The Punter’s Guide: Horse Racing Betting Explained

The Punter’s Guide: Horse Racing Betting Explained

The horse racing gambling industry is worth billions of pounds, with events held throughout the year. Most people only have the occasional flutter at major events like the Grand National, but if you’re wanting to bet on this weekend’s horse racing, where do you start? Here’s a quick guide:

How to make money betting on horses

As with all gambling, there is no sure-fire way to make money on the horses. You can study racing form and place different amounts on various horses to cover your losses, only to see the outsider romp home in first place.

Generally, an each-way bet is a sensible place to start. Each-way bets are useful if you want to back a horse to win but you’re confident of it ‘placing’ (i.e. finishing 2nd, 3rd or 4th). While you will have to stake a little more money on an each-way bet and the odds are reduced, you will receive a return if your bet wins but also if it places, something not achievable with a straight bet. Each-way bets are common when it comes to the major events, with bookmakers such as 888sport often offering places down to 5th due to the extra amount of runners in the field.

Some gamblers may prefer to place accumulator bets in the hope of gleaning a large return from a small stake, but bear in mind that, due to the higher number of races involved, these bets are more likely to lose.

Important races and festivals

Without doubt, the biggest event in the UK racing calendar is the Grand National. Held at Aintree racecourse in Liverpool every April, the race was first established in 1839 and it is thought that around £200m is staked by punters – both experienced and amateur – each year.

The Cheltenham Festival is a week-long racing festival culminating in the Cheltenham Gold Cup which, with a prize fund of £575,000 is the most valuable non-handicap chase in the country. Other dates that punters tend to mark on their calendar include Royal Ascot, Glorious Goodwood and the Epsom Derby.

There are currently 60 operating racecourses in the UK, with events held regularly throughout the year which you can bet on.

Famous racehorses

Red Rum, the only horse to win three Grand Nationals, is arguably the best steeplechaser of all time, although Arkle won a hat-trick of Cheltenham Gold Cups in the ‘60s and the grey Desert Orchid was a formidable racer in the late ‘80s. When it comes to flat racing, the unbeaten Frankel, British Triple-Crown winning Nijinsky and the ill-fated Shergar are much-vaunted names.

The biggest wins

Hoping to get lucky at the racing? You could do worse than read the story of Yorkshire’s Fred Craggs. In 2008, Craggs placed a 50p stake on an eight-fold accumulator, at odds of 2,000,000-1. Remarkably, each horse came home for the novice punter, who collected a cool £1m, one of the biggest wins recorded in the UK in recent years.


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