Few sports have the pull of horse racing when it comes to betting. Horse racing and betting go hand-in-hand, with bets made throughout the year on all the biggest events taking place around the globe.
There is always a race available to punters to find value, with all the leading sportsbooks offering the ability to make bets on races in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. However, if you’re a beginner, what are the big factors that you should be aware of before making your first steps into horse racing betting?
The first factor that all potential bettors must first be aware of is the odds. These can come in a number of different layouts, with American and decimal odds most favoured in the United States and mainland Europe respectively. However, we believe that the most straightforward for beginners to understand are the fractional layout.
Odds are important to understand before placing a wager, as this will give the first indication of the horses with a live chance. In short, the shorter the odds, the better chance that the sportsbook gives the horse of winning. Those at bigger prices are considered to be underdogs, and have less chance of claiming victory.
Understanding odds is relatively straightforward, and beginners will pick it up quickly. As an example, we can look at odds of 5/1. The number on the left is the amount you will get back from the bet made with a wager of £1. However, as well as the £5 in winnings, punters would also get the £1 that they have wagered, making grand returns of £6.
Starting Prices vs Ante-Post
When it comes to some of the biggest races in the world, gamblers will be able to make ante-post wagers. This is a slightly more riskier way of betting, as the bet will be made long before final declarations have been confirmed. However, in return, gamblers will get much better prices on horses that could be much shorter on the day. For instance, you could get a price of 10/1 for A Plus Tard to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
If a gambler was to wait for final declarations, then that price could be halved, meaning lower returns. Depending on the sportsbook, some may offer the Non Runner No Bet promotion, which means that the stake will be returned on ante-post selections should the horse not declare. Some of the races that you can expect to bet ante-post on, include:
- Kentucky Derby
- Grand National
- Cheltenham Gold Cup
- Melbourne Cup
- Breeders’ Cup
How To Find A Winner
Finding the winner is always the main goal of every punter when it comes to betting on horse racing. Obviously, there is no sure fire way of finding the definite winner, otherwise, we would all be millionaires by now. However, there are factors to consider in order to whittle down the field to find the leading contenders.
The form is the big indicator. The form of the horses involved can easily be found on any race card, and those with a number of 1s next to them will be considered better chances. It will show dominance in their respective divisions, while those that finish second or third a lot should also be respected.
Trainer Strike Rate
Strike rates are important reading, as it will indicate the yards that are in the best form. The form of respective yards is very important to consider. If a certain trainer is firing in winners, then it will mean that the trainer is at the top of his game, and his horses have a leading chance. Trainers will poor strike rates should be avoided, as it means that something could be going wrong within the yard.
Course & Distance
Certain horses prefer running at certain tracks. This can easily be found be delving beneath the form, and studying the runs that they have had. If a horse has a number of wins at Ascot, and they are lining up at the track, then they will be considered a better chance than a horse that is yet to win at the track. Distance is also something to consider. Horses that have a proven record over a certain distance will be a potentially less risky bet than those that are stepping up or down in trip.
What Is A Handicap?
For those looking to bet on handicaps, the task ahead of them is slightly more confusing. Better horses in the race will carry more weight in an attempt to level the playing field and give the lesser horses a better chance.
Handicaps can be particularly good betting races, but it takes extensive research into the form. Punters must consider the weight that horses will carry, and this can be found on the race card alongside the age of the horse. For the most part, all horses will carry various weights, which means weighing up the pros and cons of those involved.
Of course, the most famous handicap of them all is the Grand National, which means looking at the weights of all 40 horses involved before making a bet on which one could come out on top. Handicaps are far more prominent when it comes to betting on jumps racing.
When it comes to flat racing, short-priced favourites are often good value, as they often have the form in the book to deliver wins. Take a look at the recent horse racing results for comparison here: twinspires.com/results
Placing Your Bet
After examining the horses, trainers and track stats, then it is time to make your first wager. Betting on the best odds is the final factor to consider, which often means shopping around to get the best value. However, once you have found odds that you’re happy with, you can add your selection to the bet slip, and enter the stake that you want to place on the horse.
If the horse wins the race, then you will get the potential returns that are displayed. The final consideration that all gamblers must take into account is to only bet what you’re willing to lose, as there is no guarantee that every bet will be a winner.