If you’re new to horseracing and are daunted by the prospect of placing your first bet, then our guide to betting will help you.

Where can I bet?

There are two places to place a bet: the Tote and the Bookmakers.

The Tote: Usually placed throughout the course, the Tote doesn’t offer a fixed priced for a bet. The money is pooled together and shared between those with a winning ticket.

The Bookmakers: Usually located in the front of the grandstand, Bookmakers display their odds and offer a fixed price. The amount you can win is printed on your betting slip.

How much should I bet?

If you are new to betting, start off with smaller bets until you get used to it. Betting between £2 and £5 means that you can enjoy the thrill of betting, without denting your wallet.

How do ‘the odds’ work?

The odds are the probability of a particular horse winning the race.

Odds against: Horses with less than 50% probability of winning. Displayed as 2/1, 5/1

Odds on: Horses with more than 50% probability of winning. Displayed as 10/11, 4/6

The tote will show its probable prices in decimal format. The Bookmaker’s prices reflect a price for your winnings.

‘Evens’ means your horse has a 50% probability of winning. It looks like 1/1 and you get your stake plus the same amount in winnings back.

How to pick a winner

Usually dependent on observation, knowledge and luck, there are some ways of determining the best horse to bet on.

The Favourite: The horse judged most likely to win the race, and on which the most money has been bet. Often offered at the shortest odds.

The Form: The race card will print details of all the runners and riders for each race.

The 6 figures at the end of a horse’s name, such as 420131, shows where that horse was placed in its last six races. So, in this example, it would have been 4th, 2nd, not placed, 1st, 3rd and 1st.

The Jockey: With 500 professional jockeys, some well-known such as Richard Johnson, many bet on their favourite jockeys to win.

The Trainers: Trainers are as important as the jockeys. The ‘Racing Post’ will help give more background about the trainers.

The Odds: The shorter the odds, the more chance there is of winning.

Tips and Tipsters: ‘Abbot Whispers’ will give inside tips and information about the runners and riders.

The Going: The state of the ground the horses will be racing on. Dependent on the weather, the going can be heavy, soft, good to soft, good or good to firm.

How to use the race card

Usually available for purchase at the main entrance and near the Parade Ring, the race card gives an illustrated guide to each race, showing the horse’s name and their jockey.

Form Figures: Recent racing positions, with the most recent to the right. 1- 1st, 2- 2nd, 3- 3rd, O- Outside first 6, P- Pulled up, B- Brought down, F- Fell, R- Refused and U- Unseated rider.

Horse Number: Found on the saddle cloth.

Age and Weight: Age of the horse and the weight of the horse and jockey combined.

Days since last run and information: D – Horse has won over the distance, CD – Horse has won at course and distance, BF – Horse was beaten favourite in its last race.

How do I place my bet?

At the Tote – Simply say how much, the type of bet and the horse’s number, for example: ‘£5 to win on number 4 in the 4:25 race’. The amount you’ll win will only be known after the race has finished but screens will give an approximated amount.

At the Bookmakers – You’ll receive a fixed bet which will tell you how much you’ll receive if you win. Again, say how much, the type of bet and the horse’s number. Not all bookmakers accept Each Way bets, so ask before placing. Keep your betting slip safe, and collect from the same bookmakers you made your bet with.

How do I follow the race?

Five minutes before the race starts, find somewhere with a good view and settle in for the race. Look out for your horse; the horse’s number and the jockey’s colours will be printed in the race card.

What happens if I win?

Take your betting slip to the Tote/Bookmakers and collect your winnings. They’ll check your betting slip and pay out the amount you’re due to receive. You can also go to the Parade Ring and watch your winner being presented with their prize.

Totepool Guide to Betting

Want to know about the tote? Visit Totepool’s Guide to betting and find out all you need to know.


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