Horse racing has long been one of the most popular sports to bet on in the world, competing along-side major markets like football betting. There are various betting markets available when it comes to horse racing. The unpredictable nature of the sport means that punters are continuously kept guessing – and betting on – what is going to happen next. In order to find consistent success in a market as competitive as horse racing, players must be fully aware and take advantage of the most popular horse racing betting markets and the strategies that go hand and hand with those markets.
Mastering a market like the each way bet can help solidify a consistent bankroll. Players need to also always be aware of what factors actually affect the chances of picking the winning horse. Once you have a clear list of all these factors, put them into priority order. Choosing your own 'make-or-break' details will help you make quick calls, and filter out less important factors for certain races. Make sure to evolve your list over time, based on how successful your system becomes.
This sounds very complicated, though in reality it could not be simpler. An each-way bet is where you wish to back on a horse to finish within the places: if your horse comes first, you win the same as a normal win bet, but equally if you come second you also make a profit, though not as much as if the horse had won. This is a very popular method of betting, because it means punters can still collect off horses at bigger prices, even if the horses themselves are not good enough to put their head in front at the winning post.
A relatively new market is the ‘bet without’, where gamblers can back a horse to win as if the favourite was not involved in the race. For example, Hurricane Fly was favourite for the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham in 2012, but his price was too short to reap much dividend for punters. As such, most bookmakers offered the market as if Hurricane Fly was not in the race, making the second horse in the betting, Binocular, the ‘fake’ favourite. This gave punters the opportunity to bet on a different horse at better odds, according to the horse racing strategy they felt best to go on.
Elsewhere, the accumulator bet is popular, and so is the double, the treble, the goliath and the super-heinz – all bets that involve backing a number of horses, so returns are likely to be high if you pick astutely or get lucky. Websites offer all these types of bets, plus plenty of horse racing tips to help you along the way. Betting on horse racing can be one of the most exciting wagers in sport - it’s an easy game when you know how.
The standard wager is, of course, betting on a horse to win but an alternative option is the forecast: picking the first three or four horses to cross the line and the order in which they come. Similarly, you can have a go at the reverse forecast, which entails guessing the first few to cross the line, though without having to predict their order.
When placing the reverse forecast, you must be prepared to double your stake given that the outcome is more likely. The stake of the reverse forecast is similar to that of an each-way bet: you must double it because you’re betting on a horse to come in the first two, three or four, depending on the amount of runners in a race.
Studying the form of a horse is a handy starting point for any punter. However, horse racing results can also be influenced by other factors on the day. Look for how previous victories correlate with the variables of the forthcoming race. This is crucial in determining whether a horse is likely to improve, weaken or replicate prior performances.
A horse that’s run long distances and been dropped to a shorter course might not have the pace required, whilst a horse that bursts out of the gates may not have the stamina for the long chase. Taking account of the distance a horse will have to travel in comparison to its previous victories may make all the difference when hedging your bets.
Some horses prefer the ground after rain (soft), others prefer it dry (good). Correlate the conditions with previous results to find out whether your horse will perform well on the day. Breeding, size, weight and gait can also be an indication of a horse's preference. It's sometimes said that horses that raise their legs high when running prefer the soft, while those that run low prefer it firm.
Trainers all have strategies, which are evident from their past successes. For example, Richard Hannon specialises in two-year-olds and has a good record for racing young horses. Others train for specific races. Know who to back, or whose presence might pose a threat to a horse you fancy.
Jockeys, like trainers, often specialise in certain distances and styles of race. Tracking a successful jockey, and spotting when a trainer brings a big name jockey on board to push for a large win, can be a powerful betting tool. In some races, experience makes all the difference, as the once retired jockey Leighton Aspell proved when he rode Pineau De Re to victory in the 2014 Grand National.
In short races, it makes a big difference where the horse is drawn, as those on the outside will have to run slightly further. On long courses, this distance can be made up, but in sprints you'll find some horses are written off based on their track position. For example, no horse drawn higher than six has ever won the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita. In the UK, Chester, Beverley and Goodwood are courses where the draw can really affect the final outcome of the race.
The weight of a horse is a hotly debated issue, and tipsters are divided on how much they think it truly affects a performance. Handicapping can indicate a horse that's performing well, but how far the saddle, jockey and handicap cumulatively affect a horse is not always clear.
The following are some of the most popular horse racing events at top online bookmakers around the world:
Held annually at Aintree Racecourse near Liverpool in England, the Grand National is the most valuable jump race in Europe with recent prize funds surpassing £1 million. Known as the ‘ultimate test of horse and rider’, the race encompasses many difficult elements, such as higher fences and a longer distance, which distinguish it from other National Hunt races. The Grand National is a popular gambling event in British and Irish culture, distinctly so with those who do not often bet, alongside the masses of regular horse racing fans. An estimated 500 million people watch the Grand National each year in over 140 countries.
The Kentucky Derby is often referred to as the ‘Run for the Roses’ due to the winner of the race being covered in a blanket of 554 red roses upon victory. It is the final of the Kentucky Derby Festival. A thoroughbred race that takes place over 1 and a quarter miles, the derby has amassed a massive following in the USA and further afield, and is famous for its short but exciting distance. Attendance at the event is the highest for any horse race in America and usually beats the attendance of other stake races, including the Preakness Stakes and the Breeders’ Cup.
The Melbourne Cup is Australia’s biggest race. At 2 miles long, the race is for 3 year old horses and over and takes place on the Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne, Victoria as a part of the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival. Known locally as ‘the race that stops a nation’, the event begins at 3pm on the first Tuesday of every November and is a hit with bookies down under.
Taking place at the Cheltenham racecourse in Gloucestershire, England, this event is renowned for its distinctive atmosphere. The ‘Cheltenham roar’ refers to the incredible amount of noise generated by the festival’s racegoers, the number of which attending often reaches over 200,000. Millions of pounds are placed in bets throughout the week of Cheltenham, with race prize money second only to the Grand National in the UK. The number of races at Cheltenham has changed over the years, as has the length of the meeting, growing from a two day to a four day event.
Named after the mythical flying horse, the Pegasus World Cup is the richest horse race in the world, with a purse of $12 million for its first running, which took place on January 28th 2017 at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida. The event has garnered a massive amount of interest in the betting world due to its extremely high stakes, with a position at the gate costing a whopping $1 million.
Held each year on the last Saturday in March, this event is a part of the Dubai World Cup Night of races and has carried a prize purse of $10 million USD since 2010. The Dubai World Cup was the world’s richest horse race until it was surpassed by the Pegasus World Cup in 2017. At a distance of 2,000 metres, the race has remained incredibly popular with punters since its inauguration in 1996.