Sometimes, horse racing punters feel they have such a good read on a race that they can predict who will finish first AND second.
For other punters seeking to enhance their fun, betting on the 1-2 adds additional intrigue – not to mention a bigger payout than simply attempting to back the winner.
There are three different bet types you can explore in this way, and they are outlined in more detail below.
What is a Forecast Bet?
A forecast is as easy to explain as it gets: you simply have to guess which horses will finish first and second in a race.
Note that you have to get them in the right order to score the win on your betslip, so it’s a stringent bet type that can yield a nice return if you’re bang on the money.
If you’d rather have a bit more of a safety net, you can try your hand with a reverse forecast – this gives you the freedom of guessing the 1-2 but in either order, so you’ll win whichever of your picks finishes first and which second.
What is an Exacta Bet?
Taken from the word exactly (probably), an exacta bet has some pretty easy rules to follow.
Again, you have to guess the 1-2 in the correct order, so it’s the same punt as the straight forecast outlined above.
But the difference here is that an exacta is offered by the Tote, the pool betting platform that has enjoyed a marked renaissance in recent times.
How are Forecast/Exacta Bets Calculated?
The manner in which forecast bets are calculated is a little different to traditional fixed odds betting.
Many bookmaking firms use the Computer Straight Forecast (CSF) formula to work out the odds for your selection. This is a fairly complex calculation that uses the SP, the number of runners and other factors to determine the fair price for your pair of picks.
The CSF calculation was first introduced in the 1970s, apparently, and its exact inputs are still a closely-guarded secret in bookmaking to this day.
The Tote’s exacta bet is calculated along the same lines, although your payout is not known until after the race – that is a result of the odds taken, the amount of money in the pool and so on.
Forecast vs Exacta: Which is Best?
If we define ‘best’ as the highest paying of the two similar bet types, then we can take a dive into some real-world examples to get us started.
Here’s the result card from the 2022 Cheltenham Gold Cup. We’ve opted for the Racing Post result as this clearly displays the different returns for the forecast (CSF) and exacta (Ex) as shown below:
As you can see, the bookies bashed the Tote on this occasion with a differential of £7.85 to a £2 stake.
We can examine how the two different bets paid out on the Flat too – here’s a look at the 2022 King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes:
- 1st – Pyledriver (18/1)
- 2nd – Torquator Tasso (16/1)
- CSF = £216.35, Ex = £120.50
If you had the foresight/luck to back this pair, congratulations. An 18/1 winner and 16/1 runner-up is typically good news for the bookies, with the more heavily-backed favourites finishing nowhere. The only downside for the books is that they had to fork out more for winning forecast punts – £95.85 more, compared to the Tote’s offering.
But what about ‘non majors’ races? What is the most profitable way to wager at humdrum meetings – forecast or exacta? Here’s a conditional jockeys handicap hurdle at Bangor-on-Dee in July 2022:
- 1st – Fine By Me (11/4)
- 2nd – Bird On the Wire (13/8)
- CSF = £7.55, Ex = £7.50
As you can see, the gap between the forecast and exacta payouts was a lot closer here, but even so it was the CSF that still nipped out on top.
This is just a small sample size, of course, so it would be foolish to think that a forecast pays out more than an exacta every time. That said, there tends to be lower liquidity in the Tote pools for run-of-the-mill racing, and that is something to be considered.
If you are to try your luck with forecast betting, remember that the SP will determine the odds your picks will pay out at – there is still plenty of value to be had in shopping around for the best odds on the market.