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Betting In Running on Horse Racing

Due to the emergence of betting exchanges as a major player, if not THE major player in the gambling industry, the capacity for individuals to profit from horse racing has increased significantly. Whilst this can be partially be attributed to the improved odds and competition between bookmakers, the ability of bettors to back horses to lose and bet in running on exchanges is probably more of causal factor.

Plethora of Opportunities

The function of being able to bet on horses to both win and lose and strike the bets during the running of a race opens up a plethora of opportunities and angles to ‘trade’ horses in a manner akin to the financial markets.

Those with a ‘city’ background have obviously had an advantage when it comes to pre-race trading, but betting in running requires more than a keen eye for the way the market is likely to shift. We take a look at the software that you should use if taking up betting in-running, look at the potential barriers and challenges faced and then the strategies that should be used.


Betfair is the dominant betting exchange and has the vast majority of market share. As a result, there is the most liquidity here. In recent years, Betfair have introduced ‘premium charges’ taking up to 60% of profits for their most successful customers.

This has left many disillusioned, but between a rock and a hard place as they cannot get their bet sizes matched elsewhere. Betdaq are the main market competition but still lack Betfair’s customer base.

Get an API

Whilst punters can bet in running by simply going through the betting exchange websites, this is not recommended.

There are several firms that offer API (Application Programming Interface) software. These are specially designed programs that work in conjunction with the exchanges and let the users access the markets faster and perform a whole host of different trading strategies with the click of a button.

The most popular and comprehensive on the market are:

These sophisticated pieces of software can significantly enhance performance when betting in running. On the betting exchange websites, if users want to strike a bet they have to click on the selection, insert their stake, have it checked and then submit.

Obviously when betting in running, speed is crucial and the API’s offer a one click solution, where a predetermined stake can be placed on a horse with the click of just one button.

In running trading strategies can be automated, stop losses can be imposed and advanced graphs and models can be analysed.

In short, if you are trying to bet in running and are not using an API, you are effectively bringing a knife to a gunfight. They take a while to get the hang of, but are relatively inexpensive and have test modes so users can hone their skills.

Picture Speed

An absolutely crucial element of betting in running on horse racing is picture speed. It is essential to know, and to factor into in running strategy.

The pictures that people are watching on AtTheRaces or RacingUK at home, are not ‘live’. In fact, they are up to several sections behind the action. When betting in running, this is extremely significant.

Take for instance a 5f sprint. 1f (circa 200metres) is generally covered in around 11 seconds. This means for every second the punter at home is behind, the horses will have run around 18metres.

Once you are getting into the 5-6 second bracket that is a full half furlong (100metres) behind live. Let’s take a look at the different picture providers:

  • AtTheRaces – The slowest and can often be several seconds behind.
  • RacingUK – Quicker than AtTheRaces, but still a few seconds slow.
  • SIS – Used in betting shops, but usually 1.5 seconds slow.
  • Turf TV – Similar to SIS.

Over the last decade, a number of ‘exchange shops’ have popped up. These generally offer computer terminals, with access to seeing TurfTV and SIS pictures. As mentioned, these are still way behind live pictures.

At racecourses around the country, there are individuals operating out of private boxes on course, who have access to betting exchanges and live action as it unfolds. This gives them a massive advantage.

The slower pictures broadcast through the TV channels can be used to bet in running successfully, but it is just vital that the bettor understands the odds they are seeing on betting sites do not directly correlate to what they can see – it is what is happening in a few seconds time.

Know Your Horses

A key to successful punting is to know the horses in a race, their preferences, idiosyncrasies and running styles.

From here a prediction on the shape of the race can be made. Certain horses may be inclined to come off the bridle but stay on dourly from the back of the field, whilst others may travel with zest but find little for pressure when the going gets tough and flatter to deceive.

Trying to bet in running on horse racing without having performed ‘due diligence’ on the race can be hazardous at the best of times, and disastrous at the worst. All of the necessary resources to get a handle on the form can be found in ‘An Introduction to Horse Racing‘.

Front view of horses racing on dirt track

Have a Strategy

Following on from knowing your horses, it is ideal to have identified one, or several runners in the field who appeal as bets in running. Keeping a close eye on these runners as opposed to trying to watch the whole field is more conducive to success. The main ways of operating in running are:

Back to In Running Lay

Back to In Running Lay

This method involves backing a horse pre-race and then laying it in running at lower odds to guarantee a profit. This works well for horses who often travel well.

Lay to In Running Back

Lay to In Running Back

Laying pre-race and backing at higher odds in running to guarantee a profit. This can work well with slow starting horses, or those that require lots of assistance from the saddle.

In Running Back

In Running Back

This strategy can be implemented when a bettor thinks a horse has a good chance, but either thinks that the horse will be available at bigger odds in the early stages of the race, or they want to wait to see how the contest unfolds in the early stages.

In Running Lay

In Running Lay

A good method for profiting from horses who flatter to deceive, regularly trading at low odds in running, but eventually getting beaten. The bet can be struck pre-race and ‘kept in play’, so if the horse hits the desired odds, a lay bet will be struck.

A more in depth look at these strategies can be found in our ‘Types of horses to bet in running’ article.

Try the following strategies on horse racing at one of our recommended betting sites.

Rear view of horses racing on dirt track

Get a Stopwatch

Particularly on the flat, having access to a stopwatch or timer will help to advance in running betting. Understanding the sectional times and how they have been run will assist in determining whether the field have gone off to fast, at an even pace, or a very slow one.

Typically, when races are run at a slow pace, the horses in front are at a tactical advantage as they are well positioned when the race turns into a sprint. This could give a good angle for an in running bet.

Conversely a horse may go tearing off in the lead and its odds may shorten – but if you know that its chances of lasting home are very slim, this may make a good in running lay.

Becoming good at betting in running on horse racing does not happen overnight. It is a gradual process, with skill improving through experience. As long as the bettor is aware of their time difference to live and can factor that into their methodology and strategy, then money can be made from betting in running on horse racing.