For many people, having a bet is part of the excitement of
a day at the races. But it can be an intimidating experience until you get used
to it. Here is a simple guide to placing a bet.
You only need to do five things to place a bet at the racecourse:
Select your favoured horse(s) from the list of runners and riders and note their name(s) and number(s).
Decide the amount – or stake – you are comfortable to bet with.
Choose the type of bet you would like to place.
Decide which betting operator you are going to place your bet with.
Tell the betting operator the horse’s number, the amount you want to bet and the type of bet e.g. “Number 5, €5 each-way”
Remember that some racecourse bookmakers might have a minimum amount you can bet (known as a stake).
Once you have placed your bet, hold on to your printed ticket – or betting slip – as if you win you have to hand this over to collect your winnings!
What to do if you win
After a race the winning and placed horses walk into the winner’s enclosure. Jockeys dismount and return to the Weighing Room complex to weigh in with their kit and saddle.
Once this is completed to the satisfaction the race day officials you will hear “Weighed in, weighed in!” Broadcast over the tannoy. At this point the result of the race is official.
Simply hand over your betting slip to the betting operator you placed your bet with and you will receive your winnings! If you bet online, your account should be credited automatically.
Before the result of the race is officially announced, if race day officials – stewards – think a problem may have occurred in the race that could see its result changed they may call a “Stewards Enquiry” over the tannoy system. Once completed the placings will be announced!
Having a bet is not compulsory; the choice is entirely up to you and you should only ever bet what you can afford!
If you bet with a bookmaker or The Tote, keep hold of your ticket as you’ll need it to collect any winnings!
Types of bets:-
The two types of bets which are the most popular with racegoers are to win and each-way.
You fancy a horse to win the race and if they do, you win your bet!
For example, a successful €2-win bet at odds of 4/1 will see you receive a pay out of €8, plus you get your €2 stake back.
Think your horse might win, but is more likely to come second or third? To improve your chances of winning you can bet each-way.
This is really two separate bets on the same horse – one for them to come first and the other for them to be placed. Because this is two bets, if you ask to put on “€2 each-way” you will be asked to pay €4 in total.
If your horse wins you will get a return from the win bet and also the place bet, because your horse placed in first position!
For example, a €2 each-way bet at odds of 4/1 will see you receive a pay-out of €8 for your €2-win bet, and then for your €2 place bet you will also receive a quarter or a fifth of that amount on top (dependent on the number of runners and type of race, see Understanding Odds). In addition, you will also get your €4 total stake back.
If your horse doesn’t win the race, but finishes in the placings, you will get nothing for your win bet and lose this part of your stake. However, you have won your place bet and you will also get this part of your stake back.
For races with 4 runners or less, bookmakers will normally only take win bets. However, sometimes a bookmaker may choose to offer place terms on the second horse and this will be a fifth of that horse’s odds.
These are usually displayed in this format: 4/1.
In spoken form this is “Four-to-one” and sometimes this can be written as: 4-1.
Odds are just maths. To illustrate some examples, let’s call each number a unit. So:
4/1: For every 1 unit you stake, you will receive 4 units if you win (plus your stake).
7/2: For every 2 units you stake, you will receive 7 units if you win (plus your stake).
9/4: For every 4 units you stake, you will receive 9 units if you win (plus your stake).
If you see fractional odds the other way around – such as 1/4 – this is called odds-on and means the horse in question is a hot favourite to win the race.
In spoken form this is “Four-to-one on”.
1/4: For every 4 units you stake, you will receive 1 unit if you win (plus your stake).
1/2: For every 2 units you stake, you will receive 1 unit if you win (plus your stake).
Sometimes you will see Evens or EVS displayed. This is the equivalent of a 1/1 fraction. Again, it means the horse in question is expected to win the race.
EVS: For every 1 unit you stake, you will receive 1 unit if you win (plus your stake).
These are usually displayed in this format: 5.00.
5.00: Simply multiply this number by your stake to calculate your total potential returns if you are placing a win bet. Unlike fractional odds, your stake is already factored into this price i.e. this is the equivalent of 4/1 plus the 1 unit you stake.
Each race has a favourite. This is the horse most likely to win, which is reflected in having the shortest price displayed with betting operators.
You will see an F alongside the horse’s odds when they are the favourite. If more than one horse has the same odds of winning according to the betting market, this will be displayed as JF, meaning joint-favourite.
What about odds when betting each-way?
Racecourse bookmakers operating at Jockey Club Racecourses must meet (or exceed in the customer’s favour) a standard set of terms if you decide to place an each-way bet.
You will appreciate it is not affordable for bookmakers to pay out on all four places in a four-runner race (!) so these agreed terms concerning place part of your each-way bet have to vary dependent on the number of runners and type of race.
• Races with 3 or runners: win bets only, unless the bookmaker chooses to offer 1/5 (one fifth) of the stated odds for finishing 1st or 2nd
• Races with 3 or 4 runners: 1/5 (one fifth) of the stated odds for finishing 1st or 2nd
• Races with 5 to 7 runners (inclusive): 1/4 (one quarter) odds for finishing 1st or 2nd
• Races with 8 or more runners: 1/5 odds for finishing 1st, 2nd or 3rd
• Handicap races with 12 to 15 runners (inclusive): 1/4 odds for finishing 1st, 2nd or 3rd
• Handicap races with 16 to 21 runners (inclusive): 1/5 odds for finishing 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th
• Handicap races with 22 or more runners: 1/4 odds for finishing 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th
Don’t let betting jargon put you off. For example, you may hear phrases such as ‘price’, ‘fixed-odds’, ‘SP’, ‘odds-on’ or ‘on the nose’. These are easily explained:
Price: This just means the odds a betting operator is offering you on a particular horse.
Fixed-odds: A fixed-odds bet is one where you get the odds advertised by the betting operator at the time you placed the bet.
SP: This stands for Starting Price and is the official odds a horse started the race with. You can ask to place an SP bet with a bookmaker. Some people do this if they think the horse they wish to bet on will start the race at a better price than is being advertised at the time, perhaps because of late money for another horse in the race.
Late money: You may hear this said when a horse is heavily backed in the final stages before a race.
Odds-on: When a horse is a strong favourite to win their price may be odds-on. This means you will make a profit of less than €1 for every €1 you bet on it. If the betting operator displays fractional prices, a horse that is odds-on will have a price where the larger number is on the bottom of the fraction i.e. 1/2. If a betting operator is using decimal odds, this will be displayed as a number less than 2.00.
Evens (Even money or EVS): When a horse is strong favourite to win their price may be described as Evens. This means you will make a profit of €1 for every €1 you bet on it. If a betting operator is using decimal odds, this will be displayed as 2.00.
Long odds: This means a horse is expected to have a low chance of winning the race, but if they do you will receive many multiples of your stake back as winnings if you have bet on it. For example, a horse priced at odds of 50/1 would be described as having long odds.
Short odds: This means a horse is expected to have a high chance of winning the race, but if they do you will make a relatively small profit on your stake if you have bet on it. For example, a horse priced at odds of 6/4 would be described as having short odds.
Racecourse bookmakers provide part of the magical ingredients of a race day.
A busy betting ring of bookmakers adds plenty to the atmosphere and sense of excitement at the racecourse. You will see them with their betting display boards (and sometimes bright umbrellas), usually in front of grandstands and on the rails that divide the different enclosures at the racecourse. This is known as the betting ring.
Racecourse bookmakers advertise the odds they will offer you on each horse in the next race on their display boards. While they may adjust these prices as money is wagered ahead of the race, you will receive the odds advertised for your horse at the time you place your bet – this is known as a fixed-odds bet.
Your potential winnings will be displayed on your printed ticket the bookmaker gives you when you place a bet.
Before placing your bet, you may wish to shop around to see if anyone is offering better odds on your horse than their fellow bookmakers. Equally, some experienced racegoers wait until the last possible moment before the race to place a bet if they believe the odds on their chosen horse will improve, but remember that prices can also decline – or shorten – and you could be too late getting your bet on!
Most betting operators allow you to sign up to bet with them on their websites and through their mobile apps. Here you will be able to view runners and riders and bet on your selections electronically. Any winnings will be credited to your online betting account automatically.