Your Ultimate Online Betting Hub in 2021
Whether you’re a once-a-year punter who enjoys a flutter on the Grand National or someone who bets on daily meetings, our horse racing betting guide covers everything you need to know.
On this page, you’ll learn everything from how and where to bet on horse racing online to the difference between a Lucky 15 and Lucky 31. We are experts in the field and by following our guidance, you can:
Here are some important factors that should be considered when choosing a bookmaker to bet on horse racing.
Choosing a bookmaker that offers best odds guaranteed on horse racing is important. Just what is best odds guaranteed, and why is it important? Well, best odds guaranteed is a concession many bookies offer, and it basically gives the punter a little advantage.
With best odds guaranteed, you accept the odds on a horse at the time you place a bet. If those odds subsequently drift and the horse starts at a higher price, in the event that the horse wins, you will be paid out at the larger odds. In essence, it means you receive the best possible price on a horse.
When looking at horse racing betting and which bookie to choose, it is important to look at the banking aspect of affairs. Banking refers broadly to the deposit and withdrawal options available to punters, and more specifically which methods are available, what the minimum and maximums are, and if there is any fee for using a specific payment type.
Everyone is different, but it is nice to be able to join an online bookmaker that has plenty of options when it comes to payment types. Most betting sites accept a wide range of e-wallets, prepaid cards, bank transfers and many other safe and secure payment methods.
You should also take into consideration the bonuses and concessions that the bookmakers offer when choosing which site to go with. Most firms now offer a sign-up bonus, but they vary in both monetary value and in terms and conditions. Firms that have strict and sneaky rollover requirements should be avoided like the plague.
We can help you find bookies that will welcome you with great bonuses and continued loyalty and VIP concessions. New UK bookmakers are a great place to start if you’re looking for bonuses – new sites often have big offers to attract new punters.
With horse races typically only taking between one to six minutes, you would think it would be difficult to get live betting action on the sport of kings. That used to be true, but several of the biggest operators are now providing in-running betting markets for horse racing.
Why should you look for bookies that offer this? Well, a couple of reasons. Firstly, in case you miss the start of the race and still want to bet. And secondly, because you might like the way a race is unfolding and want to bet more on the horse you have already backed.
Security must be high up on every punter’s list of attributes when considering which bookmaker to use. After all, there is no point in picking a bookmaker, depositing and winning bets, if you never get your money. Here at SBO, we take security very seriously and only recommend reputable and safe sites.
When looking at a bookie, it is always important to check out where they are licensed. Furthermore, other security considerations should be the website.
Gone are the days of having to travel to a high street bookmaker, scribble down your selection on a piece of paper and then join a long queue to process your bet. Nowadays, millions of racing fans choose the more convenient option of betting with an online bookmaker – it only takes a few clicks.
Follow our step-by-step guide to betting on a horse race and get ready to cheer on your selection.
That’s the simple process of betting on a horse to win. If your selection crosses the line in first place, you win. If it doesn’t, you lose. Simple, right?
Of course, there are far more adventurous bets than a single win bet – we’ll discuss those options later.
As with all sports, the chance a horse has of winning a race is represented by the odds the bookies have given it.
Horse racing odds come in many different forms, with fractional being the most prominent in the UK and decimal in Europe. There are other formats in the US and Asia, but ultimately, they all mean the same thing – the odds are the representation of the percentage chance of the horse winning a contest.
These odds may appear in a different format, but they mean the same price. The difference between fractional and decimal odds is that your original stake is incorporated into the decimal format. A £10 winning bet using either odds format would result in a return of £30.
Calculating winnings is easy. In the case of fractional odds, you would receive £20 for the horse winning, plus your £10 stake would be returned. Decimal odds keep things even simpler. Your stake is multiplied by the odds. So, a £10 bet at odds of 3.00 would equal a total return of £30.
The good news is that you can switch between different odds formats at all horse racing betting sites.
At the other end of the spectrum, bigger numbers mean the horse is unlikely to win. Of course, upsets do happen. Priced at 300-1, He Knows No Fear became the highest-priced horse to win a race in the UK or Ireland at Leopardstown in August 2020.
Trading teams at different bookmakers often have contrasting views on the chances of horses in each race, and horse racing is one of those sports where there are often big discrepancies in odds. For this very reason, we recommend creating an account at a few of the horse racing betting sites listed on this page and shopping around for the best odds on each race.
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Before you can honestly say that you understand the basics of horse racing betting, you must understand the different types of bets that can be placed.
Horse racing bets can be divided into two categories: singles and multiple bets. Let’s start by discussing the difference between backing a horse in a straight win bet as opposed to backing it each way.
A single win bet is the most straightforward bet of all. You are simply betting on one horse to win a single race. To win, the horse you’ve backed must cross the line ahead of all the others in the race. If the horse fails to win, you lose your stake. If you’re new to horse racing betting, we recommend starting with single win bets.
Often written as EW or E/W, an each way bet is essentially two bets. Half your stake is used to bet on the horse to win, while the other half of your stake backs the horse to place (usually top three, but the number of places is dependent on the number of horses in a race). This means you could receive a return even if the horse you’ve backed fails to win the race.
Now that you know the basics, let’s take a closer look at some of the more adventurous bets you can place at the best betting sites for horse racing.
Once you’ve gotten to grips with singles, the next logical step is to place a double bet. It’s simply a bet on two different horses in two different races. Both horses must win or place (if you are betting EW) for your bet to be successful, and you will win more money than you would backing each horse in a single.
A Lucky 15 bet requires you to bet on four horses in four different races. As its name suggests, it involves 15 bets in total, broken down as follows: four singles, six doubles, four trebles and one four-fold. As singles are included, it only takes one selection to win for you to receive a return. However, it is unlikely that you would recover your stake in this scenario.
If you’re feeling even more adventurous, why not make five selections and place a Lucky 31? You will be placing 31 bets in total, broken down as follows: five singles, ten doubles, ten trebles, five four-folds and one five-fold. Again, you only need one selection to win to receive a return, but the profit from a single winner will rarely cover the cost of placing a Lucky 31.
Another popular bet at horse racing betting sites is a Yankee bet. It’s a multiple bet that involves 11 betting combinations: six doubles, four trebles and one four-fold. As there are no singles, at least two of your four selections must win for you to receive a return. Naturally, you’ll be hoping for all four to win for the highest possible return.
The main countries for horse racing around the world are England, Ireland, USA, France, Dubai and Australia. These countries play host to some of the most prestigious races in the world every year.
Some are flat races, where the goal of the horses is simply to run from A to B ahead of the competition. But in the UK and Ireland especially, jumps racing (also known as National Hunt racing) is extremely popular, with the season in full flow over the autumn and winter months. Regardless of the season, the extraordinary number of meetings that take place each year guarantees that you’ll always find a race to bet on.
Let’s take a closer look at the some of the biggest horse racing events that take place across the globe.
With 60 racecourses spread across the United Kingdom, punters are treated to more than 10,000 races per year. These races can be watched live on two dedicated racing channels in the UK (At The Races and Racing TV), ensuring you can watch all the action after placing your Lucky 15.
Grand National – First run in 1839, the Grand National is held annually at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, England. It is one of the most famous and unpredictable races in the world, with horses required to jump 30 fences over two laps for a total distance of about 4 miles and 2½ furlongs. Famous fences include Becher’s Brook and The Chair, while notable winners include Red Rum and Tiger Roll.
Cheltenham Festival – Considered the Olympics of National Hunt racing, the Cheltenham Festival attracts huge crowds from all over the UK and Ireland. First held in 1860, the four-day festival takes place every March at Cheltenham Racecourse in Gloucestershire, South West England. The Cheltenham Gold Cup is held on the last day of the festival, with famous winners including Arkle and Sprinter Sacre.
Royal Ascot – Founded by Queen Anne in 1711, Ascot Racecourse attracts the Queen and other members of the royal family every June for Royal Ascot. The Queen’s own horses have won races at Royal Ascot a number of times, including top-class thoroughbreds like Estimate and Whitechapel. The five-day festival features 13 Group 1 races each year, including the Gold Cup and Coronation Stakes.
Outside of the United Kingdom, horse racing is extremely popular in European countries like Ireland and France. There are 26 major racecourses in Ireland, with more than 350 race meetings held annually. Half of the European horse racing venues are in France, with more than 250 racecourses in operation.
Galway Races – Ireland’s biggest racing festival begins on the last Monday of July every year. The seven-day festival takes place at Galway Racecourse in Ballybrit, providing a mix of flat and jumps racing. The Galway Plate and Galway Hurdle are two of the most prestigious races of the week. In addition to racing action, Ladies Day sees stylish ladies compete for Best Dressed Lady and Most Elegant Hat titles.
Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe – Also known as the Arc, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is the richest race in Europe. The 2,400-metre turf race usually takes place on the first Sunday in October every year at the ParisLongchamp Racecourse in Paris. Eight horses have won the Arc twice, including Treve and Enable. French trainer Andre Fabre is known as the king of the Arc, as seven of his horses have won the race.
Prix de Diane – Run at Chantilly Racecourse over a distance of 2,100 metres, the Prix de Diane is often referred to as the French Oaks. The Group 1 race is open to three-year-old thoroughbred fillies and takes place every year in June. Six horses have completed the Prix de Diane/Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe double, including Trève and Zarkava. The others were Pearl Cap, Nikellora, La Sorellina and Allez France.
The United States is home to the highest concentration of horse racing tracks in the entire world, with more than 75 located across the country. American racing is famous for its Triple Crown, a title awarded to a three-year-old thoroughbred that wins the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes.
Kentucky Derby – Almost always held on the first Saturday in May, the Kentucky Derby takes place at Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville. Often referred to as “the most exciting two minutes in sports”, the first leg of the Triple Crown is run on a dirt racetrack covering 1 1⁄4 miles. Secretariat, arguably the greatest racehorse of all time, won the race in a record-breaking time of 1 minute, 59.4 seconds in 1973.
Preakness Stakes – First held in 1873, the second leg of racing’s Triple Crown takes place on the third Saturday in May each year at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. It is the shortest of the three Triple Crown races, run over just 9.5 furlongs. Secretariat set a still-standing record of 1 minute, 53 seconds to win the race in 1973 on his way to becoming the ninth Triple Crown winner in history.
Belmont Stakes – The third and final leg of the Triple Crown usually takes place on the first or second Saturday in June at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. Nicknamed the “Test of the Champion”, the Belmont Stakes is the longest leg of the three races, covering a distance of 1 ½ miles. The one and only Secretariat clocked a record time of 2 minutes, 24 seconds in 1973 to win the race by 31 lengths.
Breeders’ Cup – First run at Hollywood Park in 1984, the Breeders’ Cup World Championships has established itself as the season-ending championship of Thoroughbred racing. The Breeders’ Cup Classic is the highlight of two days of racing. The Classic is the richest horse race in North America and considered the fourth leg of horse racing’s Grand Slam of Thoroughbred racing.
Pegasus World Cup – First run in 2017, the Pegasus World Cup Invitational Stakes is held in January at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida. The invitation-only race is run over dirt at a distance of 1 1⁄8 miles (9 furlongs). The Pegasus World Cup once offered $16 million in prize money and was the richest horse race in the world, but the purse has been $3 million since 2020.
Horse racing betting is extremely popular outside of Europe and the United States. Meydan Racecourse is home to the world’s richest race, the Dubai World Cup. Australia’s greatest race is the Melbourne Cup. And more than 21,000 races are held in Japan each year, including the prestigious Japan Cup.
Dubai World Cup – Held annually since 1996, the Dubai World Cup is known as the “richest day of racing” on the international racing calendar. The Group 1 race is contested at the Meydan Racecourse, with previous winners including Prince Bishop and Thunder Show. The race was created by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai and owner of Darley Stud and Godolphin Racing.
Melbourne Cup – The “race that stops a nation” takes place on the first Tuesday of November each year. First held in 1861, the richest two-mile handicap in the world is held at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne. Kingston Rule holds the record for the fastest Melbourne Cup win, crossing the line in just 3 minutes, 16.3 seconds. Other notable winners include Makybe Diva, Think Big, Rain Lover and Peter Pan.
Japan Cup – Japan’s flagship race of the year is contested annually on the last Sunday of November. The race takes place at Tokyo Racecourse in Fuchu, Tokyo, with a maximum of 18 horses competing across a distance of 2,400 metres. The Japan Cup was inaugurated in 1981 and is renowned for producing some of the most memorable finishes in recent history. Notable winners include Almond Eye and Gentildonna.
Saudi Cup – Boasting a mind-blowing $20 million purse ($10 million for the winner), the Saudi Cup is the world’s richest horse race. First run in 2020, the 1,800-metre race is run on the dirt track at King Abdulaziz Racetrack in Riyadh. The $20 million race completes two days of exhilarating racing, with a full undercard of international races ensuring spectators witness several dramatic finishes.
The Everest – Boasting a purse of $15 million, The Everest is the richest horse race in Australia and the world’s richest turf race. The weight-for-age race was first run in 2017, with a maximum of 12 horses running over 1,200 metres at Randwick Racecourse in Sydney. It has an unusual entry fee structure. Twelve slots are sold for $600,000 each, with the slot holder having the right to race or sell their place in the gate.
Horse racing is one of the most exhilarating sports to bet on, with most races over from start to finish within two minutes. The adrenaline is pumping with the opportunity to win big for a relatively small stake. Online horse racing betting can be even more enjoyable when you are given the absolute best opportunity to make money from the sport, and if you follow our advice then you will be on the right tracks.
We specialise in locating the most trusted online horse racing betting websites that give the best odds, strongest bonuses and top customer service. Only those firms that really go above and beyond for their clientele get the thumbs up from the SBO team, so what are you waiting for?
Check out our list of the most highly recommended horse racing betting sites, sign up and start betting on the sport of kings.
Absolutely! The best horse racing betting sites offer free bets and deposit bonuses when registering for their site, but some go one step further and offer exclusive promotions for specific horse racing events like the Grand National and the Cheltenham Festival. Make sure you check out the terms and conditions.
The answer is yes – 99.99% of online bookmakers will accept bets with more than one selection, and the odds of each horse will then be multiplied to give a return. For instance, a £1 treble on three runners all priced at 9/1 (10.0) would return £1,000!
UK winnings are tax-free! Otherwise, it depends on which country you are betting in, your desire to declare any winnings, and the amount that has been won. However, in Europe it is unlikely you will have to pay any tax on your winnings.
It depends on which bookie you are using, but most UK betting sites accept PayPal as a payment method. Check out our reviews to see which payment methods are available with our recommended bookmakers.