As the national hunt horseracing season heading towards its climax with the Cheltenham Festival in March followed by the Grand National in April, interest in two of Britain’s biggest and most popular betting events is set to reach fever pitch.
If you’ve never placed a bet on either of these events, now may be the time to do so. However, betting on horseracing can seem intimidating, and conjures images of men who haven’t changed their clothes since the 1970s standing in long queues in grubby inner-city betting shops.
Fortunately betting on horseracing has moved with the times, with online betting becoming increasingly popular as the quick and easy alternative to visiting totes. However despite these changes, betting on horseracing can still be a daunting task due to the jargon used.
The jargon of horseracing betting conceals the fact that betting on horseracing is generally quite simple. Here are a few of the most popular betting options decoded:
Betting on a show: A horse that finishes a race with a show finishes in the top three. Betting on a show simply means betting on a horse reaching the top three. An advantage of this bet is that it allows you to bet on three horses in any given race. If all three horses show, you’ll receive three payouts, no matter what order they finish in.
Betting on a place: A horse that finishes a race placed has come either first or second. Once again you can bet on two horses with this option, and can receive a double payout irrespective of the order in which they place.
Betting on a winner: Commonly perceived as one of the easiest bets, betting on a winner is actually one of the toughest betting options. This is reflected in the higher odds paid on winning bets, particularly in handicap races. Whilst betting on a winner involves the simple process of picking your favourite, making an educated selection is far more difficult.
The ‘fectas’: The trifecta and sueprfecta are basically extensions of placing bets on a winner. However, these bets up the ante by requiring punters to correctly predict the finishing order of a race. In the case of the trifecta this means accurately predicting positions one to three, whilst the superfecta involves predicting the final standings from first to fourth place.
Betting both ways: Betting both ways is a popular method of ‘hedging’ a bet when betting on a winner. Alongside your bet on a winner, place a bet on the same horse showing. If the horse wins you’ll get paid out twice, if it falters but still manages a show still earn a payout.
There are many more betting options used by experienced punters, and virtually every race or festival will have its own specials. However, the simple betting options described above are a great way to familiarize yourself with horseracing betting. Before you head off to place your bets there is one last piece of horseracing betting information you’ll need.
Unless you plan on treating your betting like a lottery, it is worthwhile understanding the purpose of a racing card. Race cards are released in betting papers and totes once the fields for races are finalized. The race cards list the horses in the field along with information on age, weight carried (if the race is a handicap), and previous form for each runner.
The race card is not used simply to pick out the horse with the best looking stats. Instead it is used to match a horse to a given race or track, using form and recent trends in the race to decide which runner has the best prospects. This means it is often worthwhile researching race trends as well, including age, sex and form information relating to previous race winners.
If this doesn’t sound too complicated, you might also want to visit online formbooks such as the Racing Post which provides in-depth form and statistical information on every registered racehorse in the United Kingdom.
Finally, always keep in mind the golden law of betting ‘Bet enough for it to hurt, but never enough for it to do damage’.