Starting Price Betting

If you’ve ever been on an online gambling sites (UK) or in your local betting shop, you’ll have seen ‘SP’ next to horse racing odds but what does it mean?

We explain all about starting prices (SP betting) in this guide.

Starting Price Betting

What Does Starting Price or SP Mean?

SP stands for Starting Price and in terms of betting it refers to the odds that a horse goes off at, when a race starts. This price is determined by a number of factors.

As you know the odds of a horse can change up to the start of a race – they can drift or shorten – but the SP is the agreed price that a punter will be paid at (unless they have taken a best odds guaranteed promise or have “taken a price or fixed odds” with on-course bookmakers).

Who Dictates the Starting Price?

The price is usually set by bookmakers but above that, the price is governed by the betting exchange and sometimes by reporters, including the Mirror Group and the Press Association.

When you place a bet on race day, a bookie will offer you the option of putting that bet on at the SP or the price at the time of putting on the bet (before the race gets underway). That is the choice a punter faces with face to face betting, sometimes this can work in a punters favour and other times not.

Most online bookies and the best horse racing betting sites negate this risk by simply offering the ‘Best Odds Guaranteed’ – whereby if a price is accepted at the time of the bet, but if the Starting Price (or SP Bet) is more than that, the bookmaker promises to pay out at whichever is better for the bettor. This is a great deal.

It is advised to take the bet at the time to ensure you’ve got it locked down, and if you opt for best odds guaranteed, you’ll walk away smiling.

These BOG only applies to online bookies, which is why we generally advise online betting here at British Racecourses.

How Do They Work Out a Starting Price?

When figuring out the SP, the officials at the racecourse will analyse the pricing information of the track; there’s a specific way of doing the numbers, depending on geography. Also, thanks to online betting (and meetings seeing less people attending) what happens on the betting exchange is also taken into consideration when finalising this price.

Are there Any Good Deals With SP Betting?

Yes! Betfair Sports offer their “Betfair Starting Price” to customers.

Rather than being dictated by an external price (as above), they set their own and they work it out based on bets from layers and backers. According to Betfair, they think it works out fairer than the classic method and the truth is the Betfair SP is usually better than most official SP prices and fixed odds.

Why Would I Take a Starting Price?

When betting on a horse race, you get the choice of the current price or the SP. If you opt for the latter, it means you’re gambling on getting the better price. You would take the SP if you though the price at the time you are betting is going to get bigger (that the price is going to drift).


A Starting Price is the odds that a horse starts off at the beginning of a race, sometimes this is shortened to SP. The price is set by a number of variables as mentioned above.

There are benefits to taking an SP over a fixed price but with many online bookmakers now offering best odds guaranteed this has been somewhat negated over the past few years.

Starting Price (SP) Betting Options

Below are online bookmakers who have great sign up offers and offer great odds guarantees and SP betting as well.