Understanding Horse Racing Odds

It’s imperative that you learn how to understand the odds before delving into the exciting world of horse racing.

When you first start looking into horse racing betting, one thing will become immediately obvious – that it’s all about the odds.

Understanding Horse Racing Odds

Odds are the lifeblood of the bookmaker, and if you have any chance of winning races and claiming more than your stake back, you are going to need to pay attention to them. Odds let you know how likely it is that your horse is going to come away the winner.

Plenty of people out there blindly bet on horses and races without looking at odds. However, they are fantastic at helping to gauge form, meaning that they can help you to do more than a little bit of homework. Essentially, the odds on horses in any given race show the bookies’ homework – meaning that, believe it or not, they are actually doing you something of a favour.

However, it’s important to understand exactly how odds are likely to work before you start betting on horseracing for real. Betting is actually more fun when you check out one or two odds suppliers – so let’s start cracking into what odds actually are, and why they matter.

What Are Horse Betting Odds?

Horse betting odds, to put it really simply, let you know how likely it is that your pick will win a race. To many people, odds can look like a jumble of numbers that don’t make much sense. However, once you understand how one set of odds works in a given scenario, it’s actually pretty easy to apply them in all walks of betting, not just in terms of horse racing. We’ll take a closer look at how odds affect your win bets and horse picks shortly.

Odds can appear in many different styles. In the UK, you will normally find that to bet on horses and races, you will need to understand fractional odds. These are represented by two numbers and a divide. The first number is normally larger than the second. However, it is that second number you’re going to need to look at when it comes to working out how much one horse is likely to make you if they cross the finish line first.

Crucially, what you need to remember is that in many cases, horse racing odds show you who is likely to win a race. They do not always take into account places such as second and third. That, of course, is when you will need to start splitting your bet each way, or to start looking at a betting exchange rate or two. That’s going a little deeper than we have time for right now, so let’s consider this side of things another time.

Basically -if you have any chance of picking a winning horse, you are going to need to look for horses with short odds. We’ll look into this in a moment.

Calculating Your Potential Winnings

Calculating your winning factor from any given horse race is actually easier than you might think. When you bet on horses, you are accepting a bookmaker’s price. Bookies are pretty shrewd when it comes to their research, but it’s always a good idea to take them at their word.

Of course, odds listings can vary from bookie to bookie, meaning it might be worth checking out a comparison site like the Oddschecker racing grids before you really get into how to horse race bet.

So, let’s break this down as simply as possible.

  • As mentioned, fractional odds, mainly used in UK and Irish betting, let you see how much money you could make from any given punt.
  • You have two numbers and a divide. For example, some horses may come in at 3/1, while others may be available at longer odds, at 10/1.
  • The longer the odds, the higher that first number is, and the less likely it is that a bookie thinks a horse will finish first.
  • The second number represents your stake. For example, let’s take a look at a 10/1 horse. Horses with these odds will need you to spend £1 on a bet to get £10 back. Therefore, in this bet, you would make £11.
  • The same formula applies if you double your stake. For example, again, a 10/1 bet – stake £2, and you will make £22 if your horse wins.
  • Things get a little bit trickier when you consider evens bets, where you effectively double the stake, or odds such as 3/2. A 3/2 bet shows that by placing £2 on your horse, you will get that stake and £3 back. You’ll make £5 in total.

As you can see, it’s clear why some punters prefer to bet on shorter odds. These tend to apply to the favourites of a race, who are more likely to finish first than those who are ‘rank outsiders’.

However, some people will prefer to bet on longer odds as the potential returns are much greater. However, the chances of these horses winning races is much less likely than those considered favourites. Then again, to some betters, the fact that there is a chance at all means that there is a great opportunity to bet.

How Do You Read Horse Racing Odds?

Reading horse racing odds is all about running basic maths on your stake, the second number, and the bookies’ rate, the first number. Once you’ve got the hang of fractional odds, you will likely find it pretty easy to read betting odds all around – not just for horse races. However, simply being able to read the odds doesn’t mean you are guaranteed to win. If anything, it might mean you are tempted to throw some money around in trial and error.

We’d advise not to be too hasty. If you are just starting to look at horse race betting how-to guides, bet low to begin with, and then make sure you are taking a low-risk option with anything greater. Just because one horse comes in at 100/1, does not mean they all will. To some extent, you need to trust the bookie.

How Are Horse Racing Odds Calculated?

Bookmakers and betting exchanges will set odds based on a huge variety of factors. This all builds up to form, which bookmakers and punters use to gauge how likely it is that horses win races. Form can include anything from win percentages and rates, to how horses perform on certain courses. It can also revolve around which gate number they start at, too!

Therefore, it is worth looking at bookies’ betting odds as a good gauge for form in general. A bookmaker is going to have spent incredible intensive hours calculating form on each horse running in the UK and Ireland. That means if they are pretty certain a horse is going to win a race, you can probably out your money down pretty safely.

However, if you want to place bets on horses with longer odds, there is also a chance you’ll come away a big winner. Of course, there is a lot of risk in doing this! That said, much of the fun in betting lies in taking the big chances and converting them into serious cash.

If you’re in it to win, you should probably look for shorter odds. However, when reading horse race how to bet guides, you might also find that some betters advise balancing out with longer betting odds for bigger returns. The choice is yours – and remember, odds generally tell you if you are going to win or not. Place each-way bets and you’ll split your stake, meaning you’ll make money if your horse places second or third, too.

What Are the Worst Odds in Horse Racing?

This really isn’t an easy question to answer – but when you look at some of the bigger races in the calendar, you may find some runners and riders rolling in at 500/1 or 600/1! It’s safe to say any bets on these horses are pretty risky. If you place £10 on a 600/1 shot, you’ll get £6,010 back.

That’s really not a bad return – however, do you really think bookies are going to convert on these bets too often? Consider the ‘house edge’ – and try and balance your betting slip out a little bit. Choose long and short odds, and find yourself a pattern.