Betting At The Racecourse

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Betting At The Racecourse

Betting on course can be daunting for newcomers but it needn’t be. It is actually a very fun and thrilling process and it can be very rewarding if you make the right selections.

Your Options

Tote BookmakersYou are mostly faced with the choice of betting with the on course bookies or the Tote when you are at the races. There is no exact science as to which offers the better odds although the Tote can sometimes be better for bigger odds selections than shorter odds selections. The Tote also offers a bigger choice of bet types, you can read more about the bet types they offer here.

It is also worth noting that the Tote is no longer available at all courses, some offer a rival service to the Tote such as Ripon (RiponBet) and Chester (ChesterBet).

Shopping Around

Cheltenham SceneIf you decide you want to place your bet on the race with the on course bookies you will still have a wide choice regarding who you place your bet with. Depending on the quality of the meeting you have attended you could have anywhere between 10 and 100 on course bookies all offering similar odds.

Generally you’ll want to have a quick look at the odds available on your selection with all or most of the bookies and you’ll place your bet with the bookie offering the best odds. Sometimes one bookie will be a standout price, sometimes they’ll all or mostly be the same price.

Beware Lesser Each Way Terms

It is not always just about price with on course bookmakers though. Whereas online bookies are generally forced to offer standard each way terms based on the type of race and number of runners, on course bookies are not and will often offer worse each way terms than you are used to online. For example in a 16 runners handicap you might find that many on course bookies pay the 4 places but only at a 1/5 of the odds rather than a 1/4. You may want to take slightly shorter odds in some cases if it means getting better each way terms.

It is also worth noting that some bookies will be betting win only, whatever the type of race. They are likely to be offering better odds on the bigger priced runners than other bookies as they don’t have to worry about paying out on the place. If you are planning a win only bet sometimes it is better to seek these bookies out.

Placing Your Bet

Once you have decided which bookie you are going to bet with you’ll probably have to queue and then when it's your turn the bookie will want you to tell them which number horse you are backing and what your stake is. If you stick to that you’ll hand over your cash and be handed a ticket. The ticket will contain details of the bookie you’ve placed the bet with, the horse, its odds and the potential payouts. You are advised to double check your ticket before walking away.

If the horse wins (or places if you’ve backed it each way), return to that bookie, queue up again, hand over the ticket and you’ll receive your payout.

Betting Without The Favourite

Cheltenham, OLBG Mares Hurdle 2013, QuevegaIn some races some of the on course bookies might decide to offer a slightly different market than usual in order to attract more bets than they might have done if they had offered a regular betting market on all the runners.

This will most commonly be when there is a very short priced favourite. In this case some bookies will offer betting without the favourite. In this case you are totally disregarding the favourite from the race and betting on a horse to either win the race outright or finish second to the favourite.

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Comments from the Forum

  • monkeytennis

    Is on course bookmaking a dying art? Do you get better or worse value at the races than betting at home?

    Betting At The Racecourse

    Anything related to betting at the racecourse that isn’t covered above? Let us know what you are unsure about and we’ll add it to the lesson above.


    No mention of bookies min stakes / note liabilities

    Pool bets min 2 on course.

    Many Bookies are not adhering to the standard each way terms on course some will lay only 1/6 a place instead of 1/5 or offer Win Only.

    Racecourse policies- The use of mobile phones and laptops for gaming purposes in the Betting Ring and Sports Betting Hall is not permitted.
  • mazeymay

    Quite recently at Sandown I walked along the lines of bookies in the regular grandstand and noticed some were offering 1/6th and 1/7th the odds for each way backers and in one race of nine runners the fav was 4/5 and they were calling out WIN ONLY on this race.Back in the members enclosure were the regular high street and online bookies and the odds and each way terms were of the norm.

    I love attending the races, nothing like a decent meeting to get stuck into, but unfortunately it is very hard to make profits on course after expenditure, as I highlighted in an earlier blog. "Come Racing".
    Attendances are rapidly falling, so much for Racing 4 Change.
  • butcher84

    \"Racecourse policies- The use of mobile phones and laptops for gaming purposes in the Betting Ring and Sports Betting Hall is not permitted.\"

    Although im pretty sure they cant stop you though? everyone has access to the internet in there pocket now cant see how they could even think of policing that, times change move with them or get left behind

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  • When You Go To The Races Where Do You Place Your Bets?
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    With The Tote
    With On Course Bookmakers

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