A day at the dogs might not carry the same glamour as the big horse racing events, but there's plenty to be said for this unique sport. If you know what to look out for, you can make a pretty penny too.
For starters, greyhound racing has the same detailed form guide that horse racing does, which can tell you just about everything you need to develop a successful betting strategy. And, unlike horses, greyhounds don't have riders: so their performance relies only on them, with no human intervention.
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Greyhound racing betting has many different markets to play, and 100s of different bets. Listed below are the most popular greyhound racing betting markets, but there are plenty more, especially linked to bigger races.
The standard dog racing bet is a Win Bet; to place a win bet, you pick a dog you think will win, and place a stake on it to win. If it wins, you win a multiple of your stake, based on the odds you were given by the bookmaker - your stake is the second number in the odds, so if they were 2/1, your stake is 1 and your winnings are 2 x 1.
An each-way bet is actually two bets: When you place an each-way bet on a greyhound in a dog race, you place half your stake on the horse to win, and the other half on the dog to be placed. What a ‘place’ is depends on the size of the field, but generally a ‘place’ is considered either the first two or three to finish. In eight-dog races in Australia, place terms can be different.
A Forecast Bet is a wager placed on two dogs you believe will be placed first and second in a race. If they finish in the order you predict, then you win. A variation of the Forecast Bet is the Reverse Forecast, which is like an each-way bet; Choose two greyhounds, and as long as they both finish in the first two, in any order, you win.
A Tricast Bet goes one step further than a Forecast Bet, bringing in the third placing. Pick three dogs you think will finish in the first three in the race, predict the order they will come home, and if that happens, you win. The variation is a Combination Tricast, which allows you to win as long as your three horses finish in the first three, in any order.
Greyhound races start from traps - or boxes - to give all dogs a level start. It's handy for fairness, but also for betting as it gives us a variety of markets related to those trap numbers. Inside v Outside is a bet where you either back the three/four outside traps as one, or the three/four inside traps. If any dog from your three/four numbers wins, you win the bet.
Similar to the Inside v Outside bet, this greyhound betting market focusses on the trap numbers. You either bet on the dogs starting from traps with even numbers, or with odd numbers. If any dog from your even or odd-numbered traps wins, you win the bet.
In the UK and Ireland, where there are only six-dog races, there is another trap-related bet giving you the option to bet on two greyhounds starting next to each other. You either bet on the two dogs starting in the top two draws (closest to the rail), the middle, or the bottom, and if either of those two dogs wins, your bet comes in.
The Winning Distance bet in greyhound betting asks you to decide how far you think the winning greyhound will win by. There will usually be odds for three different distances, or distance ranges. For example: Under 1 length, 1-2 lengths, further than 2 lengths. Whatever greyhound wins, if they win by the distance you have selected, your bet wins. This can be good value when there is a very short-priced favourite.
Greyhound racing betting strategy is affected by a variety of factors. The most casual dog racing bettors choose bets based on a dog's trap number, or the colour jacket they are wearing, or simply their name. But for those that bet on greyhound racing based on knowledge, the following is taken into account:
Studying the form of a dog is the first thing you should do before betting on greyhound racing. A dog’s form is its previous racing results; it shows how many times the dog has run, where it has raced, where it has finished, and what times it posted during those runs.
The standard greyhound racing distance in the UK and Ireland is 525 yards, but there are also Sprint, Middle Distance, and Long Distance races run over trips as short as 300 yards, and as long as 1010 yards. There are also hurdle races, generally run over distances between 300 and 575 yards. The form will tell you which distance a dog is best at, or could improve over.
Dog races in the UK and Ireland generally only have six greyhounds in each race, but there are other countries that have eight-dog races, like Australia. The draw is the trap number that the dog will start the race from. Often the best trap is on the inside line - giving the dog the shortest route - especially if there is only a short run to the first bend.
Greyhound races have different grades, so there might be six 525-yard races on one card, but each race will be open to a different class of greyhound. Greyhounds are graded based on their times over the standard distance of 525 yards. They are then awarded a letter or number, or both, with A or 1, or A1, generally the highest grade. In the UK it is A1, in Ireland it is AA0, Australia is 1, America is A.
Not all greyhound trainers are equal. It is not a massive factor in deciding which dog to bet on, but it does pay to know the best trainers, and what they are best known for. Maybe a trainer is best at training younger dogs, or bitches - female dogs.
Betting on greyhound racing is most popular in the UK, Ireland, and Australia, but there is also dog racing in the US and New Zealand, and in South Africa, where it is an amatuer sport. Here are some of the richest greyhound races to bet on:
The English Greyhound Derby was first run in 1927, and moved to its present venue, Nottingham Greyhound Stadium in only 2019. The six-week competition runs from May to the end of June, the Grand Final being held at Nottingham over a distance of 500m (547 yards). The winner takes home £100,000.
Ireland's national derby was founded in 1932 and found its present home, Shelbourne Park in Dublin, in 1970. Hets begin in August, with the September final of the Irish Greyhound Derby run over 550 yards. The winner earns €140,000 for connections.
The Million Dollar Chase is the richest dog race in the world, with a total prize fund of $2million, several weeks of regional heats and finals, and a first prize of 1million in the Grand Final at Wentworth Park, Sydney. It is run over a distance of 520m (569 yards) and was inaugurated in October 2018 to champion New South Wales's Greyhounds As Pets intitiative.
The NZ Cup at Addington Raceway in Christchurch is run over 520m (569 yards) for a $125,000 purse. It is the pinnacle of the New Zealand greyhound racing season, with dogs competing in heats, semi-finals and then the final in November. It was first run in November 2007.
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