Rule 4 Explained: How Rule 4 Deductions Work

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Rule 4 Explained: How Rule 4 Deductions Work

Bookmakers use Rule 4 deductions to adjust winning bets if a runner withdraws from a race after bets are placed. 

Read on to learn exactly how Rule 4 deductions work and how they can affect your payouts.

How Rule 4 Affects Payouts

Rule 4 protects bookmakers in the case of non-runners and is applied when a horse priced 14/1 or shorter is withdrawn from a race.

The shorter the odds of the withdrawn horse - the larger the Rule 4 deduction from any winning bets.

So, If a horse priced at 2/1 withdraws at the start of a race, a significant Rule 4 deduction would apply. In this instance, winning bets would be adjusted by 30%, or 30p to £1.

If you had bet £10 on the 4/1 winner, instead of winning £40, your profits would be adjusted to £28 (plus your £10 stake), because the R4 deduction of 30% would equate to a £12 adjustment.

However, if the odds of a withdrawn horse are greater than 14/1, no Rule 4 deduction is applied to the winning bets placed after the withdrawal.

So, if a 20/1 contender won’t go into the stalls at the start, then there will be no deduction to winning bets.

How Rule 4 Deductions Are Calculated

Rule 4 deductions are uniform across the betting industry, which means the best horse racing betting sites apply the same adjustments in the event of a non-runner.

The table immediately below outlines the industry standard reductions applied to each price range.

More than one Rule 4 deduction can be applied if multiple horses are withdrawn from a race, with the maximum deduction on a single runner being 90p per £1.

Rule 4 Deductions Table

Odds Of Withdrawn HorseDeduction (per £ winnings)
1/9 or shorter90p
2/11 to 2/1785p
1/4 to 1/580p
3/10 to 2/775p
2/5 to 1/370p
8/15 to 4/965p
8/13 to 4/760p
4/5 to 4/655p
20/21 to 5/650p
Evens to 6/545p
5/4 to 6/440p
13/8 to 7/435p
15/8 to 9/430p
5/2 to 3/125p
10/3 to 4/120p
9/2 to 11/215p
6/1 to 9/110p
10/1 to 14/15p
15/1 and upwardsNo deduction

 

In the table above, we can see that a horse priced 7/2 (falls between 10/3 and 4/1) would generate a 20p Rule 4 deduction at the time of withdrawal.

So, any bets on the race winner before that horse’s withdrawal will have their winnings subjected to a 20% adjustment.

If you had £50 on the even money winner, instead of having £100 returned, you'd get £90 as you'd lose £10 (20p in the £1 of winnings).

Does Rule 4 Affect Ante-Post Bets?

Rule 4 deductions do not apply to ante-post bets.

Thanks to the larger timeframes involved in the lead-up to major racing festivals and events, horses regularly come out of ante-post betting lists because of injury, form, change of targets, etc.

Punters looking for the best Cheltenham odds in ante-post markets, for example, often encounter non-runners.

This scenario changes, however, from the moment final declarations are confirmed for a race.

Any bets placed after this point, where a new market is formed, will be subject to a Rule 4 deduction should there be a non-runner.

How Does Rule 4 Affect Each-Way Bets?

Each-way bets are effectively two bets packaged up into one: A win bet and a place bet.

When Rule 4 deductions are applied, they are therefore applied to both sides of the each-way bet (if they were placed on the winner).

A 30p Rule 4, for example, could be deducted from win and place returns.

If the each-way wager yields just a place return, then the R4 deduction would be applied to that alone.


Read More: Check out the latest free bets from our recommended bookmakers


When Are Rule 4 Deductions Applied?

The actual time a Rule 4 deduction kicks in is the precise time a horse is withdrawn from a race.

Any bets placed between the formation of the market at final declarations and the horse being withdrawn will automatically be subjected to a Rule 4.

Any adjustments to returns because of non-runners are applied at the point of payout. So, the amount of money returned from your winning wager will have Rule 4 deductions already applied.

Are There Minimum & Maximum Rule 4 Deductions?

Yes, there are both minimum and maximum deductions for Rule 4 in horse racing.

The trigger price for a Rule 4 deduction is 14/1, which results in a 5p in the £1 deduction. Any withdrawal priced greater than 14/1 would not initiate a Rule 4, even if there were multiple withdrawals at those higher odds.

From that point, the shorter the odds, the bigger the deduction, right up to 1/9 or shorter, which triggers the maximum 90p per £1 maximum Rule 4 deduction.

The maximum 90p in the £1 Rule 4 deduction wipes out most profits on a winning bet and deductions of this level are actually very rare.

£500 in winnings would be reduced to just £50 were there to be a 90% deduction, for example.

Can You Have Multiple Rule 4 Deductions in One Race?

Yes. Rule 4 deductions are applied to each withdrawn horse in a race, providing they are 14/1 or shorter at the time of withdrawal.

In the case of multiple Rule 4 deductions, the cumulative total is deducted from any winnings.

So, if two horses are withdrawn from a race after you have placed your bet, and the individual R4 deductions are 15p and 35p, then a total of 50p will be deducted from every £1 of your winnings.

It’s possible, although not commonplace, that two or three horses could be withdrawn down at the start of a race, especially if there is trouble in the starting stalls.

Three withdrawals at odds of 8/1, 10/1 and 12/1 would result in a total 20p in the £1 Rule 4 deduction (10p + 5p +5p).

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Diarmuid Nolan

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