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Horse Racing

Horse racing is known as the ‘Sport of Kings’, and for good reason. Historically a pass time for the elite, there are still many monarchs and figureheads who have an active interest and investment in the industry (think The Queen and many Kings and Sheiks from the Middle East). However, modern day horse racing is far more accessible to all, with all walks of life attending race meetings and delving into ownership (made possible by the increasing popularity and number of syndications).

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UK & Ireland

Horse racing in the UK and Ireland has been popular for centuries, with two ‘codes’ of racing – Flat and National Hunt. For all intents and purposes, the flat season runs from April-November and National Hunt from November-April. There are races in both codes all year round, but each gets the bulk of the action in during its own season.

Flat racing is just a straight up race, there are no obstacles such as hurdles or fences to negotiate. The races are generally run overs shorter distances and the horses are usually a little smaller. Flat racing is more popular worldwide, and breeding is a huge part of the industry (unbeaten star Frankel now stands at stud with his ‘fee’ for covering mares now sitting at a princely £125,000). The cheaper bred horses tend to struggle to compete with those runners with ‘purple blood’ coursing through their veins. There isn’t quite such an emphasis on breeding in the National Hunt sphere, and rags to riches stories are a little more common place in the discipline which can be considered a little less of a science than the flat action.

There is a noticeable difference between the Flat calendar and its National Hunt counterpart. For the top racehorses, there are valuable races scattered throughout the year, giving runners an opportunity to follow a plan, keep racing for the season and gain some good prize money. The first big meeting is The Guineas at Newmarket in early May, followed by The Derby, and then throughout the year there is Royal Ascot, Glorious Goodwood and the St Ledger meeting. When it comes to the National Hunt code, for most, there is one primary aim – Cheltenham. All roads lead to Prestbury Park in March, where the four day festival pits the elite of the UK against their Irish rivals. Following on in April, The Grand National meeting brings the season to a crescendo. Although most widely known amongst Joe Public, The Grand National meeting is an afterthought for many racehorse trainers whose goal is to win a big race a month earlier.

Rest Of The World

The USA share the passion for horse racing, and it is big business all around the country. Flat racing on the dirt is the most popular, but there are also contests on the turf and occasionally there are jumps races.

The US hosts several big races throughout the year, including a series of three contests referred to as The Triple Crown. The first is the Kentucky Derby, run over a bit further than 1 mile at Churchill Downs in Kentucky. Following on is the Preakness Stakes, again run over a similar trip. The final contest is the Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park in New York. So difficult is The Triple Crown to win, the last successful runner to do so was Affirmed in 1978.

The Breeders Cup (usually run in late October or early November), is now considered one of the biggest meetings in the USA. Spread over two days and recently held at Santa Anita, the huge prize money attracts the best horses from around the world, with the UK and Ireland usually well represented.

Elsewhere, France hosts Prix De L’arc De Triomphe, bringing together the world’s elite 12f performers in October. In addition to the home runners and the UK and Irish contingent, there are often raiders coming from as far away as Japan. Held in early November, The Melbourne Cup is referred to as ‘the race that stops the nation’ and is Australia’s most famous contest. Run over 2miles, it attracts top class runners who have to have a blend of speed and stamina. Due to the vast some of money in the region, racing has really taken off in Dubai, with the Dubai World Cup (at the end of March) now offering a $10million purse. Racing really is a global sport.


The UK and Ireland are in a unique position where they can bet at bookmakers, taking the odds of runners, bet online on betting exchanges, or they can bet into a Tote (pool betting). In France and the USA, punters only have the option of the latter, and as such they do not know the odds of their runner until the race gets underway. With betting exchanges and fixed odds operators available to the UK and Ireland, punters can find odds and determine whether they represent value or not, putting the bettors at an advantage over their foreign counterparts.

Bet Types

Domestically, most seasoned gamblers tend to stick to single and double bets, as there more selections there are, generally the more of an advantageous position the bookmakers are in (as they include an inbuilt profit margin into their odds for each contest which is compounded when there are multiple selections). In the USA and abroad, exactas and trifectas (forecasts and tricasts) are more common.


Within this horse racing section, there is plenty of valuable information that can help guide punters down the right path when it comes to betting on horses. However, a few essentials that can be bullet pointed are:

  • Understand the importance of value. Calculate what odds you think your fancy should be and only bet on it if the horse is a bigger price
  • Use a disciplined and recorded betting bank
  • Assess all variables surrounding a race; draw, pace, trainer form, sire preferences, ground conditions.

There are literally dozens of bookmakers who accept bets on horse races. Choosing a firm who offer a Best Odds Guaranteed concession (all of the major firms such as Bet365, Ladbrokes, William Hill etc.) will help enhance returns. Browse around the horse racing section here at Sports Betting Online and get yourself educated on all aspects of horse racing betting.

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