Horse Race Behind FieldHorse racing is one of the most popular sports to bet on within the online sector. It’s been around for hundreds of years and if it’s actually one of the main reasons why betting is as popular as it is today.

As with all sports that have soared in popularity, if you are new to betting on horse racing then you might get a little overwhelmed. Most bookies cover all meetings in the UK and Ireland, and they couple with this with varying amounts of races from all over the world to make a massively comprehensive marketplace of races.

We wanted to strip it down a little for you and take you back to basics, explaining how to bet on horse racing. There’s plenty of articles on site about each section that dives into greater detail, but for now, this should help you get going.

Choose Your Bookmaker

Smartphone Being Held Side View

The first place to start is to choose who you are going to bet with. There are dozens of choices, and for us to say that you have to try one bookmaker over another, is tough. The reason behind is that each punter is going to want different things from their betting experience.

As an example of this, you might need things like live streaming and the best odds, whereas others need a little more help with their bets, so an integrated racecard along with racing tips might be more suited.

To keep it simple, you’re going to get a good range of horse racing markets and prices with most of the major betting brands these days. The mechanics of each are all pretty much the same, but they vary in terms of features and how they go about promoting markets to their players.

Our recommend sites can be found here.

How Do the Odds Work?

Calculator with Stacks of Coins

The odds for horse racing work in the same way that they do with any sport. In the UK you’re more commonly going to be greeted with fractional odds, displayed at 2/1, 7/2, 9/4 and so on. Across Europe, and increasingly so in the UK, you will get decimal odds, displayed as 2.00, 5.00, 1.65 and so on.

The way the odds look is different, but the payouts are the same. For example, with fractions, you simply take the digit int the right column as the stake and the digit in the left as the return. A 5/1 bet would mean that you get 5 units back for each single unit you bet.

Decimal odds you just multiply by your stake to get your return. So, a £10 bet at odds of 5.00 would return £50. We have a more in depth look at calculating your returns here.

Choosing Your Race

BetVictor Race Selection Screenshot

The next step is start delving into the bookmaker to start to choose the bet that you want to place. Again, this might look pretty intimidating at first, but once you break it down, it should be pretty simple.

The best way to start this is by meeting. If you’re familiar with horse racing, then there might be a racecourse that you are familiar with. If so, target that to get going.

If not, or there is no racing at that track when you want to bet, it’s time to look elsewhere. You can choose whichever meeting you like, but we talk more about how to target these later in this article.

After you’ve picked your meeting, you then need to pick your race. Races run in UK from around 1:30pm to 5:30pm, although times are subject to change, especially in the winter. There’s also evening racing which is floodlit and a host of different surfaces as well.

The races will be split up by the time of day that they are going to run. To access that race just click on the time and then you will access the race card.

Using a Racecard

Betvictor Beverley RacecardThe race card is one of the most powerful tools for any horse racing punter. If you are new, then they will be a lifeline when it comes to betting on horse racing. But even experienced punters will use the race card to make their picks.

The detail of the card will vary from bookmaker to bookmaker. Some are better than others to be honest, so when you look for a bookmaker to bet with, you want to make sure they have a strong race card.

If their race card is poor, then you can work around this, but you will need to research the bets and the information from other sources, which takes more time to do.

Above you will see an example of a race card from BetVictor, who have one of the best in the business right now. We’ve spoken in depth about race cards and how they work in other articles, so we will just over the basics here.

The first thing to note with this specific one is that it’s got a link to Timeform, who are one of the biggest data providers for horse racing in the world. This valuable resource allows punters to get a look at how a race might pan out.

As you can see from the image, there is a short synopsis at the top of the page that highlights how the race might pan out based on previous results from the horses. It then dives a little deeper into each horse and their chances in the race.

If you’ve no knowledge of horse racing, then this is a great place to start!

Click here for a more detailed look at how to read a racecard for horse racing.

Placing the Bet

The actual process of placing the bet is one that is very simple. All you need to do is select the odds that you want to take for that horse and then this will be added to your bet slip.

BetVictor Horse Bet Placement

As you can see, once you have made your pick the box will turn blue. This will vary for each bookmaker that you use, but the box will be highlighted in some way to show that you’ve chosen the bet.

It’s worth noting that you’ve not placed the bet yet, merely added the selection to your bet slip.

Just before we move on to how the betslip works, you will also see couple of other markets and betting rules. The “betting W/O (without)” and the “Place betting” markets are not the same as the “win/EW” bet that we’ve included in our selection.

Also, you will be able to see the rules for the each way bet here as well. In this example it states that it’s pay out at 1/5 odds for each way bets, with top 3 places paid in the race. More on each way betting later in the article.


BetVictor Beverley Bet Placement BetslipThe betslip is going to be pretty straightforward, but the most important process to confirm your bet. As you can see, it will highlight the horse that you’ve picked – Brutaleb – and the prices that they are at, which is 4.33 in this example.

You then need to enter the stake in the box and to the right of that you will then see the returns form that bet. Above the returns you will see a box that states “EW” which you need to select if you want to place an each way bet.

At the bottom of the bet slip you need to confirm the total stake and the possible returns from your bet. Then all is left to do click the “Place Bets Now” button and your bet will be confirmed.

Tracking Your Bet

Once your bet has been places you can use your account to check on all bets that are either settled or unsettled. A settled bet is simply one that has been completed (lost or won) and an unsettled bet is one that is still live, meaning that the race still needs to be ran.

If you’ve any problems here or a bet is not showing even though you’re certain you placed it, contact customer support a soon as possible. The longer you leave it the harder it is to rectify any mistakes.

Each Way Betting

Ladbrokes Each Way Betslip Example

There’s a fair few markets that you can bet on now with horse racing and we’ve covered lots of them in other articles. But we just wanted to run a quick overview on how each way bets work for those that don’t know.

An each way bet is split up into two parts:

  • A bet to win
  • A bet to be placed

The idea is that your bet is spread out, giving a return if the horse wins the race or if they place. If a horse wins, then you will get paid for both the win and the place bet. If a horse fails to win, but still places, then you will only get the place bet.

The next thing to note is that you place a stake on the win and the place bet. When someone refers to a £10 each way bet, then their total stake would then be £20, with £10 on the win and £10 on the place.

The bookmakers will specify the terms of the payout for the place bet before each race. It will be based on the number of runners in the race and the type of race that is being run.

Let’s run through a quick example:

We place a £10 each way bet on Baashiq in the example above at odds of 10/1. The bookmaker is paying top 3 places at odds of 1/5 of the original price. We then technically have two bets here:

  • £10 on Horse 1 to win at odds of 10/1 or 11.00
  • £10 on Horse 1 to place (top 3) at 1/5 of 10/1 = 2/1 or 3.00

If Baashiq wins, we win both parts of the bet, meaning we get £110 for the win and £30 for the place.

If Baashiq, fails to win, but finishes 2nd or 3rd, then we lose the win bet, but we win the place bet, returning £30.

If Baashiq finishes in 4th or lower, then we lose both parts of the each way bet.

We have also have a full article on each way betting which goes into more detail.

Rule 4 Deductions

15 Percent Reduction 3D Numbers

This a massive rule in in the world of horse racing and one that all punters should know and be able to apply it when need be. The concept of Rule 4 has been designed to protect bookmakers when the favourites are removed from the race after the books have opened.

If this happens, then the bookies will now be paying odds for horses that were priced based on one or more horses being better than them. For example, if you have a race where the favourite was priced at 1/2 to win and second favourite priced at 5/1. If that favourite withdraws, then the 5/1 priced horse is now massively overpriced and unfairly so.

Rule 4 would then be applied, which would then mean that you get a reduction in any winnings. The reduction is based on the odds of the horse withdrawn from the race and then applied as a pence to the pound ratio.

Basic Rules to Follow

Helpful Tips Post It Notes

We don’t want to turn this into a strategy article as such, given that the goal is to show you how to bet on horse racing. But there are a few points that we do want to include. It’s worth noting that the majority of things here we go into great detail with across the site, so feel free to check out those articles if you need a little more info.

Pick a Format

The first that we would say is that you need to pick a type of racing and stick with it. At least to start, anyway.

There is a lot of racing that takes place all over the world. You’ve got jumps, flats, national hunt racing, steeplechase, all weather, turf, sand and so much more.

It doesn’t really matter where you start for this, but make sure that you start small. If you want to expand once you’ve grasped the basics then feel free to do so.

Create Your Own Odds

This is not easy to do if you are new to horse racing, but eventually you want to be trying to set your own odds for each race. You can start with this by simply taking the data from the racecard, such as the info that you get from Timeform in the above examples.

The reason that we want to do this is that we are then able to find value. When we have a horse that we think the bookies have overpriced, then this is basically what finding value is.

Again, it could a be a little more advanced this, but once you’re able to do it to a decent standard, then you will be flying.

Try to Find Each Way Bets

When you’re starting out, you’re likely looking to get a little value for money from your bet. By this we mean that you want your money to last as you get to learn the ropes. If you’ve a £100 bankroll, then you don’t want to just place a single £100 bet, as if you lose you are broke. Instead, you want to spread these bets out a little.

Each way betting is one of the best ways to do this as even if they fail to win, you will still get some return if they place. Returns from the place bet won’t be massive, but it keeps things ticking, which is an important part to betting for novices.