What are standard each-way terms?

By contrast to a win bet, an each-way bet is effectively two bets. The first bet is on the horse to win and the second is on the horse to be placed or, in other words, to finish in one of the place positions specified in the each-way terms for the race in question. Of course, if your horse finishes first, you’ll collect on both bets but, if your horse finishes second, or possibly third or fourth, you may still collect on your place bet. The each-way, or place, terms not only specify the number of places paid, but also the fraction of the win odds at which your place bet will be paid out if your horse finishes in one of those places.

Each-way terms usually depend on the number of runners in a race and, in larger fields, whether or not the race is a handicap. Races with four or fewer runners are ‘win only’ or, in other words, the only place paid is first place. In races with between five and seven runners, first and second places are paid, at one quarter of the win odds. In races of eight or more runners, first, second and third places are paid, at one fifth of the win odds. However, in handicap races, and only in handicap races, with between twelve and fifteen runners, first, second and third are paid, at one quarter of the win odds. Similarly, in handicap races with sixteen or more runners, first, second, third and fourth place are paid, at one quarter of the win odds.


What happened to Devon Loch in the Grand National?

On Saturday 4th April 2020, the national hunt spectacle that is the Aintree Grand National will once again be taking place. Televised on ITV at 5:15pm, with coverage beginning at 2pm, the nation will surely collectively be on the edge of their seat to watch this, the pinnacle of UK racing. A who’s who of racing excellence will be on display with the countries best jockeys, trainers, owners and of course horses all having one aim in mind, to cross the line in first place and become part of the history of this great race. Before long we’ll all be selecting our Grand National 2020 tips, via our own individual approaches, be that anywhere from tipsters to tea leaves!

The Grand National is a race that’s held such longevity that it’s given us everything over the years. Breathtaking back-to-back wins (Red Rum, Tiger Roll), ambitious outsiders, battling displays. The Grand National of course has also seen it’s fair share of examples of, if you will, defeat stolen from the jaws of victory. Jockey’s taking their foot off the gas too early, leading horses falling when they had the win in the bag, the list goes on. Perhaps the biggest, and some would say strangest (or most mysterious!) upset was the defeat in the Grand National of the Queen Mother owned Devon Loch.

In 1956, Devon Loch suffered what was later described as ‘the most tragic defeat in Grand National history’, but exactly what happened to him remains a mystery that endures to this day. What definitely did happen was that, 40 yards from the finish line, with the race at his mercy, Devon Loch suddenly and inexplicably fly jumped – that is, raised his forelegs as if to jump – before slithering to the ground in an unceremonious belly-flop, right in front of his owner, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, who was watching from the Royal Box. Jockey Dick Francis attempted to recover, but all chance had gone and ESB, ridden by Dave Dick, galloped by to win by 10 lengths.

Various theories have been put forward as to the cause of the demise of Devon Loch. One of the most popular is that, in the same way that horses occasionally fly jump at road crossings on National Hunt racecourses, Devon Loch caught sight of the water jump, or at least its shadow, on his inside, and instinctively tried to jump it. Francis, though, believes that Devon Loch was overwhelmed by the noise of the crowd – newsreel footage of the incident does, indeed, show the horse pricking his ears immediately beforehand – and, consequently, his hind-quarters refused to act.

It’s certainly an odd affair and one that stands out, even among all of the Grand Nationals that have come and gone over the decades. This unusual piece of sporting history has been viewed close to a million times on YouTube, which ironically make Devon Loch more of a household name than many of the actual Grand National winners from that era. A strange and unlikely chapter in the history of the event. I wonder if the 2020 race will bring any unexpected outcomes? We’ll soon find out!

What is a Group One race?

In Britain, and the rest of Europe, a Group One race is a horse race of the highest calibre, as designated by the European Pattern Committee. Group One races include some of the most prestigious, valuable and historic races in Britain, over distances between 5 furlongs and 2 miles 4 furlongs, on Grade One racecourses, such as Ascot, Newmarket and York.

Some Group One races, such as the ‘Classic’ races – that is, the 1,000 Guineas, 2,000 Guineas, Oaks, Derby and St. Leger – are restricted to certain age groups and others, such as the Nassau Stakes and Sun Chariot Stakes, are restricted to a specific gender. However, generally speaking, horses of the same age and gender compete at level weights in Group One races, with weight-for-age and weight-for-sex allowances for three-year-olds competing against older horses and fillies and mares racing against colts and geldings, respectively.

Of course, Group One races can occasionally be downgraded; to maintain Group One status, over a three-year period, the average official rating of the first four horses home in the race in question must be 115, or more. From 2018, in Group One races, other than two-year-old races, in Britain, a horse must have achieved an official rating of 80 to be allowed to run in the first place.

Can you call a racehorse anything you like?

I dare say any number of horses have been called a few ‘choice’ names in their time but, ‘officially’, Weatherbys – which administers horse racing under contract from the governing body, known as the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) – has various rules regarding what you can, and can’t, call a racehorse.

Each racehorse must be registered with a unique name or, in other words, a name that is not on the ‘protected’ list, e.g. Frankel, or registered to another horse. The name cannot even sound the same, or similar, to one on the protected list or one registered to another horse within the last ten years. Beyond that, the name must start with a letter and contain no more than 18 characters, including spaces, no punctuation marks, except apostrophes, and no more than seven syllables.

Vulgarity is frowned upon by Weatherbys, as is any name that may cause offence, to anyone, or confusion, in the day-to-day administration of horse racing or betting on the sport. If you want to name a horse after a living person, or one who has been dead for less than 50 years, you need to seek permission from that person, or their family. Even if a particular name is listed as ‘available’ it is still subject to approval by the BHA and will, almost certainly, be rejected if it contravenes any of the naming rules.

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