How To Bet on Horse Racing - A Simple Guide For Beginners

October 22, 2021

According to the Equine World , horse racing as a professional sport in the UK can be traced back to the 12th Century. The first horse races took place between 1660 to 1685 when King Charles held racing on the open fields, which were located on the site of Newmarket.

During Queen Anne's reign (1702-1714), spectators started betting on horse racing and many racecourses including Ascot were founded by the Queen. And the rest you can say is history. Betting on horses is now a popular pastime for many whether they go to the track or bet online at home.

If you are new to betting then you will find our handy guide "how to bet on the horse racing" a useful read.

How To bet on the Horse Racing

Betting 101

Where to Place a Bet

Depending on where you are will determine the options available to you. 

If you are at a race track then you will be able to either place at the Tote or with one of the bookies at the track. 

You can also place a bet just like if you were at home.

Those at home can place a bet with an online bookmaker either via a bookmakers online or mobile site. If you are placing a mobile bet check out the information below about betting apps. 

If you don't want to bet online you have the option to place your bet at a highstreets bookmaker or place it over the telephone. 

How to Place a Bet on a Horse Race

Betting on horse racing isn’t a complicated procedure. The method used varies slightly depending on whether you bet online, at the track or in a high-street shop. We're mostly about online betting so we've given instructions for how to bet online. 

To bet on a single horse to win:

  1. Choose horse racing from the bookies sports navigation
  2. Find the race you want to bet on
  3. Select your market
  4. Click the price you wish to take which adds the selection to your bet slip
  5. Enter your stake
  6. Double check you've entered the correct details on the betting slip
  7. If your selection is correct, select Place Bet.

Useful Tools

Betting app

This is as it suggests an app on your phone that allows you to place bets. Each bookmaker has an app that you can download and install onto your mobile device. Some bookies even have iPhone watch apps. How advanced is technology today?! 

Our home page is a great place to check out who our favourite bookmaker for online and mobile betting is at the moment. 

Each app differs slightly in the betting tools that it offers, so once you have been placing bets on the horses for a while your requirements might change and then you can revisit us and see which app is best based on the tools and features available. 

Some betting apps might be better for races taking place at a certain track or event. So it can be a great idea to take a look and see if app A is better than app B for your track of choice.  


Form guide

The form is a record of a horse’s performance in previous races. You can see the horse's previous form on some bookmaker's websites. Often the link for it is at the bottom of the site. A lot of people use the form as a good way of predicting how the horse will perform in future races. By comparing the form of the horses in the race you should be able to pick out who is likely to put on a good show in the race. 



It can be useful to take a look at the statistics for trainers, jockeys, previous winners on a particular course and distance, first-time blinkers and a few other things. Stats can also be found on some online bookmakers' websites and apps.  


Helpful Facts 

If you're going to place a real money bet on the horse racing then you are going to want to put yourself in the best possible position. There are few helpful facts that the author of the Dummies guide to horse racing suggests.

  • Listen or read commentary prior to the race and see if you can pick up any good tips to bet on.

  • The top ten riders in the jockey standings win about 90 percent of the races run during the meet.

  • Favorite horses win about 33 percent of the time, although at low payoffs.

These tips are wise unless you are placing a bet on the Grand National - if you're betting on the National you might as well pick a name out of a hat or go with your gut. 

Knowledge of Bet Types

I'm presuming as you are looking at this page you are a novice to betting on the horse racing and you know nothing about the types of bet that you can place on the racing.

I'm not going to go into too much detail in this post as we have a series of blog posts due to drop in a day or too which is going to go into a lot of detail on the topic.

But in brief, their are at least 11 types of bet. But as a beginner the only ones you need to concern yourself with is the two most popular horse racing bets that are placed by punters.

According to William Hill the most popular markets are.

  • Race Winner - simply back one horse to win the race
  • Match bets – bet on one horse to finish ahead of another
  • Place markets – pick a horse to finish in the first three (sometimes four) places
  • Betting without – a market that takes the favourite out of the equation. So, you can back a horse and if it wins or finishes second to the fav, the bet lands.

There are also two types of bets you can place on these markets:

  • Win/On the Nose - Like it says on the tin really, simply backing a horse to win.
  • Each way – A combination of a win bet and a place bet on the same horse to win, or to finish within a certain number of places.
  • Place terms - the number of horses in the race determines how many places the bookmaker will offer an each way bet on. The more horses the more places are paid out on, in general.  

Betting Odds Explained

This is an important concept to understand. Again this is a topic we are planning to go into more detail in a blog posts that planned to be released soon. But we will give you a brief overview before you read that post. 

In the UK odds are expressed as fractions, but you can alter the bookies site or app to display decimals if you like.

An example of an that you will frequently see is 2/1. This means that for every £1 stake - if it wins you will get a £2 profit. 

If the odds are 12/4, for every £4 that you stake you will get a return of £12. So a £10 will a give a £30 profit. 

Useful Terms to Know

Non Runner

NR stands for non-runner. This means that the horse will no longer be taking part in the race. If you back a horse that later becomes a NR on the day, your stake will be refunded.

Fixed Odds

Fixed Odds allow punters to secure a given price at the time of a placing their bet. This price will not be subject to any future fluctuations

Starting Price

As well as fixed odds, you may see an option for SP. This is short for ‘Starting price’. If you bet at SP, you won’t know the odds until the race has started and if you win, the official starting price (or odds), will be what your bet is paid out as.


Some bookies offer Best Odds Guaranteed on certain horse racing markets. If a race card has BOG next to it, it means that if you ‘take the price’ and the SP is greater, the bookie will pay out at the bigger odds.

Racing Offers and Promotions

Bookmakers, especially the online variety are renowned for offering new customer bonuses and offering a range of promos that existing customers can make use of. 

New customer betting offers are the most well-known deals. Bookies offer all new customers a great deal for signing up and using their app. The deals differ between bookmakers but in general, you can get a deposit bonus or a risk-free bet. However, the name used to describe the offer stated by the bookie might be a little different. 

When it comes to existing customer offers these vary quite considerably between the betting portals. Some like 888sport have a huge range of great offers but others don't have many at all. 

If a free bonus is something that interests you then you can check out the latest offers on our promotions page.


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Bookmaker Apps

  1. talkSPORT BET
  2. Karamba Sports
  3. SBK
  4. 888sport
  5. William Hill
  6. Ladbrokes
  7. Paddy Power
  8. Betway
  9. BetVictor
  10. Betfair Exchange
  11. Mansion Bet
  12. STS
  13. 32Red
  14. Unibet
  15. Coral
  16. BoyleSports


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