It is one of the oldest pastimes in recorded history – having a flutter on the horses actually dates back more than a century.
The industry shows no signs of slowing down either; more than £7 billion was made in the past year alone, and you never seem to hear about bookmakers going bankrupt, do you?
Happily, there are plenty of success stories of punters getting rich through horse racing betting too, and even if you place a wager or two simply for the enjoyment of it or to add extra excitement to a racecard, it pays to the know the basics.
So here’s a guide to horse racing bet types, including when and where it is best to use each one.
Win, Place and Each Way
The most simple types of bet.
Simply pick out a horse you think will win, or at least finish in the ‘places’, i.e. the number of finishers that a bookmaker will pay out on, to return some winnings.
If you are new to betting on horses then this is the place to start. You can even play around with penny bets to get the hang of it before moving up as you get more comfortable.
Many punters enjoy betting solely on the win market, but obviously, this comes with plenty of risk as it really is first or worst here. But the rewards are obvious when backing a winner outright, so if you are confident in a particular selection and have done your research then don’t be afraid to wager on that horse to win; you’ve got to be in it to win it after all.
If you prefer to minimise your risk somewhat then betting on a place finish will perhaps be more up your street. Here, all you need is for your chosen horse to finish within the predetermined number of finishers. If it wins then happy days, but even if it finishes in the top two, three or four (as outlined in the specific bookmakers’ notes on the racecard) then you will be paid a prize as described. This is usually a proportionate amount of the ‘win’ odds.
Each Way Bet
There is a third horse racing bet type, and it combines principles from both the win and place bets. Here, you will place stakes of equal amounts on your horse to win or finish in the places, hence the name ‘each way’.
If your horse wins as part of an each way bet, then you are paid at the odds prescribed. If your horse places, then you will be paid out at the proportionate figure outlined on the racecard. The image above is quite a helpful example, but sometimes you might just get something that looks like this:
E/W 1/4 1-2-3
That may look confusing but it is easy enough to read when you know how. The E/W abbreviation simply means each way, so that you know this is an each way bet. The 1/4 part refers to the fraction of the odds you will be paid at should your horse finishes in the requisite places, so in this example, we would be paid at 2/1 for an 8/1 selection should it finish in the top three (but not win) because 2/1 is 1/4 of 8/1. The final bit of the line above, the 1-2-3, refers to the number of places that are being paid, so in this example, the top three runners will earn a prize for their backers.
Remember, all of the above can bet on single races or on multiples, where the potential odds are far greater (your prices are multiplied together to create a higher payout) but, of course, your risk is greater too as you need each selection to be successful in order for your accumulator to be a winner. This game is all about risk and reward.
There are specific types of multiple bet that enable you to enhance your winnings while minimising your risk, and these are called ‘cover bets’ and we will go over them later in this article.
Forecasts & Tricasts
Forecasting takes horse racing betting to the next level and requires fantastic insight and a little bit of luck to reap rewards for punters. However, if you can forecast correctly, the rewards are obvious. That’s because you are looking to predict the order of the first two (Forecast) or three (Tricast) horses home. The prices available for doing so are lucrative, to say the least.
Forecasting requires you to name the two horses that will finish as winner and runner-up in a specific race, and to get them the right way around. That is a Straight Forecast. A Reversed Forecast similarly allows you to back a pair of horses for the two top spots but they can finish in either order – although a double stake is required.
Here is an example of a Straight Forecast and the potential profit on offer:
We back the favourite at 11/8 to finish first, and a 7/1 shot as our second place horse. Should this come in, we would return £12 from a £1 stake – nice. That more than doubles the return on offer for placing a £1 on the favourite to win (£2.37) or a quid on the 7/1 shot each way (£5.67 maximum return). Of course, our risk is significant, but at the odds available forecasting is a low stakes method of potentially winning decent sums of money.
If you sit closer to the right-hand side of the risk-reward continuum, then you will love the potential rewards on offer from a successful Tricast. Obviously the risk is high – these are low success rate bets – but theoretically, you only need 1 in 40, roughly, to come in to ensure a profit.
As stated above, a Tricast requires us to predict the top three in the correct order e.g. 1st – Three Legged Mule, 2nd – Cannon Fodder, 3rd – Pedigree Chum. If any of these finish in a different order, or outside of the top three altogether, then our wager is unsuccessful.
Here is a guide to the riches on offer: 1st – Three Legged Mule (11/8), 2nd – Cannon Fodder (7/1), 3rd – Pedigree Chum (6/1) = £1 stake returns £49.
Full Cover Bets
If you’ve had a look at a racecard and more than one strong-looking fancy are featured on the day, then you can always place a multiple bet – or an accumulator as they are known in betting parlance – to further enhance any winnings that may be forthcoming.
Another option, for those who like to keep their risk to a minimum, is to place a ‘cover bet’. As the name suggests, should one or more of your selections come in then you are almost guaranteed to cover your initial outlay; meaning you will break even at the very least.
There are a number of different types of cover bet, as we will explain below:
If you pick out three selections on a racecard then there are four possible combinations of multiples that can occur: Horse A & Horse B can win (one double), Horse A & C (second double) or Horse B & C can prosper (third double). On a really good day, all three horses could win (treble).
So punters are required to place 4 individual bets in a Trixie to cover all outcomes, and it is worth noting that mathematically speaking only two selections need to come in for an overall return.
In a similar vein to a Trixie, a Yankee provides cover when betting on four selections. There are eleven possible outcomes – six doubles, four trebles and a quadruple – so 11 bets are required.
Again, if two selections do the business then you are assured a profit.
Super Yankee (Or Canadian)
A Super Yankee takes the standard four-fold to the next level with five selections. As a consequence, 26 bets are required to cover each possible result: ten doubles, ten trebles, five quadruples and a quintuple.
The good news is that despite upping our outlay, we still only need two selections to come up trumps to ensure a return.
You have probably got a handle on the theme that is developing here, and yes a Heinz is the cover bet that features six selections. It requires 57 individual wagers, so have a decent bankroll ready, and potential combinations include 15 doubles, 20 trebles, 15 quadruples, 6 quintuples and one six-fold, or a sextuple as it would be commonly known.
We still only require a minimum of two selections to ensure a return; a handy success rate of just 33%.
Seven selections; 120 bets. Winning combinations include 21 doubles, 35 trebles, 35 quadruples, 21 quintuples, 7 sextuples and one seven-fold, or a septuplet if you want to be precise. That’s how we roll with a Super Heinz.
The last of the full cover bets is the Goliath, which as the name suggests is a rather hefty affair. Eight selections are covered by a whopping 247 bets, with 28 doubles, 56 trebles, 70 quadruples, 56 quintuples, 28 sextuples, 8 septuples and one octuple all up for grabs!
Clearly the more selections we add into the mix the greater our financial outlay, tempered by a higher chance of accumulating a decent return.
Cover Bets (Including Singles)
All of the cover bets we have discussed above have been predicated on multiple bets – your doubles, trebles, quadruples etc. But of course, that doesn’t consider single bets too, and this is where the second helping of ‘cover bets’ comes in handy.
Below is a table that sums up the four key types of cover bet that feature singles:
|NAME||NO. OF SELECTIONS||NO. OF BETS||POSS. OUTCOMES|
|Patent||Three||7||3 x Singles, 3 x Doubles, 1 x Treble|
|Lucky 15||Four||15||4 x S, 6 x D, 4 x T, 1x Q|
|Lucky 31||Five||31||5 x S, 10 x D, 10 x T, 5 x Quad, 1 x Quint|
|Lucky 63||Six||63||6 x S, 15 x D, 20 x T, 15 x Qua, 6 x Qui, 1 x Sext|
The principles are the same: a number of selections are made and the requisite number of bets covered by the punter’s staking plan. The beauty of this category of wagers is that we only need one winning selection to ensure a return of some kind on our investment.
If you are looking for a slightly different way in which to place your bets, then the totepool or ‘parimutual betting’ might be for you.
For a long time, the Tote was the only UK bookmaker that was allowed to offer Parimutual betting domestically, and this essentially is non -fixed odds wagering. Your prices and payouts are calculated using the total amount wagered on a particular race and the number of people that backed the winning horse. The maths is pretty simple: total amount wagered / number of winning betslips = your return (after the operators have taken their profit share, of course).
The point of Totepool betting is that on occasion you will pick up significantly more money for choosing a winner than you would with a traditional bookmaker, although given the calculation outlined above you can understand why this wouldn’t always be the case.
And this is perhaps the rub with totepool betting; you can never know what your return will be until the money is handed to you. At least with the bookmakers you can calculate your return, whether you bet on an ante post market or at the Starting Price (SP). With totepool, you are essentially always betting at the SP.
Totepool Bet Types
Happily, all of the most popular wager types are accepted by the Tote. Punters can place win bets, place bets, multiples, forecasts and much more, although the real appeal comes from the huge jackpot prizes that are available.
The Tote Jackpot, for instance, requires you to pick out the first six winners at a selected meeting. That’s no easy task of course, but the rewards are obvious – for just a £1 stake you could net tens of thousands of pounds. Each week that the jackpot isn’t won it rolls over to the next, like the National Lottery, and in a similar way the kitty increases over time.
The Tote Scoop6, meanwhile, is an absolute standout feature on the betting circuit every Saturday. Each week six races are nominated – these are usually those that are televised – and again the task is to pick six winners. But if you pick six horses that place, then you will receive a consolatory payment from the ‘Place Fund’.
If you do manage to pick out a magic half dozen winners in the Scoop6, then you will be added to the running for the bonus kitty the following week. Pick out a winner in the selected renewal and you could win a huge payout – the biggest win in the competition’s history is a rather cool £1.3 million, and the winning punter could have netted more than £5 million if they had correctly picked the winner of the bonus race a week later.