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How to bet on horse racing

The thunder of hooves and the roar of the crowd – horse racing is an exciting, action-packed spectacle. Across the world, millions love racing and the heroic horses and jockeys who make it such a fabulous sight. It’s also one of the most bet-on sports in the world, according to the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, the global betting industry for horse racing generates over $116 billion in revenue each year.

Best horse racing offers 2021

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Top races and events

The Kentucky Derby

Churchill Downs in Louisville is the venue for the first leg of the US’s historic Triple Crown. Run over 10 furlongs, the race is known as “the most exciting two minutes in sports” and attracts huge attention from racing fans in the US and all over the world.

Some of the most famous names in US racing started their Triple Crown reign in Kentucky, including Secretariat and Affirmed and, in more recent years, American Pharoah and Justify.

More than $150 million is staked on the race in an average year as form experts and occasional bettors alike try to pick the latest three-year-old hero of the US racing scene.

Horse racing bets explained

Use our playbook to hone your betting skills.

To Win / Single

The simplest horse racing bet. Study the race card and decide which of the runners you think is going to win. Multiply your stake by the odds of the selected horse (you can use our odds calculator) and, if it wins, that is the return you can expect.

In-play betting on horse racing

Even if the stalls have opened or the tapes have gone up, you can still place a bet on a horse race. Enormous strides have been taken by sportsbooks in recent years to embrace the potential of digital technology, now allowing you to enjoy horse betting online even as a race is being run.

So when the horses have jumped the first fence of the Grand National, if you like the way a horse cleared the obstacle you can place a bet on it to win.

Horse racing betting tips

When you want to enjoy horse racing betting, there are an enormous number of ways in which you can bring yourself closer to the action.

If you are still learning how to bet on horses, the choice on offer can be daunting at first before you realize the sheer variety of thrills on offer.

Similarly, choosing a sportsbook where you can enjoy horse betting online can be a lengthy process.

The best online horse betting sites have a solid reputation and offer a good array of prices and options.

One other point of interest is the offers and products available from sportsbooks for new and existing customers.

These can be in the form of free bets, enhanced odds or other enticements to tempt you to bet with one particular sportsbook.

Horse racing betting promotions

Best odds guaranteed

With Best Odds Guaranteed (BOG) when you place a wager on a horse, and its odds later get longer, you get the longer price. If your horse’s odds get shorter, you still get the price at which you backed it. That is a way in which online horse betting sites guarantee you the best odds.

Each-way extra places

This is a great way to get extra value on your horse racing bets. Each-way places should cover only the first three horses home or the first four in handicaps. But some sportsbooks offer extra places in big races so that you get a return if your horse is fifth, or even sixth.

Non-runner no bet

Check this out if you want to back a horse in a race the next day. Or, in the case of big races, a few weeks away (this is called ante-post betting). Some sportsbooks refund your bet if that horse does not run, which means you can now bet on a different horse.

Faller insurance

It can be frustrating if your chosen horse falls during a jumps race. Some horse racing betting sites offer to refund your bet, either in cash or as a free bet, if the horse you backed fails to complete the course.

Money back If 2nd place

Usually, if you wager on a horse to win and it finishes as the runner-up, you lose your stake. However, some sportsbooks will sometimes offer to return your money, either as cash or a free bet, if your selection finishes second. This offer usually relates to a big race.

Horse racing betting FAQs

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