How to bet on horse racing

Every one of the dozens of horse races that take place around the country each day is full of runners with their own individually-evolving odds, and betting on them can seem an intimidating prospect for the newcomer.

Betway aims to make things easy – at the heart of it, it’s just a matter of picking a horse to add to your bet slip, then setting your stake. To get best value for your bet, and to experience betting on horses as the thrill it is, it helps to understand a few further basic principles.

What are odds in horse racing?

In the UK, you’ll generally find horse racing odds displayed in a fractional format. The odds (or price) on a given market are expressed as a fraction, indicating the ratio of the potential win (the first number) to the stake (the second number).

As such, odds of 4/1 mean that – should you win - you’ll receive a total of 4 times your stake as winnings. If you bet £10 at odds of 4/1 and your horse wins, your total return would be £50 – representing that £40 in winnings and the return of your initial stake.

While the calculation becomes a little more difficult when the odds are 5/2 or 6/5, you need not fear - you’ll never actually have to work odds out in your head at Betway. Our bet slip includes a calculator which shows the potential return of a bet based on whatever potential stake you enter. This allows you to easily see how the potential profit of a winning return compares to the stake you’ll be risking, and adjust as much as you like before deciding whether to go ahead with the bet or not.

Types of horse racing bet

In horse racing betting, it’s most common to bet on (or back) a horse to perform in a particular race, either outright or each-way. Outright bets win only if the horse wins the race. Each-way bets wager half the value of your stake on the horse winning the race at the standard odds, and the other half of the stake – at a fraction of the win odds – on the horse finishing within the top few places (the number of places differs from race to race). 

Single bets (with a solitary selection - outright or each-way - on a single horse) are common, as are multiples, which combine selections from more than one race into a bet which wins only if all the comprising bets win. Combining two bets in this way creates a double, three a treble, and four or more an accumulator.

There are also special bet types which group varying numbers of selections into varying combinations of singles, doubles, trebles and accumulators, and offer some degree of return if fewer than all of the comprising bets win. For example, a Lucky 15 bet involves four selections, and comprises six doubles, four trebles, and a four-fold accumulator, in addition to a single bet on each of the four. We have individual guides which expand on how these special bets work, including the PatentYankee, Heinz and Canadian bets. 

How to place a bet on horse racing

The first step in placing a horse racing bets is picking your horse or horses.

For many, the joy of betting lies in studying the form (records of each horse’s previous results) to inform their picks. Certain races are handicaps – for which differing weights are assigned to the horses to carry with the intention of equalising their performance – and make this process even more involved and challenging.

Others will look at the odds alone, building a bet based on the cold mathematics of stake vs. potential win.  Others still may pick horses more casually - because their names resonate, because they like the colours of the jockey’s silks, or even entirely at random.

However you make your picks, the process of placing a bet at Betway remains the same - simply add horses to your bet slip by clicking on the current odds as they appear to the right of the horse’s name. Then, enter the stake you wish to bet on each selection in the box on the selection’s row of your bet slip. As standard, this stake will be entered as an outright bet – just tick the E/W box if you’d prefer to back the selection each-way.

In addition to betting on selections individually, you’ll be offered the option to bet on any multiples and special bet types which can be applied to your group of selections. These will appear on their own line below the selections, with their own separate box for entering your stake on them. For multiples and special bets, you’ll enter a per line stake which will be multiplied by the number of lines, or individual bets, which form the multiple. For example, a Lucky 15 is formed of 15 bets based on four selections, so your per line stake will be multiplied by 15. 

Visit Betway's horse racing betting page.