How to bet on horses: Our guide to get the best results
Last updated & tested: 2019-07-24
Horse racing has been around in many forms, originating in Asia where nomadic tribes would race horses for sport. Betting on horses followed not long after and developed from a basic transaction to an internationally organised procedure. By the 12th century horse racing came to the UK, and has remained the sport of kings ever since. Want to know how to bet on horse racing and win?
Well, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve got horse racing betting strategies and horse betting tips from some of the best minds in the industry. Take a punt on us, you’ll be glad you did!
What you have to know when betting on horses
It’s a common misconception that betting on horses is difficult, but there are a few things you need to know, like odds, return and the types of bets you can place. Common betting types include win, win place and place bet. Getting to grips with these will help you decide if a bet is worth your time and maximise potential profits. Many carefully research the betting market, allowing for horse and jockey performance, ground condition and weight.
There is little difference in knowing how to bet on horses online and how to bet in a shop. But you do need to consider the time it takes to place a bet. If using a physical bookmaker’s shop, you need to give yourself time to get to the bookies to place your bet before the horse race starts. Online, this can be done up to the moment the race begins, allowing for final wagers from your own home.
How do horse racing odds work?
Let’s talk odds. They’re the numbers displayed next to a horse’s name on a race guide. The most common form are “to one” odds and have 1 as the right-hand number, like this; 7/1, 10/1, 17/1, etc. So what do these numbers mean? In the case of 7/1, it means for every £1 you bet you’ll receive £7 back if you win. Your initial stake is returned, too, so if you bet £1 and win you’ll receive £8 back (£7 profit and the original £1 staked).
Alternative bet types pay out different amounts. What are the best bets for horse racing? Take a look below.
Each-way – where you place a bet on a horse finishing first or one of the top positions. There may be between 2-5 places in a race. The money returned to you if you win your bet depends on the place your horse finishes. If it’s first you’ll win more than if your horse finishes fifth, for example. You have to pay double stake when you place an each-way bet. A £1 each-way bet costs £2. £1 for a win and £1 for a place.
Tricast – not one for the faint hearted, a tricast is where you pick the top three horses in the right order. You’ll reap big rewards if you get this right.
Accumulator – pick more than 1 horse selection in different races and your odds will increase. Get all the results right and you’re quids in. Some consider it the best bet in horse racing today.
Horse racing betting strategies in practice
How to bet on horses 101. Imagine you’re betting on horses in the Kentucky Derby. This is a big race with around 20 horses, so bets pay out for 3 places (1, 2 & 3). You’ve taken a look at the race card and come across a horse you’d like to bet on – Lucky Stars. His odds are 3/1, so he looks a great prospect. But before you place a bet you decide to check out the internet and see that his form has deteriorated over the past few races. What’s usually a 1 or 2 finisher has been finishing 6th and 7th. After some more searching you see that your horse is carrying more weight than usual. But you did recognise another name, Mark My Words, who you remember had odds of 7/1.
You’re tempted by Mark My Words, but can’t be sure if he’ll go the distance. He’s an older horse with positions ranging from 2-5. You decide to place a bet. Horse number 2, Mark My Words now has £10 of your cash next to his name, but you want to hedge your bets. You decide to place an each-way bet and Mark My Words strolls home in 2nd place, earning you a £35 profit.
Thinking that you’re absolutely clueless about horse racing? Don’t worry, we’ve all got to start somewhere. Check out our horse racing guide for dummies for more information.
Other options to place the best horse racing bet
The most successful people betting on horses know that stretching your budget helps you gain long-term success. One of the best ways of stretching your budget is to seek out bookmakers who give you more. The best online bookmakers offer new players free sporting bets when they sign up. This is often when a large sporting event is coming up such as the World Cup or Grand National. By timing your website sign ups to these busy periods, players can boost the amount of free cash coming their way. Sometimes these bonuses are app exclusive, too, so be sure to sign up with bookmaker’s betting apps to get all the deals.
Something else to consider when betting on horses online are the fees you may be charged when betting. Horse racing fans are sometimes charged for using some payment methods like credit cards and e-wallets. The best way to check is look at your account settings and see if there are any charges. You may find some bookmakers charge fees to allow you to place a bet. Betting exchanges such as Betfair will charge commission on their bets. This is often balanced out by better odds, so be sure to check comparison checkers before placing bets.
The best bookmakers for horse racing
|Max. Wert||Bonus Type||Details||Get the Bonus|
|1||99 / 100||30||£30 FreebetT&Cs apply, 18+||Betway bonus|
|2||98 / 100||25||Claim your £25 bonus with bonus code OPENODDST&Cs apply, 18+||Novibet bonus|
|3||97 / 100||50||Fantastic £50 welcome bonusT&Cs apply, 18+||Bethard bonus|
|4||96 / 100||30||Bet £10 Get £30T&Cs apply, 18+||888 bonus|
|5||95 / 100||30||Matched bet of up to £30T&Cs apply, 18+||Coral bonus|
|18+. UK+IRE only. Paypal & some deposit & bet types excl. Min first bet £10 a odds 1/2 or more. Tote and Pool excluded. Must be placed within 14 days of account reg. £30 credited as 3 x £10 free bets. Not valid with CashOut. Free bet valid for 7 days. Free bet stake not returned. 18+ T&Cs Apply."|
|6||94 / 100||£100||Bet £50 and Get £50T&Cs apply, 18+||Betfair bonus|
|7||93 / 100||30||£30 insuranceT&Cs apply, 18+||Genting-Bet bonus|
|£30 First Bet Insurance: New customers only. Qualifying period ends 23:59 GMT on 31/12/19. A qualifying bet is a losing first settled real money single bet of at least £/€10 or more (at odds of evens (2.0) or greater (or a multiple where each selection is at odds of 2/5 (1.4) or more. Only losing win single part of an E/W bet will qualify. Free bet equal to your qualifying stake(Max £/€30) will be credited within 24 hours of qualifying bet settling and must be used within 14 days. Free bet stake not included in returns. Terms and conditions apply, 18+.|
|8||92 / 100||100||£100 in bet creditsT&Cs apply, 18+||Bet365 bonus|
|New Customers only. Up to £100 in Bet Credits. Sign up, deposit £5 or more to your account and bet365 will match your qualifying deposit in Bet Credits when you place qualifying bets to the same value and they are settled. Min odds/bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. T&Cs, time limits & exclusions apply.|
|9||91 / 100||30||£30T&Cs apply, 18+||MoPlay bonus|
|10||90 / 100||30||Bet £10 get £5 free!T&Cs apply, 18+||William-Hill bonus|
|11||89 / 100||£100||£100 Matched DepositT&Cs apply, 18+||Mr-Green bonus|
|12||88 / 100||£10||10T&Cs apply, 18+||Mobilebet bonus|
|13||88 / 100||£100||Up to 100% winnings boostT&Cs apply, 18+||32Red bonus|
|14||87 / 100||£10||£10 Free BetT&Cs apply, 18+||ComeOn bonus|
|15||86 / 100||30||Get your €30 bonus!T&Cs apply, 18+||BetVictor bonus|
|16||85 / 100||£200||100% matched bonusT&Cs apply, 18+||TonyBet bonus|
|17||84 / 100||£30||£30 Money BackT&Cs apply, 18+||Unibet bonus|
|18||83 / 100||£10||£10T&Cs apply, 18+||Grosvenor bonus|
|19||82 / 100||50||50£ FreebetT&Cs apply, 18+||Ladbrokes bonus|
|20||81 / 100||£50||50% bonus up to £50T&Cs apply, 18+||Mansion-Bet bonus|
How to find the best bookmaker for you
In our search for knowing how to bet on horses, we’ve considered free bets, apps and payment methods. There’s a lot to take in before you can decide which website is right for you. That’s why at Openodds we provide a series of comparison tables so you can see at a glance a bookmaker’s good and bad points making your decision easier. Say for example you’re looking for the site with the best free bets to spend on an upcoming Aintree meeting. All you do is click on the “best betting odds” tab at the top of the page. From here you’ll see lots of options, but today we’re interested in bookmakers with new customer offers. Click on any of the bookmakers in the comparison table and you’ll find out exactly what bonuses they offer. In-depth details explain exactly how to gain the offer too. The bookmakers are listed in test result order. Openodds put all bookmakers through a series of rigorous tests to grade them on their customer interaction, security and ease of use. They’re graded out of 100. The higher the number, the better the bookmaker scored.
Once you’ve decided on a bookmaker for you, all you need to do is click the “get bonus” button and you’ll be whisked off to the bookmaker’s site to sign up. Here you can place the best horse racing bet for you using the sign-up bonus. Who knows, you may even win!
Wondering how to bet on horses, UK players? Check out these bookmakers below
Looking for horse betting tips, reliable bookmakers and how to bet on horses? Be first past the post with 3 of the best bookmakers.
Betway scored best for overall quality
Betway grabbed a massive 94/100 in the Openodds bonus test. New players on their site receive up to £30 as a tidy free bet. This is a 100% deposit bonus so the amount of bonus you receive will depend on how much you first deposit. The minimum you can deposit is £10. Once you’ve received your bonus you’ll have 7 days to spend it, after which it’s removed from your account. To withdraw your bonus winnings you’ll need to wager 6 times your initial deposit at odds of 1.5 or more. There is no Betway bonus required, making betting on horses for beginners or experienced players child’s play.
What we really loved about Betway is their playability. The betting console is sophisticated and pays a lot of attention to aesthetics, making using the website simple to use and attractive to look at. A site that’s full of fun and excitement!
A bigger free bet bonus from Ladbrokes
Betway may have scored an impressive 94/100 in the Openodds bonus test, but hot on their heels is Ladbrokes with a tasty 91! Ladbrokes is one of the most established bookmakers in the industry with over a century of history behind them. Their bonus is larger than Betway at £50 instead of £30 and is triggered when you place a deposit of £10 or more for the first time. Your deposit will then be matched 100% by the bookmaker. Unlike many other bookmakers you need to use a bonus code to trigger the bonus. In this case, it’s F50.
How to bet on horses using the bonus: You have 7 days after receipt of the bonus to use it. Bets must be of odds 1.5 or more. If you choose to spend the bonus on each-way bets only the win part of the bet will pay out.
200% bonus from those winners at William Hill
It’s not often you find a 200% sign up bonus from an established bookmaker such as William Hill, so when you do, it’s best to snap it up quickly. An expert in the industry since 1934 with over 200,000 betting shops, the bookmaker offers football and horse betting tips, and covers a wide range of sports from around the globe.
Place your first deposit of £10 and you’ll receive 2 £10 free bets that will expire in 30 days. To qualify for these, you need to add the bonus code F20 to the promo box when making your deposit. You can use your free bets on any sport you like, but there are some exceptions to they type of bets accepted. You can’t, for example, place bets on Tote or pool games and you can’t use the free bets for lottery. Odds must be greater than 1.2 to qualify.
Remember to research your racing bets!
We’ve reached the end of our look at horse racing, and we’re sure that you’ll agree there’s plenty to think about. Bookmaker reliability is key to your success, but it’s also important to put research into every bet. Checking out odds from different bookmakers and taking advantage of their free bets is a great way to stay in control and pocket a little extra profit if your horse romps home. Few beat the offers provided by established bookmakers such as Betway, William Hill and Ladbrokes, who all offer extra cash to play with. As always, check out our Openodds bookmaker comparison table to make sure you pick the right bookie for you.
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