A flag bet is a full cover, combination bet akin to the ubiquitous ‘Yankee’ insofar as it covers four selections, participating in four different events, in six doubles, four trebles and one four-fold accumulator. However, while a Yankee consists of eleven bets, a flag also bundles together six pairs of ‘if cash’ or ‘any-to-come’ wagers, known as ‘single stakes about’ or ‘up-and-down’ bets, to make a total of twenty-three bets.
Of course nowadays Online Bookies, not just ‘bricks and mortar’ establishments offer a myriad of ways to place a bet, be it single, multiple and so on. Also options such as ‘cash out’ are sometimes available actually during a live event allowing you to take the money and run, as they say. Or alternatively see the bet out if you have enough confidence in your selection.
Each single stake about bet is a wager on two selections, in two different events, and consists of two single bets. Thus, for four selections, A, B, C and D, a flag bet includes single stakes about bets on AB, AC, AD, BC, BD and CD. For the sake of simplicity, consider just the selections A and B; if selection A wins, the return on the single bet is used to fund an additional single bet, up to the original stake, on selection B, and vice versa. Of course, if either selection loses, the return on the original single bet is zero, so the additional single bet on the other cannot be funded, and both original stakes are lost. If both selections A and B lose, the return from the single stakes about bet is zero.
Horse racing offers a plethora of different types of bet, ranging from the simple to the fiercely complex. The simplest bet is a straight win single, where you place a bet on a horse to finish first in a race; if it does, you win and, if not, you lose. Slightly more complex is a win and place, or each-way, bet, where you place a bet on a horse either to win or to finish placed, according to the ‘place terms’ of the race in question. An each-way bet is effectively two bets in one, so requires double the stake of a straight win single. The place portion of the bet is paid out at a fraction of the win odds, typically 1/5 or 1/4, if your selection finishes in the first two, three or four places, depending on the type of race and the number of runners.
Of course, it is also possible to combine your selections in ‘multiple’ bets, such as doubles, trebles and accumulators, which require two, three or four or more to win or, at least, be placed, in the case of each-way multiple bets, to guarantee. Bookmakers offer a selection of multiple bets, which are known by names such as ‘Yankee’, ‘Canadian’, ‘Heinz’ and so on, depending on the number of selections and the total number of bets required to cover those selections. Other, slightly more exotic, horse racing bets include forecast and tricast betting, in which you attempt to predict the first two, or three, horses home in any race, in the correct order or any order.
Obviously, the many imponderables dictating the outcome of any horse race mean that picking a winner is not altogether straightforward. Indeed, even successful punters cannot expect to correctly predict the result of every horse race on which they place a bet and losing runs are inevitable.
Nevertheless, notwithstanding the importance of luck in running, picking a winner essentially boils down to a handful of factors, most, if not all, of which can be determined by analysing the form book. You can often make an educated guess about ability or, in the case of unraced, promising or progressive horses, potential ability by reference to the pedigree of the horse in question and its recent recent performances on the racecourse. Furthermore, certain organisations, including Racing Post and Timeform, publish ratings that express, in Imperial pounds, the ability of each horse in the eyes of their private handicappers, which can be extremely useful for comparison purposes. Recent form, say, within the last six weeks or so, indicates that a horse is likely to fit and ready to do itself justice.
Beyond that, the fact remains that most horse races are won by horses that are attempting little, or nothing, more than they have achieved in the past. Beware of any marked disparity in class, distance, going, value and weight; winning horses inevitably rise in the weights, according to official ratings allocated by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), but the weight a horse carries ultimately affects the speed at which it can gallop.
Perhaps the best known virtual horse race is the Virtual Grand National, which was first introduced in 2017, but took centre stage in 2020 after the real-life Grand National was called off due to the coronavirus. Like all virtual horse races, the Virtual Grand National is a computer simulation; computer-generated imagery (CGI) is employed to create a faithful rendition of racecourse, runners and riders and the result is determined by a sophisticated, step-by-step list of rules, technically known as an algorithm.
As in a real-world race, the odds offered on each horse are inversely proportional to its theoretical chance of winning, but the outcome is determined by a regulated random number generator (RNG). As the name suggests, a RNG is designed to generate a sequence of numbers without any discernible pattern but, in a virtual horse race, the favourite has a higher ‘weighting’ in the RNG – and, therefore, more chance of winning – than the second favourite and so on throughout the field.
The Virtual Grand National may be the best known virtual horse race, but virtual horse racing is everyday occurrence with bookmakers, on the High Street and online, in Britain. In fact, virtual horse races, Flat or Jumps, typically take place every few minutes, with win, each-way, forecast and tricast betting available.