Welcome to a new feature on OpenOdds. In order to educate more casual punters, our horse racing experts are taking a look under the saddle at industry or betting terminology and explaining things in layman’s terms to you.
This first article is dedicated to each-way betting and how you can make it work for you. If you like horse racing, then you’ll have no doubt heard of people putting bets on each-way, but what are they?
An each-way bet is actually two wagers in one. The first part of the bet is a win only wager for the horse to finish first in the race. There is a second part, however, and that is for the horse to place. This is where things get more complicated as depending on the type of race and number of runners, the terms on offer can be different.
Know your place terms
If there are four runners or fewer declared in a horse race, then regular fixed odds bookmakers almost certainly will not offer each-way betting. A general rule of thumb is that if there are five or more runners, then you can get an each-way wager on.
However, if there are five, six or seven runners in a race, then the each-way terms are different to when there are eight or more horses in an event. You are likely to see a quarter of the outright win odds available on two places (finishing first and second) for the place part of the bet.
If there are eight or more runners, then the usual terms in a graded or non-handicap race under National Hunt rules or a group or stakes race on the Flat are a fifth of the outright win price for three places (finishing first, second or third).
Handicaps in both codes of horse racing are a different matter. The standard each-way terms tend to be a quarter of the outright win odds for three places for these sort of events that have eight to 16 runners in them. A quarter for four places is usually on offer for handicap races with runners numbering in the high teens or above.
Bookmakers, in a bid to attract your custom, may offer extra places or enhanced terms on a race, especially if they are sponsoring it. You may thus see four places and a fifth of outright win odds on offer. You have to decide whether the inferior place fraction and security of the extra place is right for your wager.
All about fractions for places
You only get a fraction of the win only odds on the place part of the bet. Understanding that is very important for each-way betting, because unless a horse is of a certain outright win price threshold, then you can actually receive a diminished return if it places but doesn’t win.
Depending on the terms, you need a horse to be a minimum win only price of 4/1 to break even on the entire each-way bet if it places or 5/1. That is because a quarter of 4/1 and a fifth of 5/1 is evens.
You will often have to tick an each-way box on an online sportsbook when placing this type of bet. If you’re old school or still enjoy placing bets in your local betting office or on track at the races, then be sure to add E/W on your betting slip so the cashier knows you are gambling each-way.
Last, and by no means least, your stake is doubled from a win single on an each-way bet because there are two wagers going on at once. A £1 each-way punt costs you £2 to put on; £1 for the win only part and a further £1 for the place part.
When is it good to use each-way bets? They are advised in wide-open and/or large field races where you have a strong view on a horse finishing within the first three, four or sometimes five and beyond. Most bookmakers will offer enhanced place terms on big events like the 40-runner Grand National at Aintree, but may have shorter odds than rivals who aren’t paying five, six, seven or even eight places.
Each-way betting advice
Sometimes, there is better value in finding a horse that can chase home a red-hot or odds-on favourite who cannot be opposed. Backing such a favourite yields small returns off a large stake, but going each-way on another horse at bigger odds to fill the places in-behind can be more profitable off modest wagers.
Let’s work through an example. Altior won the 2018 Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival at starting price odds of evens. Backing the Nicky Henderson trained star would only have doubled your money in this nine-runner contest. There was, however, massive value if you were brave enough to place an each-way wager on God’s Own who came third.
With nine horses in the field, the standard three places and a fifth of the outright odds was available for each-way betting. While the win only part of such a wager on God’s Own – sent off at 40/1 – was a loser, you received a fifth of that price on him finishing in the first three. A fifth of 40 is eight, meaning punters who backed him received 8/1 about a place.
It doesn’t matter that the win only part of this wager didn’t come off. You are well in profit off just the place part of the each-way bet. Backing horses at bigger prices do not guarantee that they will make the frame and finish inside the place terms on offer.
As with any form of betting there are risks attached, but playing each-way is an alternative strategy to piling on the favourite or making a win only bet on your fancy that should always be considered.