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How to Bet on Horse Racing: A Complete Beginners-Guide

Many people see horse racing as a sport for the experienced bettor where only those with high-end knowledge will profit. Let us tell you now that this is not true. You only need the basics to get a good enough understanding of how to bet on horse racing and start placing bets on the horses. It's true that there is a mountain of betting statistics to read through. But you can jump into all that once you secure the basics surrounding racing odds and the common racing bets. Let's begin by debunking the myth that fractional odds are confusing.

The Simplicity of Horse Racing Odds

Understanding how to read horse racing odds is essential if you want to start finding value for your money. Horse racing betting markets are displayed in fractional odds as standard. This has always been the way, and while it may look confusing to those new to sports betting, it is relatively straightforward. So, how do odds work in horse racing? 

Let's start with a simple example of 2/1 odds. This means that if you bet one unit, you will profit from two units if the horse wins. So, if you bet €10 at 2/1 odds, you would make €20 in profit plus your €10 bet back. The right number is your bet amount, and the left number determines your profit.

Not all odds are displayed as “a number” to one. Another example would be 5/2 odds, and although this looks a bit more complicated, it is still easy enough to work out. Let's use a convenient amount to make things simple and say that you bet €20 on a horse to win at 5/2 odds. This means you would get €50 back in profit. You can also add on your €20 bet amount, and so this means you end up with €70 in total. In other words, 5/2 odds means you'll gain €5 for every €2 that you bet.

What Does Odds-On Mean? 

So, what about the horses that are clear favorites? This is known as being "odds on," and the outcome is that you will make a profit that is less than your original bet amount. Let's take a favorite horse with 1/5 odds of winning. It means you would win €1 from every €5 you bet. 

So, if you bet €5 on the favorite at these odds, then you would make a profit of €1 and a total return of €6 (your €5 bet amount returned). These are not exactly attractive winnings, are they? You would have to bet €50 to make a clean €10 profit, but it's more likely that you will win because the horse is odds-on and a clear favorite.

Understanding the Basic Horse Racing Bets

You've got the basics down on how to read horse racing odds and calculate your winnings, so let's now look at the popular bet types. The one go-to bet is to back the winner of the race. This is by far the most common bet placed by casual bettors and many experienced horse racing fans, too. You will notice that the odds for a single bet like this are often much bigger than those of a football team to win a match, for example. The reason being is that horse races usually consist of several horses, and there are often 10+ or 20+ horses in the bigger events. This makes predicting the winner a lot more complicated, so the bigger odds reflect that challenge.

Other popular bets, such as the each-way bet, give you a little more freedom in where your horse needs to finish. An each-way consists of two separate bets. One for the horse to win and one for the horse to place in a top position. The bookmaker will dictate the exact number of place positions available, but between two and four is the standard. Each-way bets cost you double the bet amount, though. So, you will notice that a €5 bet will cost you €10 in total - €5 for the winning part and €5 for the place position part.

How to Bet on Horse Racing A Complete Beginners Guide

The Perfect Betting System for the Races

If you start to grasp the winner and each-way bets, then your next step on learning how to bet on horse racing would be the system bets. These include options such as the Double, Treble, Yankee, and Lucky 15 bets. In short, they consist of several bets in one. You pick several selections which cover doubles, triples, and accumulators. For example, the Yankee bet covers 11 bets from four selections. You get six doubles, four trebles, and one four-fold accumulator. 

The best part about these system bets is that you don't need all your selections to win. You can still win money from a Yankee with only two out of four horses winning. System bets are perfect for horse racing because a typical meeting consists of several races. You can choose your horses across the day before the first race starts and then sit back and see how your bet unfolds.

Horse racing may look complicated from the outside, but it's easy to understand once you know how the basics work. So, we hope you now have a good idea of how racing odds work and understand that anyone can enjoy betting on the horses. There are many advanced betting ideas to learn and a lot of data up for analysis if you want to dive deeper into the sport. But it's just as easy to casually browse the racing markets and pick out a winner. The choice is yours, but at least you now know that horse racing is not a complicated sport to bet on.

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Steven Ford
Steven FordUpdated: 09 Aug 2021
Steve started his iGaming career back in 2007 and he has not looked back since. Various job roles for both global and startup casino brands have given him a deep and thorough under...

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