Horse Racing Betting

Understanding Horse Racing Betting 

The world of horse racing is often unpredictable. As such, it’s not always easy to back the right horse, regardless of what the bookies’ have deemed their favourite or what ‘fool proof’ horse racing strategy you implement. Sometimes, you just get it wrong – and that’s all part of the fun!

However, there are some ways to make your horse betting experience a little bit easier.  With this in-depth guide, we’ll explain the key horse racing tips that you need to know. It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out or if you’re an experienced bettor who wants to find a new way of doing things, these tips are a great way to improve your game. While we can’t guarantee that you’ll be a millionaire after your first bet, these tips for horse betting will point you in the right direction and show you things to look out for – you’ll be betting on horses like an expert in no time!

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Basic Horse Betting Tips

It doesn’t matter if you’re a novice or an expert bettor, these are the two basic things to bear in mind whenever you think about betting on the horses:

  • You don’t have to bet on every single race – It’s always tempting to place a bet on a horse in every race, but this isn’t always a good strategy. It’s much better to check the odds across a race day and focus on a couple of bets.
  • Set yourself a budget and don’t sway from it – A big issue that new bettors face is spreading their bankroll too thin, and then dipping into personal money when their bets don’t come in. One of the most important horse racing tips (and gambling tips in general) is to make sure you set yourself a limit. If you spend your bankroll on bets and don’t see a return, come back another day – there’s no point in spending the rent money on it!

Beginner’s Tips for Horse Betting

If you’re a newcomer to betting on horses, you’ll know that it can be quite daunting, regardless of whether you’re at the track, in a betting shop, or simply using an online lobby. But don’t despair, here are a few quick tips to ensure that you blend in with the regulars and can keep track of your bankroll:

  • The most common monetary increment when betting horses is £ While it may be tempting to sit down and throw around 10s and 5s like they’re going out of fashion, it’s a sure-fire way to deplete your bankroll. So, stick to low bets at the start and work your way up.
  • Betting on the favourite may not seem worth it, especially if you’re a bit of a risk-taker and the odds are low. However, if you do, statistically you should win around 33% of the time. If you judge your stakes right, it could be a way of making some quick profit, just don’t go in thinking you’ll make loads of cash.
  • As a rule, jockeys who are in the top 10 world rankings tend to win around 90% of any given race. If you find a race with a highly-ranked jockey in it, it’s always a safe bet to go for them. However, if you want to try your luck, you could always try betting against the jockey and hoping for a bigger payout.
  • A good horse betting tip is to always remember that bets are subject to change throughout the course of a race day. This is primarily because horses can drop out, lose or win, thus changing the prospective odds from bookies. It’s also because, like a traditional casino game, you’re betting against other bettors and not the ‘house’ – this means that winnings can change frequently.
  • The most straightforward horse bets to remember are Win, Place, and Show. A Win is where you bet on a horse to finish first, a Place is for first or second, and a Show is for first, second or third.
  • Betting on horses is all about the odds. This may seem rudimentary, but it’s fundamentally important that you understand how odds work and how to calculate your potential winnings before you start put real money on the line. Going in blind is an easy way to lose money.
  • When you’re using an online betting lobby, you can’t ask a human being about which bets mean what, so it’s a good idea to get acquainted with the different types of horse racing bets.
  • Horse bets have a very particular order to them. It’s customary, when saying your bet out loud, to say the track, the race number, your bet amount, the bet type, and then the horse number. For example, you might say, ‘Royal Ascot, Race 4, £2 to win on horse number 6.’ It’s that simple. Just be aware that when you’re making bets online, all you need to do is click on the race info to place your bets.
  • The morning line does not indicate the bookies’ favourite for any particular race. Instead, it’s the bookies prediction of what the odds will be before the race begins. A good horse racing tip is to check the morning line before a race and bet overlays on horses going at three of four times above the morning line odds.

Advanced Tips

Some of the best horse racing tips are a little more advanced, meaning you may have to go out of your way to implement them. The upside is that you’ll have a better idea of how to place bets and what pitfalls to look out for. Let’s take a look at some:

  • A good horse betting tip is to look into the history of your chosen horse. Look at its heritage, the owner, and the trainer, as well as its racing pedigree. While the odds will indicate if a horse is fancied or not, you’ll be surprised at how many good contenders you can find by doing a bit of research. And the best bit? A lot of this information is easily available, either online or in racing publications.
  • Most of the national papers publish racing information regularly, which can be a great way of getting in-depth information on races, horses, and jockeys. If you want to find information quickly, this is a good way to do it.
  • One of the best tips for horse betting is to take advantage of combined bets, such as the Excata, Trifecta, and Quinella. While they cost a bit more money than a normal bet, they can potentially bring in much more, making them a savvy choice for bettors with a passion for risk.
  • Take advantage of our worldwide horse racing betting tips and options. There’s no point restricting yourself to races in your country when there’s hundreds of races happening around the world at the same time, all with live updated odds!

To really understand the world of online horse racing, you practically have to learn a whole new language. With so many phrases, horse racing slang, betting terms, and outright jargon, it can be difficult knowing where to start, let alone what it all means! To make life a little bit easier, we’ve put together a glossary of the key horse racing terms you need to know, so whenever you next sit down to try some online betting, you won’t feel out of your depth. Whether you’re a beginner just starting out or an experienced bettor looking to freshen your knowledge, our easy-to-read guide has got you covered!


An accumulative bet that involves more than one horse, usually requiring all your horses to win in order to be successful.


To compensate for their inexperience, novice riders may be allowed a weight concession for their horse.


Horse racing slang for an artificial track that can be raced on throughout the year, including in adverse weather conditions.


This is when you place a bet on a race ahead of the race day.


This is a horse racing term applied to young jockeys who work for/with a trainer while they gain valuable riding experience.


A term used to describe a favoured horse in a race. If they are a ‘banker’, they are the horse that’s most likely to win, and their odds will reflect that.


Where you can find the lowest odds for horses that have not been published in betting forecasts.


All thoroughbreds in the Northern Hemisphere celebrate their birthday on New Year’s Day, regardless of when they were actually born.

Board Prices:

A horse racing betting term for the prices displayed by official bookmakers, from which prices are then decided.


Horse racing slang for a horse with 2/1 odds.

Burlington Bertie:

Horse racing jargon for a horse with odds of 100/30.


A flat course race that inexperienced jump horses need to complete before they go hurdling or chasing.


Horse racing slang for a horse with 3/1 odds.


Refers to a race in which a horse has been purposefully handicapped by its owner.


A word used to describe the 1,000 Guineas, 2,000 Guineas, Oaks, Derby, and St. Leger races. All the races are open to horses as young as three years old, while only mares can compete in the 1,000 Guineas and Oaks.

Clerk of the Course:

The person that’s in charge of running the entire race day.


The shirts worn by the trainers, jockeys, and owners. Each team has their own unique colours.


A young male horse (usually younger than four years old) that hasn’t been castrated.

Conditional Jockey:

A horse racing term for someone at the same level as an apprentice, but is allowed to jump.


The title given to a horse or horses that are equally likely to win a race and have the lowest odds.


This generally refers to the owner(s) and trainer(s) of the horse in question.

Course Specialist:

A horse that has either won or set a good time at a specific race before.


Horse racing jargon for a horse with odds of 10/1.


The mother of a horse.


Usually refers to the length of a race or the amount of ground covered by a horse.


In flat racing, this refers to the horses’ starting position in the stalls.


When a horse is ‘on the drift,’ it’s price increases due to a lack of support.


Slang for a horse with odds of 6/4.


Slang for a horse with odds of 9/1.

Even Money:

A horse racing betting term for a stake that brings equal money back.


A young female horse of up to four years old.


220 yards.


A male horse that has been castrated in order to be easier to train.


A term that describes the condition of the race course, ranging from heavy to firm.


An inexperienced horse.


Horse racing slang for a horse with odds of 5/1.


Where horses are allowed to carry different weights from each other, leading to an even race.

Joint Favourite:

Two horses that the bookmakers cannot choose between.


The favourite horse in any given race.


The person who decides the finishing order of the race.


A two-year-old horse.


Horse racing jargon for a race that is slightly below standard, but above a handicap race.


A horse that hasn’t won a race.


Slang for £500.

National Hunt:

Another name for jumps racing.


Usually the best bet from a tipster on any given day.


Slang for odds of 7/1.


The name given to a handicap for horses under the age of two.


When one jockey makes a formal complaint about another rider.

Odds On:

A horse racing betting term for when the winnings of a bet are less than the initial stake put in.

Off the Bit / On the Bit:

A term used to a describe whether the horse still has the bridle in its mouth when racing.

Open Ditch:

A jump with a ditch in front of it, facing the jockey.

Photo Finish:

A photo taken at the end of the race that is used to determine the winner if two horses are too close together.


A horse’s racing shoe.


A slang term for £25.


The programme of the day’s races.

Rule 4:

This is only enacted if a horse is withdrawn without sufficient time to change the odds of the rest of the race. Essentially, all other odds are reduced via a specific formula to compensate for the horse leaving.


Slang for odds of 4/1.


A horse that has been trained for jumping.


A horse’s potential.

Selling Race:

At the end of this race, the winner is sold at an auction.


The father of a horse.

Spread a Plate:

When a horse loses its shoe.

Starting Price:

The estimated odds when a race is about to begin.


A group of officials who ensure that rules are adhered to. A Steward’s Enquiry is when the stewards look into a particular aspect of a race.


Hand signals used by bookmakers to converse with each other.

Under Order:

Refers to the start of the race, while ‘they’re off’ refers to the horses leaving the stalls.


A race with only one jockey and one horse.


Horse betting slang for odds of 6/1.


A horse under the age of one, with its birthday on the 1st January.

Now that you’ve had all of the key horse racing terms explained, you’ll never feel lost when speaking to an experienced bettor. And if you want to start putting your knowledge to the test, be sure to check out our list of recommended horse betting operators!