Racecourse bookmakers provide one of the most iconic ingredients of racedays. They offer many ways to put your luck to the test and add another dimension to your day out, but many people are unsure about how to approach them, so we’ve put together a quick guide to betting with the bookies to help you whilst you’re at the races.
It is easier than you might think to place a bet on a racecourse if you don’t want to bet online. You can simply select your favoured horse by its number and choose the amount you want to bet, the type of bet you want to place and the bookmaker you want to use.
You might say, for instance, “£5 on number 6 to win” to the bookmaker and you’ll get a printed paper slip as a record of your bet, which you’ll need if your horse wins. You can find out more about how to place a bet in our guide.
How does horseracing betting work?
Generally speaking, betting on the horses is based on the probability of a horse winning or being placed in a race based on a variety of factors, including recent form, the going, fitness and the jockey riding them. The bookmakers on a racecourse will manage the odds of each horse for each race based on these factors, which you can see these on the boards in the betting ring.
Many racegoers who have been attending for years have a deep understanding of the sport, but this isn’t completely necessary for you to be able to enjoy a day out at the races. You can gain a basic understanding of odds in our guide here and still have a fantastic day out.
What is the betting ring?
A busy betting ring of bookmakers adds plenty to the atmosphere and sense of excitement at the racecourse. You will see them with their betting display boards with the occasional bright umbrellas in front of grandstands, as well as on the rails that divide the different enclosures at the racecourse. This area is known as the betting ring.
Racecourse bookmakers advertise the odds they will offer you on each horse in the next race on their boards. Whilst they frequently adjust these prices as more or less money is wagered ahead of the race, you will receive the odds advertised for your horse at the time you place your bet – this is known as a fixed-odds bet.
Your potential winnings will be displayed on the printed ticket you’ll receive from the bookmaker after you’ve placed your bet.
What is the best way to bet on horses?
Before placing your bet, you may wish to shop around to see which bookmaker is offering the best odds on the horse you’ve chosen. Some experienced racegoers, however, like to wait until the last possible moment before the race to place a bet if they believe the odds on their chosen horse will improve. It’s important to remember, though, that prices can also decline or shorten, so you could leave it too late.
There isn’t necessarily a ‘best way’ to bet on horses and, whilst you can make more informed predictions with the right knowledge, it is broadly down to luck – so be sure to enjoy the day more than anything else and only bet what you can afford.