What types of bet are there in horse racing?

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.

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 is the Tote?

Established by an Act of Parliament in 1928, the Tote was, until sold to Betfred in 2011, a state-owned bookmaker. Formerly known as the ‘Horserace Totalisator Board’, the Tote differs from other bookmakers insofar as it offers pari-mutuel, or pool, betting on a variety of horse racing markets.

Straightforward win, place and each-way markets are available, along with more ‘exotic’ markets, but all stakes for each market are added to a kitty, or pool, from which the operator takes a percentage, before calculating the winning dividend. The dividend amount is determined simply by dividing the remainder of the pool by the number of winning bets.

Since 1992, other bookmakers have been able to take Tote bets, which are added to the appropriate pools, via a spin-off, known as Tote Direct. The seven-year monopoly on pool betting held by Betfred expired in July, 2018, but market rivals the Alizeti consortium, which already owns 25% of the Tote, and Britbet, which has the backing of 55 British racecourses, have agreed that the Tote will remain ‘as-is’ until at least 2025.