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.
You 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).
If 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
In 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.