How to Place a Bet on Horse Racing

Horse racing is a sport rich in history and tradition, and has captured the hearts of fans worldwide for centuries. In the UK, horse racing is more than just a pastime – it is a cultural phenomenon. In this Gambling Zone specialist guide, we will walk you through the basics of how the sport works, and how to place a bet on horse racing.

Online Betting in Horse Racing: Step-by-Step Guide

In this section, we will guide you through the process of betting on horse racing online, from opening an account to placing your bet. Once you have decided which horse you want to back and honed your strategy, follow these straightforward steps. Discover how to navigate the racing card, understand the information it provides, and then translate that data into your betting slip.

Open a New Account and Deposit

The first step in online horse racing betting is to create an account with a reputable bookmaker or betting platform from the sites we have listed above. You will need to provide some personal details and set up a secure login. After your account is established, you are ready to deposit funds. This is typically done using payment methods like debit cards, e-wallets, or bank transfers.

Find the Race you Want to Bet On

Once your account is set up and funded, it is time to choose the specific race you want to bet on. Most betting platforms provide a list of upcoming races, and you can browse through them. If you know what race you are looking for then use the menu to find it. We recommend looking for the meeting that your horse is racing at so you can see all the races held at that racecourse that day. Many betting sites also include a search feature where you can enter the name of the race, or horse which may be the easiest route.

Inspect The Racecard

Understanding the racecard is crucial. It provides detailed information about each horse and the race itself. You will find data such as the horse's name, jockey, trainer, age, weight, and recent race performances as well as how the track is looking. The racecard also includes key statistics like the horse's form (recent results), odds, and more. It can look like a lot of information, but you should familiarise yourself with these details to make an informed decision. For example if your horse does not perform well on a heavy going track due to weather changes, you may wish to select a different runner.

Pick Your Horse

Once you have reviewed the racecard it is time to choose the horse you want to bet on. Consider factors like the horse's form, the jockey's reputation, the track conditions, and your overall strategy. When you are happy with this click on the odds section to add it to your betslip.

Place Your Bet

Now it is time to place your bet. Open the betslip where you have added your horse and specify the type of bet (e.g., win, place, each way), the amount you want to stake, and confirm your selection. The betting site will then provide a betting slip summarising your bet. Review the details on the slip to ensure they match your intentions. Once you are satisfied, confirm the bet, and you are in action.

Different Types of Horse Races

Horse racing comes in various forms, each with its unique charm and challenges. Here we explore the primary types of horse races:

National Hunt Horse Racing

Also referred to as jump racing, national hunt races are not for the weak. Horses navigate courses with hurdles, fences, and water jumps, at high speeds. Held predominantly in winter, these races test the most established of jockeys with weather often affecting the running. The Cheltenham Festival stands as the pinnacle of jump racing and it is celebrated around the world. The festival includes races like the Cheltenham Gold Cup, plus other Grade 1 races with substantial prize pools, making it a focal point for fans and bettors alike.

Flat Horse Racing

Flat horse racing, as the name suggests, takes place on level tracks and challenges horses with different distances. Flat races mostly run in the summer months and are a blend of sprints and long-distance races. Jockeys have to strategically position themselves and hold pace to make timely moves for a win. The season is concluded with the esteemed Royal Ascot Festival; a prestigious event where regal sophistication mixes with intense competition. Purses for races go into the hundreds of thousands of pounds, and it is a must on any horse racing fan's calendar.

All-Weather Racing

All-weather racing offers consistent action on synthetic tracks. Whether rain or snow, these tracks ensure uninterrupted competition, attracting bettors year-round. This innovation bridges seasons, spotlighting adaptability and adding an exciting dimension to the racing calendar.

Endurance Horse Racing

A true test of stamina, endurance races push both horse and jockey to their limits. These races cover long distances, often spanning 50 miles or more. The focus is on the horse's ability to maintain a steady pace over the course. You will not find these on the books too often, but odds can be found on specialist sites.

Harness Horse Racing

In this type of race, horses pull a two-wheeled cart while the jockey guides them. The pace is fast and furious, emphasising speed and coordination. Harness racing showcases the skill of both horse and driver in a display of teamwork. It is not common in the UK but it is highly popular across Europe.

Popular Types of Bets in Horse Racing

If you are new to horse racing then the betting terms can be overwhelming. In the beginning, we advise you to stick to basic bets which are easy to understand, before moving to complex system bets. Here are the most common types of bets you can place.

Win Bet

A straightforward bet where you pick the horse you believe will win the race. If your chosen horse crosses the finish line first, you win.

Each Way Betting

This is a combination bet. Part of your wager goes on your chosen horse to win, and the other part goes on the horse to place (usually finish in the top few positions). The place part comes with reduced odds, usually ¼ or ⅕.

Single Bet

A simple bet on a single horse to win or place.

Multiple Horses Betting

Also known as an accumulator or parlay bet, this involves betting on the outcome of multiple races. All selections must win for your bet to be successful, offering higher potential rewards.

Ante-post betting

This involves betting ahead of the race day. For festivals, such as Cheltenham, races can be priced up to a year in advance. The advantage is that you might get fantastic odds for a horse that could drop significantly before the event. On the other hand, there is no guarantee that the horse will enter the race, in which case your bet is considered lost.

Understanding the Horse Racing Card

To truly engage in horse racing betting, understanding the racing card and its abbreviations is essential as they can provide crucial information about a horse's performance. Look for these beside a horse's previous runs to get an idea of how the horse might behave.

Pulled-Up (PU/P)

The horse's jockey voluntarily stopped the horse during the race.

Unseated (UR/U)

The jockey fell off the horse during the race.

Void Race (V)

The race didn't take place for some reason, and bets are typically refunded.

Refused (R)

The horse refused to jump an obstacle.

Outside first 10 (0)

The horse finished outside the top 10 positions.

C&D winner

The horse has previously won on the same race track at the same distance.

Horse Racing Online Betting

Betting on horse racing has become more accessible than ever with online platforms. With just a few clicks, you can place bets, follow the action, and potentially win big – all from the comfort of your own home.

As the digital world intertwines with this traditional sport, online betting enhances the thrill of horse racing, making it an enticing opportunity for both seasoned bettors and newcomers alike. So, saddle up, explore the various betting options, and venture into the world of horse racing. Remember, responsible gambling ensures the enjoyment of the sport without undue risk.

Best Horse Racing Betting Sites

Here is our recommended list of the best horse racing online betting sites that you can find in the UK.


8.8 / 10

100% up to £50
Welcome offer

18+. New bettors; Code SPORT; Wager deposit & bonus 8x; Max qualifying bet stake=initial bonus; Valid 60 days; Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply; T&Cs apply.

Mr. Play Sport

8.9 / 10

Bet £10 Get £15

18+. New customers only. Max one £15 Free Bet. Qualifying Bet must be placed at odds of 1/1 (2.00) or greater and be settled within 14 days of placement. Paid as a Bonus Token with min 4/5 odds required. Skrill, Neteller & Paypal not eligible. Full T&Cs apply.

Grosvenor Casino Sports

9.1 / 10

Double your Odds
On Any Sport

18+. New Customers Only. Max £10 (Excl Paypal). 100% Odds Boost Token. T&Cs apply.

Popular Horse Racing Tournaments

Throughout the racing calendar certain horse racing events hold a special place in the hearts of fans and bettors. These tournaments stand out for their unique attributes, significant prize money, and a rich history of excellence, creating a sense of anticipation that builds steadily as the event approaches.

Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby, often called the "Run for the Roses," is America's premier horse race. It stands out with its rich history, the world-famous mint juleps, and a purse that attracts the finest Thoroughbreds. This iconic race marks the first leg of the American Triple Crown, making it a focal point for fans and bettors, with the Kentucky Derby itself a high-stakes spectacle.

The Grand National

The Grand National in the UK is known for its sheer endurance and heart-stopping jumps. This is the world's most famous steeplechase, featuring challenging obstacles and a massive following. The purse, the number of runners and the unpredictability of the race create significant betting attraction.

Epsom Derby

The Epsom Derby, often hailed as the "Greatest Flat Race in the World," showcases the best of flat racing. Three-year-old colts and fillies contend for victory on this iconic track, spanning a challenging distance of 1 mile, 4 furlongs, and 6 yards. This renowned event boasts legendary winners, including Lester Piggott, a jockey who clinched the Derby an astonishing nine times.

Melbourne Cup

The Melbourne Cup, Australia's racing jewel, combines fashion and excitement. This two-mile handicap race is an integral part of the country's cultural calendar. A substantial purse and its status as "the race that stops a nation" make it a betting magnet.

Royal Ascot

Royal Ascot stands at the pinnacle of British social and horse racing culture. This prestigious event showcases top-class flat racing, from the King's Stand Stakes to the Gold Cup. With its royal patronage, remarkable fashion, and unparalleled quality, it is must on all horse racing fans calendars.

Cheltenham Festival

Cheltenham Festival is the mecca of jump racing, offering the famous Cheltenham Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle. Its allure lies in the Grade 1 races, fierce competition, and avid fan base. The festival's reputation as the "Olympics of jump racing" ensures a significant betting following with bookmakers classing it as an event that can make or break their year.

Dubai World Cup

The Dubai World Cup is a lavish spectacle in the world of horse racing. It features the world's most opulent purse, currently set at a staggering $12 million, drawing top international talent. This grand event spans a single day and includes a series of high-stakes races that capture global attention. Known for its glamorous setting and worldwide recognition, it is a focal point for horse racing bettors and fans alike.

Breeders Cup

The Breeders' Cup is a two-day horse racing festival, where North America showcases the world's finest Thoroughbreds. Held at different tracks across the states each year, it features multiple Grade 1 races. The highlight of the festival is the Breeders' Cup Classic, known for its substantial purse and as the pinnacle of the event. Its capacity to attract elite runners and international attention makes it a must-watch.

Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe

The Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe is one of the most prestigious middle-distance turf races in Europe, renowned for bringing together the world's finest turf horses. Held annually in France on the first Sunday in October, it offers an impressive purse. This illustrious event has seen many famous horses etch their names into history, including legendary horses like Sea-Bird and Treve, both two-time winners of the race.

Preakness Stakes

The Preakness Stakes is a distinct race and one of the three jewels in the American Triple Crown series, making it unique among horse racing events. Held in May at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland, it follows closely on the heels of the Kentucky Derby. The race covers a distance of 1 3/16 miles (about 9.5 furlongs) and is known for its unique traditions, including the presentation of the prestigious Woodlawn Vase, adding to its distinctive appeal.

Belmont Stakes

The third and final leg of the American Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes, holds the esteemed title of the "Test of the Champion." It stands out for its gruelling distance of 1.5 miles (12 furlongs), the longest of the Triple Crown races, and its potential to crown a Triple Crown winner, a feat achieved by only 13 horses in history. The most recent Triple Crown winner was Justify in 2018, marking a momentous achievement.

Pegasus World Cup

Introduced in 2017, the Pegasus World Cup is a remarkable innovation in horse racing. This is held at Gulfstream Park in Florida annually. What sets it apart is the pioneering approach: owners pay a significant entry fee for their horse's spot in the race, resulting in a colossal purse and an intriguing betting dynamic. This unique concept reflects the ever-evolving nature of horse racing.

Horse Racing Responsible Gambling

When betting on horse racing, it is important to bet within your means. Betting should add to your enjoyment of the sport, not overshadow it. Before you start, look for betting limits and responsible gambling tools on betting sites and set these up. At Gambling Zone, we take responsible gambling seriously and only recommend sites that meet our standards.

Your well-being and enjoyment of horse racing go hand in hand, so savour every race while making sure that betting remains a safe and responsible pastime.

Horse Racing Betting FAQs

Here are the most common questions we get asked about Horse Racing Betting in the UK.

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