.

Where to bet

You will absolutely no trouble finding a bookmaker offering odds on horse racing, which means the only dilemma you have is which one to choose.

Due to the popularity of horse racing, most bookmakers will offer very generous sign-up bonuses, while plenty of them will also offer daily deals and enhanced odds on certain races.

Almost all of the major bookmakers will now stream the races live through their websites and mobile apps, meaning that you can keep up to the date with the races as they happen.

If you need help deciding which bookmakers to use, or to find out how to take advantage of any offers made available by the bookies then please check out our bookmakers reviews and our guides to claiming bonus and sign-up offers at the top of the page.

Horse racing betting strategy

Getting started on betting on horse racing can be a very scary prospect, and one of the big reasons for that is the sheer number of different ways a customer can approach doing it.

Like most sports though, the reality of betting on horses is that if you put the research in beforehand, then there is a strong chance you will walk away with some cash in your back pocket.

Studying form and becoming well acquainted with the different tracks and types of races is a nice place to start while keeping up to date with the major pundits and their picks will also prove very useful.

A lot of experienced gamblers will be more selective with the types of bets they put on as well, with a lot of experts avoiding single bets and opting for each-way bets or lay bets.

More advanced gamblers may even keep spreadsheets to monitor form and also to make note of their own profits.

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