What is Horse Racing Betting?

What is Horse Racing Betting? Everything You Need To Know

Horse Racing Betting is placing money or a wager on a horse in a horse race in order to win money if your selection wins or places in that race.

This is betting is done at a bookmakers.

Horse race betting is gambling basically you are betting money on the outcome of a horse race in order to win more money than you staked.

Because it is gambling in the UK and Ireland you will need to be over 18 to bet on horses.

What Do Bookies Do?

Bookmakers facilitate betting on horse racing and other sports by setting the odds and placing the bets for you, they also pay out the winnings (if any) should your bet win.

You can either bet on a horse racing course, in a shop, or online with a bookmaker these days, and it’s very easy to get started.

The bookmakers end goal is to balance their book and secure a profit overall by adjusting odds based on which horses are backed to win and which are not.

What Are Odds?

Odds are numbers that represent the chances of an outcome happening in an event, in horse racing the odds show the chances of a horse winning a race.

Should the the odds be “short” on a horse it means low odds such as 2/1 meaning it has a 1 in 2 chance of winning the race and if a horse has “big odds” say 100/1 it does not have much chance of winning.

100/1 winners do happen but you wouldn’t want to be backing a 100/1 shot every time because it simply means it has a 1 in 100 chance of winning that race.

Can Odds Change?

Yes, odds change all the time, they change when people bet, the more money that is staked on a horse the shorter that horse’s odds will become, and vice versa.

Betting exchanges such as Betfair and their odds move much faster and change every second or less.

Types Of Odds

There are three types of betting odds fractional, decimal and American

  • Fractional odds are often called British odds or traditional odds and are usually written as a fraction, such as 3/1, or expressed as a ratio, like three-to-one.
  • Decimal odds represent the amount that is won for every £1 that is bet or staked, For instance, if the odds are 2.00 that a certain horse wins, the payout is £200 for every £100 wagered.
  • American odds are also known as money line odds and are accompanied by a plus (+) or minus (-) sign, with the plus sign assigned to the lower probability event with the higher payout.

How To Convert Different Odd Types

XToCalculation Required
FractionalDecimalStep 1: Divide (solve) fraction
Step 2: Add 1
FractionalAmericanStep 1: Divide (solve) fraction
Step 2: If answer >== then 100* answer
If answer <1, then 100/answer
DecimalFractionalStep 1: Deduct 1
Step 2: Convert to fraction
DecimalAmericanStep 1: If decimal odd >2 then 100* (Decimal odd -1)
if decimal odd <2 then -100 (Decimal odd -1)
AmericanDecimalStep 1: If American odd >0 then 100* (American odd/100) +1
If American odd <0 then 100* (-100/American odd) +1
AmericanFractionalIf American odd >0 then American odd/100
If American odd <0 then -100/American odd

What is Horse Racing Betting?

How To Place A Bet

There are many different types of bets you can place on a horse racing event in the UK and Ireland, the main bets are the straight win, place, and the each-way bet.

Straight Win – This is a bet on the horse you have chosen to win the race outright if your horse does not pass the post first you don’t win anything and lose your stake.

If your selection wins you will win back your stake plus a profit depending on the bookmaker’s odds you got when you placed the bet.

For example, you place a £5 straight win on a 2/1 horse and it wins the race, you win your £5 stake back and 2 times your stake on top so £15 in total.

The first number represents your return and the other number represents your stake, so 2/1 means for every 1 pound you stake you will win 2 and you will also get your original pound back.

Place – A place bet is a bet on your horse to finish in the placings for that race, the amount of places paid depends on how many runners are in the race.

Should your selection win you still will only be paid the place amount if you want to have a chance at a higher payout for a win and still be covered on the place we recommend the each-way bet explained below.

Each Way – Each way is a straight win bet and a place bet meaning you will win if the horse wins or places in a horse race, should the horse place and not win you will get a return.

If the horse wins you will be paid out on both the win and the place bets. Each way simply means your backing both ways of betting (place and win) as it is 2 bets you must double your stake.

So a £1 each way would cost £2 as it’s a £1 win bet and a £1 place bet on the same horse.

You can read our each way betting guide for more info on how these bets work.

Here are the usual place payments on horse racing events

  • 1-4 Runners – Win Only
  • 5-7 Runners – 1/4 of the odds for the first two places
  • 8+ Runners in a non-handicap – 1/5 of the odds for the first three places
  • 12-15 Runners in a handicap – 1/4 of the odds for the first three places
  • 16+ Runners in a handicap – 1/4 of the odds for the first four places

some bookmakers will pay out on more places usually at big race meetings or in special promotions so make sure you shop around.

How To Pick A Winner

The hardest part of horse racing betting is picking the winner, you may want to consider a horse racing tipster who is a professional gambler and has all the knowledge they need to succeed.

Or you may want to go it alone, if you choose the latter you will need to do a lot of research on each horse, jockey, stable, trainer, course, ground, and many other factors to have the best chance.

We suggest reading our how to pick a winner in horse racing guide to find out in more detail what you need to do to succeed in your horse betting.


Horse racing betting is simply betting on horses to win or place in a horse race in order to secure a profit if you pick the winner or placer in the race.

There are many other factors, bet types, and details that you can find out in our horse racing betting guides in order to take your betting to the more advanced level we aim to cover all avenues.

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