Under the Saddle: How a Rule 4 deduction works

Last updated & tested: 2019-10-14

Rule 4 deductions and how a rule 4 deduction works explained in our Under the Saddle series

Ever wondered how a rule 4 deduction works? You may have heard pundits on TV or a bookmaker say "Rule 4 may apply" and not understood what they meant!

OpenOdds experts are here to inform and educate punters about all the betting and horse racing industry terminology. They’ve put together a series of articles that do just that called Under the Saddle.

Rule 4 is the latest piece, so let’s get down to business. If a declared horse is a non-runner, then Rule 4 may indeed apply, but what is it?

The Tattersalls Committee sets the rules of betting on horse racing, and will compensate bookies when a horse is withdrawn from a race. Why is this done? Well, say a horse priced 6/4 is withdrawn from a race and you’ve backed a 6/1 chance.

Those odds reflected the chances of the horses running in the race when all declared runners were going to line up. Now that the 6/4 priced horse is not running, the chances of the 6/1 horse have in theory greatly improved.

It is no longer deemed fair and so the Rule 4 deduction reflects that. This will be a certain amount of pence for every one UK pound sterling wagered.

A Rule 4 reduction will reflect the odds a horse was at the time it was withdrawn; this can either be an early price or a show price on bookmakers’ boards if the withdrawal is late.

Horses can be withdrawn at any time; this includes when parading on the paddock, on its way down to post or at the start if it refuses to enter the stalls in a Flat race or jump off in a National Hunt event.

As long as a horse hasn’t come under starter’s orders, then it is deemed a non-runner. Let’s look at the different deductions that apply under Rule 4:

Rule 4 deductions

Odds of 1/9 or shorter: 90p in £1
2/11 to 2/17: 85p in £1
1/4 to 1/5: 80p in £1
30/100 to 2/7: 75p in £1
2/5 to 1/3: 70p in £1
8/15 to 4/9: 65p in £1
8/13 to 4/7: 60p in £1
4/5 to 4/6: 55p in £1
20/21 to 5/6: 50p in £1
Evens to 6/5: 45p in £1
5/4 to 6/4: 40p in £1
8/5 to 7/4: 35p in £1
9/5 to 9/4: 30p in £1
12/5 to 3/1: 25p in £1
16/5 to 4/1: 20p in £1
9/2 to 11/2: 15p in £1
6/1 to 9/1: 10p in £1
10/1 to 14/1: 5p in £1
Odds of bigger than 14/1: No deduction

Going back to over hypothetical example, the withdrawal of a 6/4 priced runner would result in a Rule 4 deduction of 40 pence for every £1 wagered.

As well as affecting the odds, the withdrawal of a horse can also change the place terms available on each-way bets. If eight were set to line-up, but now only seven go, then the revised terms are two places instead of three.

Rule 4 deductions can thus simultaneously work in your favour and against you. A favourite being withdrawn increases your chances of having a winner, but the return on your bet is cut as a result.

Remember, a Rule 4 deduction can only apply from when a race is finally declared. Any ante post bets you have will not be effected by subsequent withdrawals.

Horses can be withdrawn for a variety of reasons; injuries or lameness and unsuitable ground are the most common. Trainers can self-certificate on behalf of owners or get equine advice from a vet before choosing to take a runner out of a race on the day.

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