Ultimate Guide to Betting on Horses

This guide to betting on horses is just what you are looking for if you want the background to horse race betting with some great tips and strategies too.

For many, horse racing is the epitome of betting and vice versa. If you have ever been to a race course in the past, you are sure to have seen the tic-tac man, brightly dressed using hand signals to communicate the odds of various horses to potential punters. A day out at the races is simply not complete without placing a bet on the horses.

As many people inside the race course have no emotional attachment to the horses, unlike football fans for example, the excitement of the races comes from betting money on the potential winner.

A Brief History of Betting on Horses

We can trace the history of horse racing as we see it back to the 17th century. Horse racing itself goes back much further to Roman times and the 12th century. Horse racing also has strong links to royalty and this helped to promote the sport and led to development of breeding horses specifically for racing purposes.

In the 19th century, transport links, technology and the spread of information meant horse racing was being enjoyed by millions of people and newspapers started to cover the races in much greater detail. This lead to an increase in betting on horses and professional, on-course bookmakers soon began to appear.

In the early 1960’s, betting away from the race course became legalised and betting shops started to open. Some 30 years later and with increased television coverage and the arrival of the internet, online betting became the most popular way to gamble on horse racing and it continues to thrive today. Betting tips and online betting guides have become the go to sources of information for those looking to bet on horse racing.

Guide to betting on horses with bet majestic

National Hunt Racing and Flat Racing

Before betting on horses, it’s important you can distinguish between National Hunt racing and Flat racing. National Hunt racing involves jumps and horses must clear these jumps to win the race. Flat racing sees horses race across flat ground, with no obstacles.

Popular Events on Which to Bet

There are a huge number of horse races taking place throughout the year, both in the UK and the rest of the world. Thanks to modern technology, it’s possible to bet on hundreds of races in the UK, with many taking place daily. This makes betting on horses very easy to arrange. It’s also possible to place bets on horse races taking place elsewhere in Europe and further afield, such as Dubai and the USA. However, there are several events which remain the most popular for horse racing and they include the following:

Cheltenham Festival

This is the biggest racing festival in the UK and it takes place every year, usually in March. There are plenty of races held over the course of the week and you will find some great value bets available, in addition to bonus offers from bookmakers. There will be many betting tips and online betting guides published for this event, giving you great insight into the horses and their chances of winning.

Betting on horses at Royal AscotRoyal Ascot

Another fantastic festival of horse racing, Royal Ascot takes place in June each year, with races taking place across five days. Again, you can expect to see some excellent offers coming through from bookmakers during this event.

Glorious Goodwood

Staged annually in late July or early August, Glorious Goodwood is considered the sporting and social highlight of the flat racing season. This is another fantastic week of horse racing, offering the chance for punters to bet on races across five days of thrilling action.

Betting onHorses at the Grand NationalGrand National

The Grand National is the one race which captures the imagination of those who would not usually place a bet on horse racing. It has become a tradition in the UK for people to place a bet on this race, which is held at Aintree. There is much excitement leading up to the race and again, you will find a great selection of betting guides and tips available online to help you decide where to bet your money. Betting on horses at the Grand National is now a national obsession.

Epsom Derby

Commonly known as simply ‘The Derby’ this is the UK’s richest horse race and considered to be the most prestigious. The race is a great event in the sporting calendar and enjoyed live on television by people all around the world. It’s difficult not to get caught up in the excitement and place a bet on this race.

The Best Tipsters for Betting on Horses

There is so much to take into consideration when betting on horses that many successful online punters take advantage of the tipping service when placing their bets. This gives you an expert’s suggestions for the outcome of a race and the best odds to aim for to ensure value. The tipsters will use statistics that are available to you, but they also have the benefit of years of experience and knowledge of which horses perform best at particular courses, which trainers are on form and how the going makes a difference at a race track.

Win Single

This is the most common wager and involves backing a horse to win the race.


This bet allows you to bet on a horse to win and place. Therefore, if you place a £5 bet on a horse each-way, the bet will actually cost you £10, which is £5 to finish first and £5 to place. Check with the bookmaker to see what places they will pay-out on as this can differ depending on the type of race and number of horses involved.


This bet consists of 7 different wagers, which are 3 singles, 3 doubles and a treble. This can be great if you can find three races where the each-way terms offer good value.


Consisting of 4 bets, which are 3 doubles and a treble, many punters use this with horses who are fancied to run well but have short odds.


This is a bet which is very much in the bookmaker’s favour yet remains popular. A Yankee features 11 bets across 4 selections, with 6 doubles, 4 trebles and 1 four-timer.

As you can see, when learning how horse betting works, there are a some factors to consider. The type of horse racing event, whether it be National Hunt or Flat, where the event is taking place and the type of bet you would like to place.

Tips to Help Betting on Horse Racing

You can use an online betting guide or betting tips to pick your selections when betting on horses but it’s wise to complete your own research. The following tips will help you when betting on horse racing:

  1. Read the race day program
  2. Find out what class the horse has been racing at recently
  3. Look at the past performance of the horse on similar surfaces
  4. Form of the jockey
  5. Do the odds represent good value?
  6. Is the weather changing?
  7. How is the horse behaving in the paddock? Is raring to go or does it look lethargic?

Horse Racing Trading and Betting Systems

With a solid understanding of how horse betting works, it’s time to look at trading and betting systems.

In truth, horse racing betting systems do not have a great history of success. Horses are animals after all and on the day, anything can happen. It is better to use the information on the internet to form your own opinion and although a methodical system can be a good approach, you should not rely on it for long term profit. Using the tipsters mentioned above is a fairly safe betting system, because they have great access to the statistics, but also specific knowledge from the yards and jockeys, which can be harder to come by.

Dutching in Horse Betting

There are many betting systems available for horse racing but one of the most popular is Dutching. This involves betting on more than one horse to win in a single race and thus guaranteeing a profit, as long as one of your selections wins. This is the best system to use when you have identified several strong runners in a race, but can’t quite choose which you think will win. Obviously, it is not as simple as that, otherwise everyone would be doing it to make money and herein lies the problem. Firstly, you must find a race where the odds for the horses taking part allow you to bet on them and make a profit. You cannot simply place a £5 bet on four horses, expecting to make a profit at the end of the race. You must take the odds for the horses and work out a stake for each of them, which will not necessarily be the same, to decide if Dutching will work for that race. It requires patience but you can use an online Dutching calculator, which will help you with the maths.

This is just one example of a popular horse racing betting systems and there are many others out there which you can try.

Lay the Field Horse Betting System

Another popular strategy for betting on horses in known as the “Lay the Field” system. You need to have an account with one of the betting exchanges and then, when you have located a suitable race, simply lay everybody.

There are many different variations to the lay the field plan, but the simplest is to lay every horse at slightly less than 2.0. This keeps the liabilities more manageable and, as long as you pick the right races, allows  for a reasonable success rate.

The easiest way to look at this strategy is with an example.

Choose a race with between 6-14 horses. On Betfair, lay every horse at 1.75 for £10.00. This means that the liability you have on the horse is £7.50. In other words, if the horse ends up winning (which one of them will), you will pay out £7.50 on that horse.

Make sure that you set the bets to “keep in play” so that they remain in place after the horse race starts. This is very important. You should set up your bets in good time before the race to avoid any last minute problems.

The chances are that none of your lay bets will be matched pre race, so stay calm and wait for the race to start. Once the bets are placed and set to keep, there is nothing else for you to do.

As the race begins, you will see that all of the odds are fluctuating. Moving up and down as the horse performs.

As the race goes on, Dobbin pulls into the lead. His odds have come down and the lay bet you placed at 1.75 gets matched. In other words, another online punter is prepared to back the horse at 1.75.

The current position is that if Dobbin wins, we lose £7.50, but if any other horse wins, we win £10.00

Then, as so often happens, the leader starts to slow.He has tired and Donkey picks up the pace. Donkey’s odds drop and your 1.75 lay on him gets matched too. Now, if Dobbin or Donkey win, we get £2.50. If any other horse wins, we get £20.00.

We have greened up by simply matching 2 lay bets. Happy Days.

But it can get even better at times. In a really close race, a 3rd horse may come into the reckoning. This time, Horses Head made a good late showing and was also backed by some one at 1.75. Our lay bet was matched.

Now, if Horses Head, Donkey or Dobbin win, we collect £12.50. If (unlikely) any other horse wins without our 1.75 being matched, we will win £30.00.

The only problem with this system occurs when one horse takes the lead and then goes on to dominate the race, with no one else going close. Suppose that Dobbin took the lead and then accelerated on without tiring. He would be the only lay bet matched and you would lose £7.50 on the race.

The benefit of the system is that you always know your maximum liability, because you can only lose one bet. Potentially, you can win many.

To reduce the risk of this, choose races where there are at least 6 runners and there is no very clear favourite. Best to have at least 2 or 3 horses close together in the pre match odds. This indicates that the race should be close and not dominated by 1 horse. Generally, this system works best on flat races too.


Betting on horse racing is something which is enjoyed by millions of people around the world. With so many races to choose from, often up to 30 daily, you will always find betting opportunities. It’s a good idea to use an online betting guide and betting tips before placing your wager but also take time to conduct your own research. With an understanding of the odds and the popular horse racing betting markets, you can employ a betting strategy, such as Dutching, lay the field, or come up with your own method using the tips above. Most importantly however, stick to betting what you can afford and have fun.

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