The art of betting is as old and venerable as racing itself. Read our quick guide to help you get started.
It's always best to have a look at the horses in the parade ring or paddock before placing a bet. There are lots of online options for before-the-day betting but it's best to shop around! Take a racing newspaper or buy a racecard at the course so you know what races are scheduled and the form for each horse running.
There are betting points throughout the racecourse, including the grandstands and most dining and hospitality facilities. With the tote, you're not betting against a bookie; your stake goes into a pool, and like the lottery, your win depends on how many other winning tickets there are.
Fill in a form with your stake, the type of bet and your horse – minimum bet £2. Beginners often place their first bets with the tote before graduating to individual bookies.
The on-course bookmakers are the heart and soul of the betting experience. But they're all different and it's worth shopping around for the best odds on each race. You can usually find them in front of the grandstand or by the rails.
When you make your bet, state the number of your chosen horse and the stake: 'Number 3, £5 to win'; listen to the bookmaker repeat the bet and then give them your stake. You will then be given an itemised receipt with details of the bet and any winnings due – check this carefully and tell the bookmaker if there's a mistake. Keep the ticket safe and if the horse wins, hand the ticket back to the bookmaker for settlement. Some bookies will only accept a minimum stake – if in doubt, ask.
Never destroy your ticket until after the 'weighed in' announcement has been made. If your horse has not won there may still be a stewards enquiry and the winner, or placed horses may be disqualified.
There are also standard betting shops at various locations in the grounds. They'll accept bets on the races and on any other events – useful if you also want to place simultaneous bets on races at other courses.
The two main types of bet are win-only and each-way. For win-only, your horse needs to win the race outright.
An each-way bet gives you more leeway and is effectively two bets – one for your horse to win and one for it to be placed (1st, 2nd or 3rd). So a £5 each-way bet will cost £10. Each bookmaker will display the terms on which they accept each-way bets on the top of their board.
Accumulator - A bet involving two or more selections in different races – winnings from one are placed on the next.
Allowance - The weight concession the horse is given to compensate for its rider’s inexperience – a greener horse carries less weight.
Also ran - Any selection not finishing 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th in a race or event.
Bar - A betting term that denotes that all horses not already listed in the betting market for a race are at the bar price or longer odds.
Each-way - A bet in two equal parts – one backing a horse to win and the other backing it to finish in the first three.
Evens or even money - Betting odds where your stake exactly equals your winnings – £5 at evens wins a further £5.
Form - A horse's race record. This is denoted by figures next to its name on a racecard: 1=1st, 2=2nd etc. 0=unplaced, P=pulled up, R=refused to race, F=fell, U=unseated rider, SU=slipped up, BF=beaten favourite.
Going - The description of conditions underfoot on the racecourse. The Jockey Club reports the going as: Heavy – Soft – Good to Soft – Good – Good to Firm – Firm – Hard.
Jolly - The favourite in the race – the horse with the shortest odds.
Monkey - £500.
Odds on - Odds where the winnings are less than the stake – thus a winning £2 bet at 2-1 on wins you £1.
On the nose - Betting on a horse to win only (not to place).
Penalty - The extra weight added to the allotted handicap weight of a horse which has won since the weights were originally published.
Placed - When a horse finishes in the first three.
Pony - £25.
SP/starting price - The official price (odds) of the horse at which the bets are settled in betting shops.
Reading the form - Each race has a form card that tells you all you need to know about the runners and their riders.
The colours - The owner’s colours, or silks, distinguish each of the jockeys and make them easy to spot.
Horse and owner - The name of the horse comes first, then the name of the owner.
Weight - Weights may be attached to a horse as handicap or penalty. This can affect each horse's chances in the race.
Jockey and trainer - Many race fans have their favourite jockeys and trainers and use them to help them choose the winning runners.
Previous form - Each horse's recent performances can give you an idea of how they're likely to fare on the day. Much of the info is abbreviated:
/ New season
- New year
U Unseated rider
B Brought down
P Pulled up
R Refused to race
SU Slipped up
BF Beaten favourite
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