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 is the most profitable type of bet?

Unexcitingly, but unequivocally, the most profitable type of bet for the punter or, conversely, the least profitable type of bet for the bookmaker, as far as horse racing is concerned is a single win bet, on just one horse in a race. A single win bet is the simplest, most straightforward bet of all. Unlike backing two or more horses in the same race, a.k.a. ‘Dutching’, or multiple betting, in the form of doubles, trebles and accumulators, a single win bet involves no wastage of stakes or winners going astray. A single win bet also affords control, at least, to the extent that control is possible, over the ebb and flow of the betting bank, which is an important consideration for anyone who takes betting on horses seriously. By contrast, an each-way, or ‘win and place’, bet requires double the outlay of a single win bet, with no guarantee of success. In addition, the place portion, while offering a theoretical ‘safety net’, is poor value because at standard place terms the place backer is trading under the true mathematical odds more often than not. Furthermore, each-way betting can lead to wishy-washy selections, rather than those based on clear-cut, hard evidence.

What is a multiple bet?

In the context of horse racing, a multiple bet is a bet in which a single stake is placed on two or more selections, win or each-way, in two or more different races. Any returns from the first selection are staked on the second selection – in the case of an each-way multiple bet, on a win-to-win and place-to-place basis – and so on.

A multiple bet involving two selections in two different events is known as a ‘double’, a multiple bet involving three selections in three different events is known as a ‘treble’ and a multiple bet involving four, or more, selections in four, or more, different events is known as an ‘accumulator’. In each case, all of the selections must win – or, in the case of an each-way multiple bet, at least be placed – in order to generate a return.

However, it is also possible to place a ‘full cover’ combination or permutation bet which, as the name suggests, combines all the multiple bets – that is, doubles, trebles and accumulators – for a certain number of selections. Popular bets of this type include the ‘Yankee’, which combines four selections in six doubles, four trebles and one fourfold accumulator, making 11 bets in total, and the ‘Super Yankee’, or ‘Canadian’, which combines five selections in ten doubles, ten trebles, five fourfold accumulators and one fivefold accumulator, making 26 bets in total.