It's always best to have a look at the horses in the parade ring or paddock before placing a bet. There are lots of online options for before-the-day betting but it's best to shop around!
Where to bet
Unlike racecourse bookmakers who offer you odds – or prices – for betting on each horse in a race, the Tote offers you a pool bet. This means the money it receives from bets on a given race is pooled together and, like a lottery, shares this out among customers with winning tickets.
The Tote has a minimum bet of just £2 and accepts cash and card across all courses making it one of the most convenient ways to place a bet on-course.
There are six bet types available at every course, every day with the Tote; win, place, exacta, trifecta, quadpot and placepot. So there are lots of options if you fancy your horse to place, but not to win. Don’t worry, the friendly Tote team are always on hand to help with your selections or to answer any questions.
Plus as the Tote is owned in partnership by the majority of British racecourses, it is constantly reinvesting back into racing. By choosing to bet with the Tote, you can do so knowing that racing is benefiting too.
The on-course bookmakers are the heart and soul of the betting experience, but they're all different and it's worth shopping around for the best odds on each race. You can usually find them in front of the grandstand or by the rails.
How to bet
When you make your bet, state the number of your chosen horse and the stake: 'Number 3, £5 to win'; listen to the bookmaker repeat the bet and then give them your stake.
You will then be given an itemised receipt with details of the bet and any winnings due – check this carefully and tell the bookmaker if there's a mistake.
Keep the ticket safe and if the horse wins, hand the ticket back to the bookmaker for settlement.
Never destroy your ticket until after the 'weighed in' announcement has been made. If your horse has not won there may still be a stewards enquiry and the winner, or placed horses may be disqualified.
There are also standard betting shops at various locations in the grounds. They'll accept bets on the races and on any other events – useful if you also want to place simultaneous bets on races at other courses.
Types of bet
The two main types of bet are win-only and each-way. For win-only, your horse needs to win the race outright.
An each-way bet is effectively two bets – one for your horse to win and one for it to be placed (1st, 2nd or 3rd). So a £5 each-way bet will cost £10.
Each bookmaker will display the terms on which they accept each-way bets on the top of their board.
Each-way betting terms
Working alongside the Racecourse Association (RCA), bookmakers have introduced standard each-way betting terms across Jockey Club Racecourses. Bookmakers will provide these terms, or better, when offering each-way betting.
- Fewer than 3 runners: win bets only, no places offered
- 3 or 4 runners: all to win. Where a bookmaker wishes to depart from this default position he may offer place terms for 3 or 4 runners, this must be at 1/5 odds a place 1-2.
- 5 to 7 runners (inclusive): 1/4 (one quarter) odds for finishing 1st or 2nd
- 8 or more runners: 1/5 odds for finishing 1st, 2nd or 3rd
- Handicap races with 12 to 15 runners (inclusive): 1/4 odds for finishing 1st, 2nd or 3rd
- Handicap races with 16 to 21 runners (inclusive): 1/5 odds for finishing 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th
- Handicap races with 22 or more runners: 1/4 odds for finishing 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th
Know your betting lingo
Accumulator: bet involving two or more selections in different races – winnings from one are placed on the next.
Allowance: the weight concession the horse is given to compensate for its rider’s inexperience – a greener horse carries less weight.
Also ran: any horse not finishing 1st, 2nd, 3rd or 4th in a race or event.
Bar: a betting term that denotes that all horses not already listed in the betting market for a race are at the bar price or longer odds.
Each-way: a bet in two equal parts – one backing a horse to win and the other backing it to finish in the first three.
Evens or even money: betting odds where your stake exactly equals your winnings – £5 at evens wins a further £5.
Form: A horse's race record. This is denoted by figures next to its name on a racecard: 1=1st, 2=2nd etc. 0=unplaced, P=pulled up, R=refused to race, F=fell, U=unseated rider, SU=slipped up, BF=beaten favourite.
Odds on: odds where the winnings are less than the stake – thus a winning £2 bet at 2-1 on wins you £1.
On the nose: betting on a horse to win only (not to place).
Penalty: the extra weight carried by horse which has won since the weights for a race were originally published.
Placed: when a horse finishes in the first three.
SP/starting price: the official price (odds) of the horse at which the bets are settled in betting shops.