For many people, having a bet – or a flutter – is part of the theatre and excitement of a day at the races, but it can be an intimidating experience until you feel like you’ve got a basic understanding of odds.
That’s why we’ve put together a simple guide to placing a bet to help you make the most of your day.
How and where to place a bet
It’s easier than you might think to place a bet at the races. You simply need to:
- Choose your favoured horse from the racecard and remember their name and number
- Decide the amount (the stake) you are comfortable with
- Choose the type of bet you would like to place
- Take your pick from the bookmakers at the betting ring
- Tell the bookmaker the horse’s number, the amount you want to bet and the type of bet, for example, “£5 each way on number 5”
The bookmakers typically have a minimum stake for placing a bet, but this will be clearly displayed on their boards.
You’ll be given a ticket once your bet has been placed; be sure to keep hold of it – if you win, you’ll need it to collect your winnings from the bookmaker.
What to do if you win
After a race, the winning and placed horses enter the winner’s enclosure. Jockeys dismount and return to the Weighing Room complex to weigh in with their kit and saddle.
Once the raceday officials are happy with the weights, you will hear “Weighed in, weighed in!” over the Tannoy to confirm the official result of the race.
At this point, you can hand over your betting slip to the bookmaker you wagered with to receive your winnings. If you placed a bet online, your account should be automatically credited.
The only time this might be delayed is when a Stewards’ Enquiry is called and officials need to look into a specific part of the race to ensure that no rules have been breached by a jockey and/or trainer.
What are the common terms and phrases in horse racing?
In many cases, the jargon behind the racing is the main barrier to understanding how to place a bet, but it’s not as complicated as it might sound.
If a horse has ‘long odds’, for instance, it simply means that it has a low chance of winning based on a number of factors that you’ll find on the racecard, but it also means that you’ll get more back for your stake if it wins.
Find out more about horseracing jargon in our guide here.
How to read the form
If you want to get more familiar with the racecard to inform your bet, you can try to pick a winner by reading the form. This gives you a series of numbers and letters next to each horse’s name to indicate how it has performed in recent races. If there are more 1s, 2s and 3s than there are 7s, 8s and 9s next to the horse you like, you might have a better chance of winning.
Tips for betting at the races
- Having a bet is not compulsory, of course; the choice is entirely up to you.
- If you bet with a bookmaker or The Tote, keep hold of your ticket as you’ll need it to collect any winnings.
- Don’t be shy! The bookies and other punters on the course will be more than happy to teach you how to bet on horses.