In the ‘olden days’, the process of having a bet on the horses was a simple one.
You would head down to your local betting shop, pick out your selections and place your wagers: there was nothing more to it than that.
Or, if you were visiting the track, you would have a scout around the betting floor to ensure you got the best price available on your fancies and maybe have a bit of banter with the bookie at his pitch.
These days, the world of sports betting is so much more competitive, with high street and online bookies doing battle for your custom.
This has enabled horse racing punters to get the best possible value if they are prepared to look for it, as firms decide whether they want to offer Best Odds Guaranteed (BOG) on their race markets or stick to the Starting Price (SP) principle.
These are two very different things, and if you want to ensure that you are making the most of your betting you need to know the difference between BOG and SP and where either can be used to your advantage.
What is Best Odds Guaranteed?
There is a basic concept when you place a bet: you accept that the odds on a horse may lengthen or shorten depending on a variety of factors prior to getting their starter’s orders. You can see the prices change every minute if you study the online race cards for some races.
So, the odds available on a horse at the start of a race may be better or worse than the price you took at the time of placing your bet.
Some punters find this unfair, although in truth it is simply the market letting you know whether your bet is a ‘value’ one or not.
Nevertheless, to help get customers on side, some bookies started offering the Best Odds Guaranteed promotion.
In short, this dictates that you will receive the ‘best odds’ for your bet, whether placed 48 hours in advance of the race or the ‘Starting Price’ just minutes before. This means you can take a price you are happy with long before the race begins, and if the starting price is better than the odds you took then you will get those higher odds.
It’s an act of goodwill on the part of the bookies, really, and a tool they can use to attract new customers – it’s not a scam, as some might think!
An Example of Best Odds Guaranteed
The easiest way to explain the Best Odds Guarantee offer is with a couple of examples:
In this first example, we are backing ‘Three-Legged Wonder’ in the 2:50 at Newmarket. Here, we place our bet at 11:00 in the morning.
|Odds||Returns on £10|
|Starting Price (SP)||6/1||£70|
In this example, we can see how the punter in question would have benefited from holding fire on his bet, and then pulling the trigger much closer to starter’s orders.
Later on in the same meeting, we back ‘Eternal Lame’ in the 4:00:
|Odds||Returns on £10|
|Starting Price (SP)||4/1||£50|
In this case, we would have been better off backing our fancy earlier in the day. He obviously looked good in the paddock, some rain came to soften the going and his price shortened accordingly!
To better showcase Best Odds Guaranteed, if we had taken BOG on the two bets outlined above we’d have trousered an extra £40 simply for using the promotion.
Without Best Odds Guaranteed, we’d have felt a bit daft backing Three-Legged Wonder early on when we could have held out for the SP.
What is the Starting Price (SP)?
Quite simply, the Starting Price – or the SP as it is known for short – are the odds offered by a bookmaker on a particular horse when they close their book.
The SP is typically decided by a ‘reporter’, who takes an average from all of the available prices with the bookies.
As we know, some horses’ prices can drift or ‘steam’ in right up until they take to the stalls. They could look pristine in the parade ring or be carrying themselves well, while horses that look flustered or are sweating up tend to be avoided.
Those who take the SP do so in the knowledge that they have more information at their disposal than those getting their bets on earlier in the day – however, they risk missing out on additional profits.
Should I Take Best Odds Guaranteed or the SP?
Clearly, if Best Odds Guaranteed is available then this is a stellar promotion to enjoy.
That way, you can sit back and relax, safe in the knowledge that you will be paid out at the best possible price regardless of when that was available.
If you operate on an exclusively SP basis, you may miss out on the value that exists in the market – particularly if you are a ‘sharp’ punter who continually backs horses that shorten in price.
In short, if BOG is available you’d be a fool not to take it.
What are the Rules Regarding Best Odds Guaranteed?
Each of the major bookies has their own unique rules when it comes to Best Odds Guaranteed, so for specifics you are best served giving their terms & conditions a read.
But here are some common themes:
- Typically, international racing is not subject to BOG, so you’ll have to take an early price or hope that the SP is agreeable.
- You have to be aware of the role of ante-post betting: Best Odds Guaranteed does NOT apply here. The price you take in an ante-post market is the price you will be paid out on.
- Accumulators, tote bets, and special offers are also usually exempt from BOG.
Which Bookies Offer Best Odds Guaranteed?
Best Odds Guaranteed is such a useful tool for punters, and one that many actively seek out in their betting, that it has unsurprisingly become par for the course at most major bookies.
In fact, any bookie not offering BOG is probably not really a great option for horse racing and may have their focus elsewhere.
Pretty much all the big names have Best Odds Guaranteed, but it is still worth checking prior to signing up with a new sportsbook, because in the odd instance that it isn’t, you could be chucking plenty of cash down the drain.