Betting On Horse Racing In Running

Updated: 9332 Learning

Discover the concept of in-running betting in horse racing. This guide unpacks strategies for beginners to pros whilst also comparing the benefits of betting exchanges over bookmakers.

Betting On Horse Racing In Running
Nigel Skinner Blog Content Manager

Football Manager Expert and Political Betting Specialist across Exchange and Spread Betting Sites

Horse Racing In Running

Embark on mastering in-running betting on horse races. This comprehensive guide provides essential insights for both novice and seasoned bettors. From foundational knowledge to intricate strategies like 'back to lay' and 'lay to back,' enhance your betting game and understand why opting for a betting exchange could be your winning ticket.

Expert Tips to Triumph in Horse Racing In-Running Betting 🏇📈

🏇 Dive into our ultimate guide to Horse Racing In-Running Betting! Master the basics, level up with pro strategies, and learn why exchanges win over bookies. Ready to bet and win? Read on 📈🏆

In Running Horse Racing Betting

You have three options when betting in running on horse racing: 

  • Back
  • Lay 
  • Trade

In Running Racing Style

The racing style of a horse can often mean that it trades bigger than it should. You can check the comments on how the horse has run previously on many horse racing websites. Simply being a hold-up horse probably doesn’t ensure that a horse trades bigger in running, as everyone can see from its form that it is a hold-up horse. However, horses that get behind in their races and come off the bridle earlier than others can trade much bigger in running. The horses most likely to trade short and get beaten in racing are so-called ‘bridle horses’. These horses travel well throughout a race but find little when the jockey gets serious. There are also horses that do nothing when they hit the front, and when a horse looks like it is going to win but often fails to, then that can be a good candidate for laying in running.  

A 2/1 favourite might have a great chance of winning a race and that the 2/1 is a fair price but you should also consider what price you might get in running. It wouldn’t take much for the horse to trade bigger than 2/1 in running unless it gains an early advantage; even being at the back of the field might cause the horse to hit 5/1 in running even if it is still going relatively well. The position of a horse in the race and how it travels will usually dictate the in running odds offered. 

Front Runners

Many bettors follow services that highlight front runners in an effort to back the horse and then lay in running.

In Running Pace Of The Race 

The pace at which a race is being run can also determine whether or not a horse is a good in running back bet. If you can see that a race is being run at a furious gallop, then you’d want to be looking at hold-up horses, as in running bets. If a race has thrown up a few horses that like to be prominent, then this could cause the horses to burn themselves out when they are taking each other on for the lead. The pace of a race is one of the most critical factors in deciding which horse wins, and laying those that are not favoured by the way the race is run can be profitable. You don’t want to be laying at too big odds, though, so finding races where a fancied favourite that is a frontrunner faces plenty of competition for the lead could make a good lay. If that horse doesn’t get the lead it requires after a furlong or two, it is probably time to lay it, and it should still be relatively short odds in the betting. Similar sentiments apply to fancied hold-up horses that require a strong pace to run at. If you notice the horse isn’t getting this during the race, it could be a good opportunity to lay the horse. If the race is a "big race" in the calendar, then it is likely that the OLBG betting experts will have created a betting blog which may highlight how previous renewals were run and could indicate how this year's race will unfold.

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Cheltenham Gold Cup Preview, Tips, Runners & Trends (Cheltenham Festival)

Qipco 2000 Guineas Preview, Tips, Runners & Trends (Guineas Festival)

Qipco 2000 Guineas Preview, Tips, Runners & Trends (Guineas Festival)

If the race is being run at a crawl, then the horses that are racing prominently will be advantaged, so they should be considered as in running backs. The commentator typically indicates if the runners are "not hanging about" or "crawling along."

If you are unsure how a race is going to be run, it can pay to pick out your fancied hold-up horse and your fancied prominent racer and back whichever one looks like it is being favoured by the way the race is being run after two or three furlongs.

Form Based In Running Horse Racing

If you are someone who studies horse racing form then you may be perfectly placed to take advantage of in running bets. Lets say you like a particular horse to win the race but you do not like the odds on offer. You could wait to see if the horse reaches your price target in running. 

Speed Figures

Some well known speed figure websites offer a service that highlights the "fastest horse in the race". Taking into account going conditions, weight carried, draw, past performances. Members who have used these services seem keen that the figures are worth following with the shorter distance races seemingly more accurate for finding future winners. We regularly see tipping comments in the OLBG horse racing tipping competition related to speed figures of particular horses. 

Race Distance

A three mile National Hunt race at Carlisle as opposed to a five furlong sprint at Ascot will give you more time to place your in play bets. You will also have faster variations of odds on shorter races then you do on longer races. Some in running bettors swerve shorter distance races because the risk of getting it wrong and being unable to rectify your position will not be possible.

Poor Jumpers

If a horse has an F in its form history then you know its jumping may be suspect, or you may have seen the horse jump previously and know it is not a natural,  this could offer laying opportunities. Check whether the course is regarded as a stiff jumping test such as Aintree or one where there are less fallers such as Worcester


In the UK in 2023 outright favourites won 34% of all races. However you need to remember that the in running prices of those 34% would have fluctuated heavily.


Both pre race and in play statistics should be collated to give you a better understanding of how the market performs.Many sites offer data on horse racing from previous races so you can view what its pre race odds were and what prices it hit in running. In the example below you can see how big the horse was available at and how when nearly winning the race what odds were on offer. There will be 000's of these examples of huge in play odds both with the bookies and the exchanges. 

HorseIn Play MinimumIn Play MaximumFinishing PositionStarting PriceComments
Staar1.4840.002nd25/1Tracked leaders, pushed along and led before 3 out, ridden and headed narrowly 2 out, soon drew clear with one other, rallied and led again after last, kept on, no extra and headed narrowly closing stages.

Getting Matched In Running

When you place a bet in running you will not always get your stake matched at the price or the amount you wanted. In such fast moving in running markets prices change in milliseconds.  

What price would Red Rum have been in running?

In Running Horse Racing Trading

All of the above require your selections to either win or lose, depending if you have backed them or layed them, but there are also ways to make money from trading runners in running.

This requires backing or laying a horse before the race and then laying or backing it during the race. 

How to Effectively Use a Betting Exchange: The Ultimate Guide

How to Effectively Use a Betting Exchange: The Ultimate Guide

You can only lay horses in running via an exchange (Betfair, Betdaq, Matchbook, Smarkets but can of course mix and match by backing on the bookies and laying on an exchange. 

We have a full list of the best betting sites for horse racing which include betting exchanges.

Best Horse Racing Betting Sites

Best Horse Racing Betting Sites

I looked at random 2 mile National Hunt horse race in February 2024 to highlight the in running variations over the race. 

HorseOddsOddsOddsOddsFinishedStarting Price
Treaty Boy2.782.983.054.12nd3.00
Chase A Fortune3.953.652.241.631st3.50
Beat The Edge5.8138.263rd5
Go Fox17.58.850705th11
Getaway Jewel38361001407th26
Treshnish10027010001000Pulled Up67

You can see during the race that the winner was consistently supported, however there would have been further variations between my screenshots of the race.

In running Beat The Edge was available as you can see at 13.0, a swift back and then lay of that horse would have given you a value free bet, despite that horse not winning. 

A lay of Treaty Boy at 2.78 could then he have been backed at 4.1, another successful trade. 

All you need to do for this is identify a horse that will trade at significantly different odds to those on offer.

Betfair Tips and Hacks To Help You Win

Betfair Tips and Hacks To Help You Win

If looking to back to lay you want a horse that is going to trade shorter in running so horses getting an easy lead or bridle horses would be good for this.

If looking to lay to back you want a horse that is going to trade bigger in running so runners that might come off the bridle early or might get behind in the race would be suitable choices.

As long as the odds trade as you expect and you get your bets matched (picking the right odds to lay off at can be crucial) then you will make a profit.

When you make the trades it gives you the opportunity to have a free bet OR you can green up using an exchange which is explained below.

Please note with horse racing in running you will need to be much quicker with the calculation OR use a service that automatically greens up via one click. 

Horse Racing In Running TV Pictures

If you are sitting at home watching a race on TV, the pictures you are watching are probably somewhere between 5 and 10 seconds behind what is happening at the course. The Betfair live video service states: ‘Live’ pictures are typically delayed by 2-5 seconds. For some sports, the delay may be longer.

Anyone betting in running at the course will have a massive advantage over those doing the same at home, so if some seemingly bizarre odds appear, it could be because something has happened that you won’t be aware of for another 5 seconds or so.

With the advent of drones hovering over many race courses, many who are betting in running on horse racing and using a drone service will always have faster pictures than the average in play bettor. You always need to be aware of this delay, but you can take steps to mitigate this. 

Having studied the form and the betting, you should have an inkling of which horses will run well and which will run poorly. Now, you will only sometimes get this right, and if you are solely betting in running, then you need to factor this in. This knowledge that you have built up on horse racing will set you apart from other in-play bettors; many are just trading the figures on the screen and have no clue about horse racing; that is where you can prosper even with delayed pictures. 

Ultimately, the streaming speed of pictures will get faster with GPS providers and FTTP, which is ultrafast broadband, and that on-course in-play advantage will shrink.

Best Bookmakers For Live Streaming

Best Bookmakers For Live Streaming

Horse Racing In Running Summary

There are many advantages to betting in running, as well as pitfalls. You will often be able to take better odds than the pre-race market. You can watch how a  horse race starts and unfolds. You can react to events on the track. You can place numerous in-running bets and close bets by trading out. The pitfalls include delayed pictures, lack of time to react, and unpredictability of horses!  

Top In-Play Betting Sites in the UK for 2024: A Guide to the Best Live-Betting Bookmakers

Top In-Play Betting Sites in the UK for 2024: A Guide to the Best Live-Betting Bookmakers

This checklist should prompt you when betting in running on horses. 

  • Be free of distractions when betting in running.
  • Be wary of losing your internet connection, think of the worst-case scenario with in running bets.
  • Be wary of spoof money indicating that the horse is fancied/no hoper.
  • Be wary of trainers with two or more runners in the race.
  • Be wary of withdrawn horses just before the off.
  • Check the comments when the horse ran previously.
  • Check the pre off betting market for clues.
  • Check which horses are normally held up.
  • Check which horses have previously front run/been held up.
  • Decide if you are going to back or lay or both.
  • Do not overexpose your betting position.
  • Do your form study.
  • Gamble responsibly.
  • Have a choice of bookmakers available.
  • Just watching the in running markets should not be seen as wasted time but as a learning tool.
  • Know how the going affects the track.
  • Know how the track rides.
  • Know there will always be someone with faster pictures than yourself.
  • Know what significance the draw has on past results.
  • Learn to scratch in running (meaning you close an in running bet having neither won nor lost).
  • Make sure any in running bet is matched.
  • Not all races will offer in running opportunities.
  • Treat with caution steamers/drifters.
  • Utilise sites that allow one click betting whilst in running.


  • What does in-running betting mean?

    To bet in-running is to make a bet once and event has begun - Once an event has started the event goes “in play”. You can place bets on many “in play” markets, you are then betting in play.

  • What is Live betting?

    Live betting another term for in play or in running betting, this term is often used on USA online sportsbook sites and apps. 

  • What are the advantages of betting live?

    When you undertake betting live in-play it can often give you a better chance of finding the winner. You are able to assess the situation of the event in real-time and make decisions based on the very latest action

  • What are the disadvantages of betting live?

    It is riskier as a sudden, unexpected occurrence can scupper your bet. Even the best-researched bets can suffer due to the unpredictability of sports.

  • Do I need to be at my computer?

    If you are not attending the event, you should be at your computer or at least have instant access to your betting account. Events can change rapidly. If you are not there to take affirmative action, what was a winning bet can quickly become a losing one.  

  • In Running Outage

    Although broadband connectivity (In the UK) has become more reliable, most of us who bet regularly will have experienced an outage - this is a problem with your provider’s network that causes you to lose your internet connection. 

    Very occasionally, your bookmaker or betting exchange also goes offline.

    You need to factor this in when placing in running bets as if either of the above happens, you may not have enough time to close your bet or make alternative arrangements. 

    This could result in a hefty loss of your funds. 


Gamble Responsibly

When betting in running on horses or any sport please do gamble responsibly. On OLBG we have always advocated that you should be responsible and never bet more than you can afford. The following articles were written to assist you with this approach. 

How to be Sensible and Gamble Responsibly (Examples)

How to be Sensible and Gamble Responsibly (Examples)

Responsible Gambling Features, Function and Help

Responsible Gambling Features, Function and Help


OLBG Betting Expert Nigel Skinner has been betting on horses in running since the concept was introduced. He has won and lost in running horse racing bets but has learnt a huge amount on the journey. His insight into in running horse racing betting we hope readers find helpful. 

Nigel Skinner

Nigel Skinner

Blog content manager

Nigel is one of OLBG's senior editors with 19 years of industry experience. Today he specialises in researching and writing about the betting angles to political and mainstream news stories and being the OLBG in-house expert on 'next football manager' betting markets.

Specialist Subjects🔬📚

⚽️👨‍💼 Nigel is an Arsenal fan first and foremost but has an unrivalled knowledge of English football managers at every level. Meticulously putting together our Next Manager articles, Nigel can quite possibly name you every manager of every club in the land, not to mention a pretty good eye for predicting replacements when changes happen. 

📈📊📉 A long-time exchange trader and spread betting fan, Nigel is our go-to for advice on the subjects and uses them daily in his own betting activity. 

🗳️💼 Finally, Nigel loves his politics and [some would say] has an unhealthy interest in the day-to-day events in the UK's political landscape, contributing to all our Political betting content and new pieces.

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