Horse Racing Betting Strategy

From casino games to horse racing, it seems as though everyone has a strategy of some sort to make the most of their money. When it comes to betting on any kind of event – in a casino or out on the track – there is often a lot of luck involved.

In fact, some people, even seasoned betters, will tell you that there is simply no such thing as the perfect racing system. Plenty of people will also tell you that choosing a horse racing betting strategy is futile. That is because there are so many different variables and factors you have to take into account!

Horse Racing Betting Strategy

However, that’s not everyone – and there are plenty of people who have won big using a bet system or two over the years. Therefore, it does pay dividends, sometimes, to take a look at various horse race systems and strategies. No matter how you use your stake, you’re going to need to make sure you are getting a great value bet. That said, some systems will also require you to succumb to a bit of trial and error before you can drive home any major returns.

With that in mind, before you read through our guide on the best racing betting systems, make sure you keep an open mind. The way some people bet may differ to others. What’s more, there are plenty of different variables – as well as lady luck – which can stand in your way. Don’t go ahead and try any of these horse racing system style until you are confident that you know what you are getting into.

How to Win at Horse Racing

You’d be surprised how many punters search for ‘how to win on horse racing’. The fact is, there’s no exact formula beyond doing plenty of research, knowing the field, and understanding the way the sport really works. In some cases, you may find that a superstitious act or a certain way of placing a bet could change everything. But is that really going to work in the long run?

The risks of using a betting system revolve around the fact that these strategies are not always built for all scenarios. There are, however, a few slight tweaks and tricks that you can put into effect which could help you find the best value punts. More often than not, this will revolve around how you read the odds, and if you know how to judge when a bookie is turning a blind eye to a potential sleeper.

However, there’s one thing you need to keep in mind whenever you start looking into horse racing betting – and that’s being ready to accept the odds. No one goes as deep into form research than a bookmaker. For good reason, too – as they will set their odds to make sure your stake gives them guaranteed money in return.

However, bookies can sometimes get things wrong – meaning that a small stake on a 100/1 shot could convert into a big loss for William Hill or Ladbrokes. However, it’s safe to say that a bookie knows what they are doing.

Advice for Beginners

There’s plenty of great advice we can give to beginners when it comes to setting up a solid horse racing betting strategy. The most obvious point we can make, of course, is that you should follow the odds. We’ll cover this in a little more detail shortly. However, if you blindly bet on any horse in a race without at least looking at their odds first, you could be doing yourself a serious disservice. Take it from us – it’s not the best way to go.

Here are a few things you are going to need to keep in mind when approaching horse racing bets for the first time.

  • The bookie’s word is gospel. As mentioned above, a bookmaker is going to know much more than the average punter when it comes to which horses will place where. Therefore, going with the favourite for a race, even if you choose them to place second or third, is always going to be assured.
  • Just as a casino has a house edge, a bookie is never going to be more than ultra-conservative with their odds setting. Yes – these odds may vary from bookie to bookie, and even at the exchange, but they don’t randomly assign numbers and probability. If your favourite horse and rider are lining up at 500/1, there’s a good chance they’re probably not going to place.
  • If you’re in it to make money, be sure to bet low, at least to begin with. Try betting low amounts on horses to come in more places than just first, for example. We’ll cover this in a little more detail shortly, but each way bets are likely to make the most out of your money. This means that even if the favourite wins the race, if you punt on a rank outsider to roll in second or third, you could stand to make some decent money back.
  • Bookies have the edge, but they are not infallible. There have been some horses at large odds who have gone on to win some seriously big races. Of course, a bookmaker is known for being extremely careful – meaning that these circumstances are likely to be few and far between.
  • But that’s just it – there is still a chance that a bookie is going to slip up on the odds sheet. This is part of what makes horse racing betting so much fun for many people. If there is a chance that a 600/1 starter is going to get home free on the final furlong, you can bet that some maverick punters are going to take that chance.

One final thing we will probably recommend to rookies betting on horses and races is to look out for big deals. If you are betting online, you may find that signing up at a new site gives you plenty of free bets and bonus cash to play with. Again, this is something we are going to cover in a little more detail below, so ensure to stick around for all the free advice we can muster.

Finding the Best Horse Racing Odds

Ok – let’s start thinking about odds. Horse race betting revolves around odds, which show you how likely, according to a bookmaker, that they will win a race. You may find that there is some variance in odds when it comes to looking through different bookies.

What’s more, if you choose to stake a bet at an exchange – on any kind of race – the odds are likely to change significantly. At an exchange, you will also be able to bet on a horse to not win a race – meaning that you could grab yourself a guaranteed win. This strategy and system, however, can take some time to perfect and to make money from.

To find the best horse racing odds online, your best bet is likely to head for a comparison site or, again, the exchange. A comparison service will allow you to quickly check through all the best prices on horses likely to run in any given race. It’s here where you can work out which odds are likely to give you the most bang for your buck.

Of course, the lower the number, the more likely it is that a horse is going to give you your stake back. For example, a 2/1 shot is likely to have a good chance of winning. ‘Evens’ shortens this even further, and when the second number is larger than the first you’re looking at even more assurance that you’re onto a good thing.

However, the odds dictate how much money you will get back if you back them to win. For example, with horses running at 3/1, you will need to pay £1 to get £3 back. It’s a triple-money shot. However, in the tightest of races, even 3/1 is unlikely to be worth your while.

Some betters prefer to head to betting sites to take wild punts on rank outsiders. These are horses in a race who roll in at longer odds, such as 66/1. Again, using our mathematics from above, betting a £1 in this case will earn you £66 back. Nice work if you can get it, but it’s very unlikely.

Try and look for horses with consistent odds where possible if you want a guaranteed win. However, if you are looking for good bets on long odds, a good strategy might be to place bets on those who have uneven rates. Use an exchange or a comparison engine to see if there is general consensus across the bookies. Then, if there is a slip from one or two of them later into proceedings – before the race starts – jump in and claim the rate.

Knowing how to win in horse racing isn’t always about knowing the best runners and riders, but knowing how to play the odds. It is a mathematics game, after all.

Different Types of Betting Strategy

So, taking the above into account, let’s take a quick look through some of the more common strategy choices betters look into when heading to high street bookies and betting sites alike. Want to make the most of your betting? You might want to get a firm foothold on one or more of these common moves.

Bet for Places, Not Wins

Commonly, odds set by bookies in the main will tell you how likely a horse is to win a race. However, what if they place second or third? By rule of probability, even a 500/1 outsider is more likely to place than it is to win outright.

Therefore, try and look at placing odds at an exchange. You may need to look through the rosters to find the best rates, but you’ll likely save yourself some money – and might even get some more cash back off a place – compared to betting to win. Check out our post on the best post positions in horse racing.

Think about each way betting, too. When you place an each way bet, you halve your stake to ensure that you get a return if a horse comes in second or third. This means that if your horse wins the race, you will get half the rate you would normally expect, but the same goes for placing, too. It is a great betting strategy to use if you really want to take a risky punt on that rank outsider. And why shouldn’t you?

Using Points to Judge Form

Something all seasoned betters will tell you to do is judge form. Form is the way that horses have been performing in previous races and meetings. Betting form is something that applies to sports and events across the board, too. You might want to check out how a football team has been performing, for example, before you choose to set up any kind of bet.

Form isn’t something that’s always easy to judge for. Beginner horse racing betters should look at using a points system, therefore, so they can get a good handle on which runners and riders are likely to do best in certain races. For example, you could give a horse 4 or 5 points for winning a race, and less for placing.

You may also wish to give points for performances across specific conditions. For example, you could points score another horse based on how they perform with hurdles or particularly long races. If they are heading towards the Grand National, for example, you may wish to look at placing your stake on a horse that’s got a good points score from long steeplechases.

Of course, this is just one way of measuring form. There are some formalities to points scoring, and if you feel this is the best way to plan for winning horses, you will find plenty of free resources online which will go into much more detail. Make sure to check them out before you start throwing any of your cash around!

Going Dutch

If you really need to look into a complex betting system as you’re having trouble making up your mind, consider dutching. Dutching is where you set up a formula for differing odds at different bookies. The aim is to try and come out with a firm percentage which will tell you how likely it is that a horse or rider will win a race.

Using this system takes some serious practice. The simplest way we can explain dutching’s formulas and algebra involves multiply your odds by 100 at one bookie, then adding the same formula to another. If the result is more than 100, then you are going to probably lose cash if you bet on them both. However, if your total is less than 100, you stand to win.

It’s a horse racing betting system which doesn’t always pull off, but plenty of punters like using this strategy when they are having serious problems working out which bookie is going to offer them the best rates. Sometimes, it’s best to play things right down the middle and to claim both markets. Why not?

Dual Forecasts and Quinellas

If you really want to make the most of your bets, and you are fairly confident you know which horses are going to break free from the pack, it probably makes sense to bet on multiple candidates. With a dual forecast, for example, you would pick two horses that you think are going to come first and second.

A quinella bet works in a similar fashion, and this is a term mainly used in US bet strategies, but it is well worth following. A quinella is actually a safer variant of the dual forecast. It’s here where you will pick two horses to win, but not necessarily the order. Therefore, you get shorter odds for your stake, but a much higher chance of winning.

Of course, if you place multiple place bets on multiple horses in a single race, your odds and chances of a return go up and up. You can set up accumulators, too, which means that to win the whole bet, all your races will have to convert – it’s a great way to place big bets at a festival, for example. These bets are fantastic money makers if you have the nerve.

Take Advantage of Bonuses

Of course, you should always take advantage of bonus deals and free bets if they ever pop up online. Many betters find they are able to make a serious profit from these deals. Therefore, make a point of searching around and comparing beginner rates.

One of the key ways that people generate winnings through bonuses and free bets is by taking part in matched betting. This is where you would place your free bets or cash from a bookie on a horse to win, and your own money on the same horse to lose at an exchange. This really is only the tip of the iceberg, however, and there are many, many guides out there telling you how to really get into the phenomenon.

Yes – it might seem like there are zero risks to matched betting – and yes, many people make a serious living from occasionally placing a stake to win and lose – but it takes a lot of work, and a lot of research, at least when you are just starting out. Therefore, our advice to begin with would be to just enjoy your freebies!

A free bonus stake might be fantastic to place on a big market or odds which you would normally avoid like the plague. As there may be no need to buy-in with your own funds, there’s no better opportunity to place a bet that would otherwise carry stacks of risk.

Do, however, ensure that you read up on the terms and conditions for any bonuses you enter into. Otherwise, you may find that you have to pay your winnings back! Some betting websites expect you to wager back your cash, which means you will need to play it back in before you can withdraw. In any case, bonuses are great in helping beginners feel their way around.

Tips to Improve Your Betting

So – to cap things off, let’s take a look at how to improve your betting with a few final points. Think of this as a summary of sorts to help refresh things before you put your money where your mouth is.

  • Trust the bookie. That might sound counter-intuitive, but they have always done more research than you.
  • However, bookies make mistakes. be sure to compare odds, look at lay betting at exchanges, and see if you can take advantage.
  • Take tips with a pinch of salt. We realise the irony, here – but we are referring to those tips you’ll get for horses which are ‘due a win at Goodwood’, and similar.
  • Ensure that you avoid formalised betting systems. Many of these can be a real waste of cash, and the last thing you’re going to want to do is lose your stake more than you have to.
  • Check out bonuses and freebies. Even if you don’t want to try matched betting, it makes sense to us free credit and bets on big odds and markets that carry a lot of risk.
  • Keep an open mind. Be willing to accept that there are no one or two betting systems which are guaranteed to bring great results. A lot of it is superstition.
  • However, do make sure that you do your homework. Without reading up on form and race history for your chosen rider and horse, you are going to be betting in the dark. Give your stake a bit of respect and at least consider how much your bet is really worth.
  • Don’t be afraid to bet each way. It’s tempting to go all-in on a winning place, but betting each way actively improves you chances of getting more than your stake back.
  • Use an odds comparison engine. Few savvy punters stick blindly to one or two bookies. You might have loyally bet at Coral over the years, but there’s nothing stopping you taking a chance on Ladbrokes or Paddy Power occasionally.
  • Trust your gut. Yes, that old chestnut. If you listen to the advice of any seasoned punter, they will probably tell you that gut instinct is the biggest tell for the biggest wins.

Knowing How to Bet on Horses Successfully

Ok – as established, betting on horses is often a mathematical quandary which results in all kinds of financial headaches. However, it’s also a lot of fun. If you are searching for ‘how to win horse racing’ regularly, you are unlikely to come up with any solid results.

Crucially, you are going to need to ensure that you do plenty of research, check plenty of odds, and trust your gut. You should always listen to the bookie – and ensure you don’t listen to tips too often.

There are no true ways to claim guaranteed cash from horse racing. However, there are smart ways in which you can make your cash travel further, and how you can take advantage of historical data. It’s all about pooling together information from various sources, and being willing to take risks. Risk-taking is at the heart of betting, and if you really want to play it safe, you’re probably not going to get many big wins in the bargain.

Take it from us – there might be a horse race system that appeals to you, but be willing to take it with a pinch of salt. There are no miracles in this game, but maybe – just maybe – you’ll be able to claim an outside win once in a while.