Starting Price Betting

If you’ve ever been on an online gambling site, you’ll have seen ‘SP’ next to the horse racing odds in that market.

For new punters getting into gambling, there’s a lot of vernacular that can make things really complicated at first, when you don’t know what it all means.

So what does SP mean in betting?

SP means that is the “Starting Price” from the bookmaker and demonstrates the price at which the horse will be at the beginning of the race.

Who Dictates the Price?

The price is usually set by bookmakers but above that, the price is governed by the betting exchange. When you place a bet on race day, a bookie will offer you the option of putting that bet on at the SP (Starting Price) or the price at the time of putting on the bet.

Online bookies offer ‘Best Odds Guaranteed’ a lot nowadays, whereby if a price is accepted at the time of the bet, but then the Starting Price is more than that, the bookmaker promises to pay out at whichever is better for the bettor.

So, really, it’s 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.

This only really applies to online bookies, though. It’s never a bad thing to go through the terms and conditions to make sure you know what’s on offer and understand it all.

(FYI: If you’re ante-post selections, unfortunately, best odds guaranteed doesn’t apply here. This is because ante post bets are famous for dramatically rising in price on race day. This has lead to a weakening interest in ante post-racing over several years now.)

How do they Work it Out?

When figuring out the SP, the officials at the race will analyse the pricing information of the track. There’s a specific way of doing the numbers, depending on geography.

It’s usually deemed by a selected panel who base the movement of pricing on the track. This gets passed on to the bookies who then use it in their pricing.

A Starting Price would initially be set at the racecourse on the day. Thanks to online betting, meetings see less and fewer numbers attending and so the price you initially see typically stays there-thereabouts the same as it reflects what happens at the betting exchange.

This isn’t always strictly true, though. If you see a short-priced favourite, a bookie might try to persuade people away from each way (EW) bets.

Prices on the betting exchange will reflect more value for winning purposes as they’re not susceptible to an each-way wager and are only really thinking about the probability of wins.

This works in the reverse too. Place markets on the exchange can reflect poor value compared to opting for a bookie’s each-way bet.

(FYI: An each way bet is one offered by bookmakers where you basically have two individual wagers, one where the horse wins and another where it places. So, you can get something back if you horse wins, or comes close).

Are there Any Good Deals?

Yes, actually! Betfair Sports offer their Betfair Starting Price to customers. Rather than being dictated by an external price, they set their own. They work it out based on bets from layers and backers. According to Betfair, they think it works out fairer than the classic method. The BSP is usually better than most official SP prices.

Why Would I Take an SP?

When betting on a horse, 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.

Will I Make Good Money?

Well, once you’re sure you know enough about the bet to make it, then your horse has to do the rest! If it finishes first, congratulations, enjoy your money!

Of course, the whole point of gambling is the fun; it’s all down to luck and no one will guarantee a profit.

You can take certain steps to make sure you have a good strategy to advance your odds. You can take up new account bonus offers and use matched betting. The latter does reduce a lot of risks and ensure the odds suit you as best they can.


An SP bet is a great security net to ensure that if bookmakers make any changes to the prices on their sites, when the race starts, you’ll be the one in a great position.

Other Bet Types

Here is the full list of horse racing betting types: