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.

Why is a ‘Yankee’ bet so-called?

A ‘Yankee’ bet is, of course, is a full cover, multiple bet, which combines four selections, in four different events, in six doubles, four trebles and a four-fold accumulator, making eleven bets is total. Some sources suggest that the name of the bet is derived from the traditional, informal meaning of ‘Yankee’ – that is, a native or inhabitant of the United States of America – and cite a convenient, but probably apocryphal, account of an American GI who made a substantial profit from placing such as bet at some unconfirmed point in history.

However, it seems much more likely that the name of the bet was derived from an Australian nuance of ‘Yankee’, once again meaning ‘American’, but in the sense of ‘equal for all’. The word ‘Yankee’ appears in the expressions ‘Yankee shout’, meaning a social outing in which everyone pays for themselves, and ‘Yankee tournament’, meaning a sporting contest in which everyone plays everyone else, which date from the mid-twentieth century. It follows that ‘Yankee’ should also be used to describe a multiple bet in which each horse is coupled, in doubles, trebles and an accumulator with every other horse in the bet.