Betting Guide

How to place a bet

The art of betting is as old as racing itself. Read our quick guide to help you get started.

It's always best to have a look at the horses in the parade ring or paddock before placing a bet. There are lots of online options for before-the-day betting but it's best to shop around! 

Where to bet

The Tote

There are totepool betting points throughout the racecourse. With the tote, you're not betting against a bookie; your stake goes into a pool, and like the lottery, your win depends on how many other winning tickets there are.

Fill in a form with your stake, the type of bet and your horse – minimum bet £2. 

Online

If you’re looking for the very best value, it is usually to be found online as competition for your betting pound is fierce and overheads are lower.  Some online bookies will off you a free bet, your money back if your horse falls or doesn’t run, enhanced odds or a best price guarantee.  A little bit of patience is required as the bookies will release their best offers in the days leading up to the event.  Sites like OLBG.com do the hard work for you by listing all the best bookmaker offers on one page.

Remember, never bet more than you can afford to lose.  By keeping your stakes low, you can enjoy your betting for the excitement-factor it adds to horseracing.  

Betting Tips from OLBG

The question on everyone’s lips is ‘Who’s going to win?’  You may pick your winner by its funny name or colour of the jockey’s silks but if you’re looking for more of a researched viewpoint, visit Cheltenham Festival Mares’ Sponsor, OLBG.com. Their community of expert racing tipsters have done all the research so you don’t have to. Their  horse racing tips and well-reasoned opinions are available free on their website or app. 

The bookies

The on-course bookmakers are the heart and soul of the betting experience, but they're all different and it's worth shopping around for the best odds on each race. You can usually find them in front of the grandstand or by the rails.

How to place your bet

When you make your bet, state the number of your chosen horse and the stake: 'Number 3, £5 to win'; listen to the bookmaker repeat the bet and then give them your stake. You will then be given an itemised receipt with details of the bet and any winnings due – check this carefully and tell the bookmaker if there's a mistake. 

Keep the ticket safe and if the horse wins, hand the ticket back to the bookmaker for settlement. 

Never destroy your ticket until after the 'weighed in' announcement has been made. If your horse has not won there may still be a stewards enquiry and the winner, or placed horses may be disqualified.

Betting shops

There are also standard betting shops at various locations in the grounds. They'll accept bets on the races and on any other events – useful if you also want to place simultaneous bets on races at other courses.

Types of bet

The two main types of bet are win-only and each-way. For win-only, your horse needs to win the race outright.

An each-way bet is effectively two bets – one for your horse to win and one for it to be placed (1st, 2nd or 3rd). So a £5 each-way bet will cost £10. 

Each bookmaker will display the terms on which they accept each-way bets on the top of their board.

Know your betting lingo

  • Accumulator:  bet involving two or more selections in different races – winnings from one are placed on the next.
  • Allowance: the weight concession the horse is given to compensate for its rider’s inexperience – a greener horse carries less weight.
  • Also ran: any horse not finishing 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th in a race or event.
  • Bar: a betting term that denotes that all horses not already listed in the betting market for a race are at the bar price or longer odds.
  • Each-way: a bet in two equal parts – one backing a horse to win and the other backing it to finish in the first three.
  • Evens or even money: betting odds where your stake exactly equals your winnings – £5 at evens wins a further £5.
  • Form: A horse's race record. This is denoted by figures next to its name on a racecard: 1=1st, 2=2nd etc. 0=unplaced, P=pulled up, R=refused to race, F=fell, U=unseated rider, SU=slipped up, BF=beaten favourite.
  • Odds on: odds where the winnings are less than the stake – thus a winning £2 bet at 2-1 on wins you £1.
  • On the nose: betting on a horse to win only (not to place).
  • Penalty: the extra weight carried by horse which has won since the weights for a race were originally published.
  • Placed: when a horse finishes in the first three.
  • SP/starting price: the official price (odds) of the horse at which the bets are settled in betting shops.
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