Mastering Rule 4 Deductions: Your Ultimate Horse Racing Betting Deductions Companion

Updated: 4740 Learning

Discover how Rule 4 Deductions impact horse racing betting. Our comprehensive guide explains non-runner effects, Ante Post withdrawals, and Under Starters Orders rules. Learn bookie promotions that defy the rules.

Mastering Rule 4 Deductions: Your Ultimate Horse Racing Betting Deductions Companion
Andy Powell Content Editor

Horse Racing stats man, Andy has contributed to OLBG for 18 years - An Ipswich fan and F1 fanatic, he also contributes EFL football and Motor Sport opinion.

This article offers a deep dive into Rule 4 Deductions, an essential concept for bettors facing non-runner changes. From Ante Post to Under Starters Orders, we dissect the regulations and reveal bookmaker promotion that offer a way around them.

Our Rule 4 Deductions Deep Dive 📚🐎

Dive into the world of horse race betting with our Rule 4 Deductions Guide 💡🏇. Understand the impact of non-runners, Ante Post withdrawals, and more!

Rule 4 Explanation

Rule 4 Deductions

As bookies are giving punters their money back when their bet doesn't run, there have to be deductions on other bets to cover that. 

This deduction is known as a Rule 4 and explains why sometimes winning bets don't return as much as you thought they would. 

Remember that deductions only apply to the profit from your bet; your stake is not affected.

If a horse is 14/1 or bigger, the bookies don't deem it necessary to make a deduction to bets.

There will be a deduction if the withdrawn horse is 12/1 or shorter. 

The deductions for each set of odds are as follows. 

1/9 or shorter90p in the £
2/11 to 2/1785p in the £
1/4 to 1/580p in the £
3/10 to 2/775p in the £
2/5 to 1/370p in the £
8/15 to 4/965p in the £
8/13 to 4/760p in the £
4/5 to 4/655p in the £
20/21 to 5/650p in the £
Evens to 6/545p in the £
5/4 to 6/440p in the £
13/8 to 7/435p in the £
15/8 to 9/430p in the £
5/2 to 3/125p in the £
10/3 to 4/120p in the £
9/2 to 11/215p in the £
6/1 to 9/110p in the £
10/1 to 14/15p in the £
Over 14/1No Deductions

Officially you should get a 5p deduction if a horse in your race priced between 10/1 and 14/1 is a non runner, many online bookmakers are now ignoring that.  

So with those bookies you will only find a deduction to your bets if there is a non runner at shorter odds than 10/1.

However many withdrawals there are in a particular race, the bookies won't apply more than a 90p deduction to bets.

Best Horse Racing Betting Sites

Best Horse Racing Betting Sites

Rule 4 Example

You bet £10 on a horse at 4/1 at 10 am on the day of the race.

At 11 am, there is a non-runner that was priced up at 7/1 with the bookmaker you placed your bet with.

Your horse wins, and had there been no deduction, you would have been paid £40 in winnings plus your £10 stake.

The Rule 4 of 10p in the £ means 10% of your winnings are deducted. 

Therefore your bet now returns £40 x 0.9 = £36 + £10 stake = £46.

Always refer to the table above to calculate your Rule 4 deduction. 

Multiple Rule 4s

When there is a going change, or sometimes because of bad luck, you will find that several well-fancied runners are withdrawn from a particular race, resulting in multiple Rule 4 deductions being applied to the same race.

Bookies will usually apply Rule 4 based on the price of the withdrawn horse when you placed your bet; this is also the case if there are subsequent withdrawals.

This works in the backer's favour as Rule 4 might see a horse cut from 6/1 to 4/1, and then that horse could be withdrawn.

In that case, you'd only receive an additional 10p deduction on your bets for the 6/1 shot and not an additional 20p Rule 4 because the horse was cut to 4/1.

Below is a Racing Post results report from a race in 2024 where there were two non runners just before the off. 

  • 10 ran Off time: 6:34:56 Winning time: 1m 39.48s (slow by 1.28s) Total SP: 78%

  • Non-runners: Candy Warhol (vet's advice), Daafy (upset in stalls)

  • Rule 4: Daafy and Candy Warhol were withdrawn. Prices at time of withdrawal 5/2 & 5/1. Rule 4 applies to all bets - deduction 40p in the Pound.

  • Tote win: £57.80 PL: £12.30 £1.10 £5.30 Ex: £318.70 CSF: £127.80 Tricast: £1,737.55 Trifecta: £1,487.80

Do You Get Your Stake Back?

Day of Race Market

If you place a bet on a horse after the final declarations have been made and that horse doesn't run for any reason you will get your full stake back. 

We now have 48 hour declarations but most bookmakers will not price up a race more than 24 hours in advance.

Ante Post

If you back a horse in an ante post betting market and the horse doesn't run you will not receive any money back.  

The only time you will get your money back in an ante post market is if the bookmaker is offering Non Runner No Bet (NR/NB).

If the bookmaker has gone (NR/NB) it should be clearly marked near the place terms on the bet placement page.

This (NR/NB)normally only applies to the very biggest races such as the Aintree Grand National or Cheltenham Festival, and even those will have normal ante post rules until maybe a week or two before the race.

Grand National Preview, Tips, Runners & Trends (Grand National Meeting)

Grand National Preview, Tips, Runners & Trends (Grand National Meeting)

It's also worth noting that if you place an ante post bet you are guaranteed the place terms on offer at the time.

So if you are offered 4 places 1/4 odds and then 15 or fewer horse make the final declarations, bets placed after the final declarations will only get 3 places on each way bets but the 4 places are retained for ante post bets.

Each Way Betting Advantages and Pitfalls for the Shrewd Tipster

Each Way Betting Advantages and Pitfalls for the Shrewd Tipster

Best Odds Guaranteed

If the bookmaker you are betting with offers best odds guaranteed this will still apply to races when there is a Rule 4.

If the SP of your bet is bigger than the price you took minus the deduction you will be paid at SP.

Best Odds Guaranteed: Unveiling 27 UK Bookmakers availability, times, restrictions and max winnings

Best Odds Guaranteed: Unveiling 27 UK Bookmakers availability, times, restrictions and max winnings

Non Runners In Forecasts and Tricasts

The rules for non runners when you have placed a forecast or tricast varies between bookies. 

If there is one non runner in either a forecast or a tricast bet some bookies will make the bet a single on the remaining one runner at SP, and a forecast on the two remaining runners respectively whilst others will simply make the bet void. 

If all horses in the bet are non runners the bet will be void with all bookies. 

Check with each individual bookie their terms and conditions to see which ones use which method of settlement.

Non Runners With Tote Bets

If you place an exacta, trifecta or swinger with the Tote and any of the horses in the bet become non runners the bet will become void and you will receive your money back.

Your Comprehensive Guide to Tote Betting

Your Comprehensive Guide to Tote Betting

Betting Exchange Reduction Factor

Similar to the bookmakers Rule 4 is the reduction factor on betting exchanges. 

Prior to a race on a betting exchange such as Betfair, each horse is allocated a reduction factor based on its chance of winning. 

The higher the factor, the more chance it has of winning 

When a horse is a non-runner, the reduction factor will be applied to the prices of all matched bets in the race for both backers and layers. 

The reduction factors are designed to be fair to both backers and layers.

The calculation is Decimal odds /100) x reduction factor of non-runner = amount to reduce the original price by. 

You may be sitting on the exchange with a profit, but I suspect many of us have been caught out by late non-runners. 

Further reading about reduction factors is available from the newest exchange, Smarkets.

  • How many racecourses are there in the UK

    There are 59 racecourses in the UK, which include three in Wales and five in Scotland.

  • How Many Race meetings are there in an average week

    Racing takes place every day In the UK, there are generally between 25 and 30 meetings, with most on a Saturday.

  • How many races are there each day

    This varies, but at the beginning of the week, it would be around 20 races, building to Saturday, which may have over double that number of races. 

  • How many racecourses are there in Ireland

     There are 26 racecourses in Ireland. 

  • Which races make up the classics

    The five Group 1 Classics, which all run over the flat, are as follows:

    MayNewmarket1000 Guineas1 Mile
    MayNewmarket2000 Guineas1 Mile
    JuneEpsomOaks 1 Mile 4 Furlongs
    1 Mile 4 Furlongs
    SeptemberDoncasterSt Leger
    1 Mile 6 Furlongs

  • What are the most prestigious National Hunt Races

    There are 39 Grade 1 National Hunt races with the most famous the Cheltenham Gold Cup run in March. 

    The Grand National run in April at Aintree has the biggest prize money. 


  • What is a Rule 4

    Rule 4 refers to a deduction made from the winnings of a bet when there is a non-runner. Rule 4 deductions adjust the odds on the remaining horses in the race, as the race is now less competitive with the non-runner. The size of the deduction depends on the odds; a shorter-priced horse that is a non-runner will see a larger deduction than a bigger-priced horse that is a non-runner.

Responsible Gambling

Responsible Gambling is a key consideration when placing bets. On, we have always advocated a sensible, reasoned approach and have produced many articles on the subject, including the one below.

Responsible Gambling Features, Function and Help

Responsible Gambling Features, Function and Help

At the foot of each OLBG page you will also find links to charitable organisations BeGambleAware and GamCare if you feel you need further assistance with your gambling. 


Nigel Skinner updated the latest version of this article after the initial text was written by OLBG Betting Expert Andy Powell.  Some of the information has been sourced from the British Horse Racing Authority who are the regulatory body for horse racing in the UK. The best betting sites have been checked to make sure we have correctly quoted any rule changes they have made. Links to related OLBG articles have been added to further enhance the readers understanding of betting reductions. 

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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