Horse racing is one of the oldest and most fun sports known to man. Before cars, we rode and raced horses and today we are still racing them however for different reasons. In Britain, horse racing is one of the most popular events to place a bet on. The biggest race in the calendar is called the Grand National and is considered the greatest steeplechase in the world. The first Grand National horse race was run back 1839 which gives you a good idea how old horse race betting is.
On a daily basis in the UK more bets are placed on horses then on any other sporting event. Across the country are betting stores (also known as bookies a.k.a bookmaker booking shops) and betting websites. The country loves betting on horses, and this passion is beginning to expand around the world.
If you have never placed a horse racing bet before, then there are a few things you need to know first. In the UK (and many countries in Europe/USA) you need to be over 18 years old before you can place your first bet, this is the law.
The first thing you need to do is pick a horse to bet on. How you pick your horse is important, and in most cases you shouldn’t just pick the horse because you like its name. While it’s true that there is an element of luck in horse racing, not every horse is neither equal, nor is every jockey or track and some conditions favour different horses. It’s essential therefore that you do some research before placing your bet.
Unless you are betting in the popular large steeplechases like the Grand National (UK) or Kentucky Derby (US) then most horse races will have a clear favourite and a least favourite (also known as the outsider). So how do you know which is the favourite? To do this the bookmakers use something calls odds.
Odds are a betting term which is used to determine the chances of a horse winning. The shorter the odds, the better the chance however the lower money you can win. In most horse races the favourite will normally have odds of around 5-1 onwards although they can change either side depending on race and competition. What does that mean? Basically if you bet £1 on this horse, you will win £7 (£6 win and your £1 stake returned). The outsider in the same race may be 25-1. This would be considered a risky bet for you to place as the bookmakers think it’s highly unlikely that it will win they will give you £25+£1 if you back that horse. Anything other 20-1 is considered a high risk unless you are betting on a large race with over 30 horses.
Odds aren’t only worked out in fractions (e.g. 6-1). Online bookmakers can also display decimals odds which are easier to work out for novices. With decimals, everything is rounded down to points which make it simpler to work out your winnings. Also most online betting sites will also provide the estimated pay-out on screen and will normally pay you within minutes of the race finishing.
Type of Bet
So you’ve picked your horse, and now you’re ready to place your bet. But first you need to decide what type of bet you want to place? Confused? Don’t be, it’s quite simple. You basically need to decide if you are betting for the horse to win the race or to place (e.g. finish 2nd, 3rd etc.).
The Win type bet is a simple one. If you are betting £10 on a horse to win that is 12/1 to win. You pay £10, and if that horse wins you win £120 (12x£10) and your £10 return = £130. If your horse doesn’t win, even if it comes 2nd then you win nothing.
If you don’t want to risk everything on a win, you can spread the risk by betting on not just the horse winning, but coming 2nd, 3rd etc. This is known as “Each Way” betting. Betting sites have their own rules on every race and will display on screen which places they will accept. Some bookmakers on some big racers may even accept 5th place as a place but always check to make sure.
So how do you place an each way bet? If you were to bet that same £10 on the same horse above, then you would split it in each way. Placing £5 on the win part like above, but the other £5 would be spread out the each way part. Therefore if your horse finishes 2nd, you would lose the Win part but will get something back off the each way part (normally a ¼ of the win odds).
Don’t worry too much if all of this seems to confusing, using an online betting website is much simple. You simply type in how much you wish to bet, select the type (win or each way) and everything is worked out on screen for you including the estimated return. This is a great way to get started in horse betting but remember to start small until you gain your experience.
Why should you bet on horses?
Betting on Horse Racing is one of the most exciting feelings in the world! Each race is exhilarating and knowing you can financially benefit from the outcome makes it much more fun. The more races that you bet on, the better your experience will become. You will soon become more confident. Most betting websites have stats which show the horse’s form including their last wins and their jockeys’ performance.
Each race is different than the last and there are some large races you should always take part in like the Grand National, Cheltenham and the Kentucky Derby in the US. When these big televised races come round the whole country gets excited and it’s easy to see why.
Remember though that sometimes luck is involved in horse racing, and every year millions of people around the world enjoy wins thanks to a lucky pick. So good luck, get set and make sure you place your bet before the race starts.