There are some hardy punters out there that enjoy betting in a way that is very difficult to pull off – wagering on the three horses they believe will finish first, second and third in a race.
Horse racing is an unpredictable sport at the best of times, and so to perfectly land the 1-2-3 – even in renewals where three horses are well fancied by the market – takes some doing.
But, when you consider the payouts that are available on the rare occasions that the leading trio is selected correctly, you can see why some punters enjoy trying their luck in this way.
If this sounds like something you might be interested in, there are two ways in which you can bet on the 1-2-3: with a tricast or a trifecta bet.
What is a Tricast Bet?
A tricast is a bet on the 1-2-3 that is available with the absolute vast majority of bookmakers.
The traditional tricast requires you to pick the first three horses home in the correct order, while a combination tricast offers a bit more wriggle-room in that you need to select the top three but they can finish in any order.
Some bookmakers will offer you a fixed odds return on your tricast, whereas others use a computer-aided calculation that factors in SP and other variables.
It’s easy to place a tricast bet – simply navigate to the relevant heading on your chosen betting site/app, or alternatively add three selections to your betslip and then choose the tricast option where available.
In this example, we’ve picked out three selections at odds of 4/6, 4/1 and 8/1 – combined, they would yield a straight tricast return of 10.73/1.
What is a Trifecta Bet?
A trifecta bet is, in essence, exactly the same as a tricast – you are looking to back the first three horses home in a given race.
But the difference here is that you are betting at Tote odds, rather than those offered by your bookmaker.
There are three types of trifecta: straight (1-2-3 in the correct order), combination (1-2-3 in any order) and banker (you must back the winner, and then 2-3 can be in either order).
Some punters are put off trifecta betting because they don’t know a great deal about the Tote or they prefer to use their normal betting site/app. However, the good news is that more and more firms are offering trifecta odds via their sportsbook, so you can try your luck without needing to specifically place your bets with the Tote.
Tricast vs Trifecta: Which is Best?
In this context, we define ‘best’ as the option which will ultimately leave us with the greater amount of winnings in the long run from the same results.
The issue, and also the charm, of the Tote’s pool betting is that liquidity tends to be linked to the prestige of the race in question. The major Group or Grade 1 outings, and especially those on terrestrial television, generally drive much more cash into the pool – a humdrum meeting on a rainy Tuesday at Ayr less so.
So, we can compare the tricast and trifecta payouts for three different types of race – a major over fences, a major on the flat and a run-of-the-mill outing at Ayr – to see which of the 1-2-3 options pays the best.
First, here’s the payouts for the 2022 Grand National:
- 1st – Noble Yeats (50/1)
- 2nd – Any Second Now (15/2)
- 3rd – Delta Work (10/1)
- Tricast – £4,148
- Trifecta – £23,798
Thanks to the larger liquidity pool at the Tote for the Grand National, and the fact that a 50/1 outsider romped home in first place, both the tricast and trifecta payouts were nice and juicy – although, as you can see, the trifecta paid out at around six times higher than the tricast.
Now, let’s examine the returns from the 2022 Epsom Derby:
- 1st – Desert Crown (5/2)
- 2nd – Hoo Ya Mal (150/1)
- 3rd – Westover (25/1)
- Tricast – £7,575
- Trifecta – £5,120
Although both bet types served up a handsome payout for the Derby, this time it was the tricast that brought home the most bacon – a cool £7,575 thanks to 150/1 outsider Hoo Ya Mal romping home in second place.
Finally, let’s take a look at a standard race in August 22 at Ayr, in a renewal where there were no long-shots inflating the payout:
- 1st – Ayr Poet (5/2)
- 2nd – Russian Virtue (6/1)
- 3rd – Give Grace (7/1)
- Tricast – £91.87
- Trifecta – £90.30
The returns were a little more sedate here, although backers still would have copped a 90/1 payout if they correctly backed the 1-2-3.
Again, there’s very little to choose between the tricast and trifecta payout, but the takeaway point is that for standard races it is typically the tricast that is the best-paying option. Your trifecta wagering should be reserved for major races where the liquidity pool is generally greater in size.