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Horse Racing Betting Guide

On this page, you will find everything about the fascinating world of horse racing and betting on it. In some European countries horse racing has been a tradition for over 100 years and betting on it is a daily occurrence.

While almost all European countries have horse racing, the largest countries for the sport are England, France, Sweden, and Italy. Horse racing is also huge internationally, particularly in America, Dubai, and South Africa, where betting on horses is very popular.

There are two different disciplines in horse racing: trotting and galloping, and races are held in both. The popularity of each discipline varies widely by country. Later in this article, you can find a detailed explanation of the differences between the two disciplines.

England is the birthplace of this sport. The first horse races were held here in 1766 at the Doncaster racecourse, one of the many racecourses in England. Betting on horse races was introduced shortly after and became increasingly popular. Bookmakers began to offer fixed odds for the horses, and a new tradition was born.

Betting on horse races can be done in various ways, and over the years, more types of bets have been introduced. The most important types of bets are win, place, exacta, quinella, trifecta, and quartet or superfecta. The easiest type of bet to place is the “win” bet, where you choose a horse and simply bet on whether it will win the race or not.

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horse racing betting guide

What can you bet on during horse races?

When betting on horse racing, there are many different types of bets to choose from. You can find the main types of bets here, but keep in mind that there are even more types of horse racing bets available. The following types of bets are what we will be discussing: win, place, exacta, quinella, trifecta, and superfecta.


As mentioned above, the win bet is quite easy to understand. You win this bet if your horse comes in first place; if the horse doesn't come in first, you lose the bet. The amount you win depends on the stake and the odds for the horse to win.

Each horse has its own odds, and if you bet on a horse with odds of 4.00, for example, you will win 4 rupees for every 1 you bet. So if you bet 10 rupees, you will receive 40 rupees back, giving you a net profit of 30 rupees.


With the place bet, you choose a horse that you expect to “place.” This means that your horse must be one of the first three horses to cross the finish line in order to win the bet. This type of betting on horses is easier than the win bet, so the odds are lower.

Keep in mind that the number of horses that “place” can vary per race. Some smaller races may have only two places, while larger races may have up to four.

If there are less than 8 horses, your horse must finish in the top 2. However, if there are more than 15 horses, there are usually 4 place positions, and your horse can finish fourth.


The type of bet called exacta is slightly easier than place and generally pays less. In this bet, the goal is to choose two horses that will finish among the top three horses. It doesn't matter which place in the top three the horses finish, they can also be second and third to be correct.

The minimum bet for the exacta horse racing bet varies by country, but can start from only 50 cents.

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The quinella bet is a type of game that is very similar to the exacta bet mentioned above.

The only difference is that in the quinella bet, you also have to indicate the correct order of the horses. Since in the exacta bet you only have to determine the correct horses in the top 2, the quinella bet is more difficult and the odds are higher.


Trifecta is one of the most popular types of bets and is also much more difficult than the previous types. The goal is to predict the first three horses to finish in the correct order.

You can make different combinations to increase your chances of winning. Because this game is much more difficult than the previous types, the payouts are also much higher. You can win big payouts with the trifecta bet.

The minimum bet for trifecta can start from just 10 cents, so it's possible to win a big payout with a small bet.

Quartet or Superfecta

With the quartet or Superfecta bet, the goal is to predict the first four horses to finish in the correct order. This is even more difficult than trifecta bet and the payouts are even higher.

However, it is less popular than trifecta bet, because many people find it too difficult. The minimum bet for quartet is often very low so you can make many bets and easily hedge your bets.

horse race betting races

How do you decide which horse to bet on?

Every race meeting has its own program, also known as racecards. These racecards provide all the information you need to place your bets for each race.


The racecard shows the starting number, name of the horse, jockey and trainer of the horse, as well as the distance of the race and the prize money.

For each horse, the racecard also displays the results of the last five races, allowing you to determine whether a horse is in good form or not.

In trotting races, the racecard also provides the time in which each horse completed their previous races. This enables you to determine whether a race was fast or slow and whether a horse can run a certain time or not.

There is a lot of valuable information you can get from racecards. They are usually available for free at the entrance of the racetrack or on the betting site.

The racecard is therefore your main source of information when it comes to betting on horse races. Make sure to always consult it before placing your bets.

Horse race betting racecard

What are good bets when you are just starting out with betting on horses?

If you are just starting with betting on horse racing, it is best to start with the place bet. This bet is the easiest, as you only need to predict that a horse will finish in the top three.

If you want to take a little more risk, as a beginner you can also choose the win bet. With this bet, you actually have to predict the winner of the race, but the odds are also much more interesting. Additionally, you can of course spread your chances by playing the win bet on multiple horses.

Both of these bets can be played for as little as 90 rupees, which makes them interesting for everyone.

Finally, as a beginner fan of betting on horses, you can also play the quinella bet. This type of game pays out well and is easy to understand. You simply have to guess the numbers 1 and 2 in the correct order in the race.

Once you have a handle on the quinella bet, you can also try multiple combinations. For example, 1 in first place with 2,3,4 in second place. In this example, horse 1 must win the race and horses 2, 3, and 4 can finish second to get it right.

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Fixed odds vs Pool Betting

When betting on horses, there are two ways in which the odds are determined: fixed odds and pool betting.

Fixed Odds

With fixed odds, the bookmaker determines the odds for each horse and these odds remain fixed once you have placed your bet.

If a horse has odds of 5.00, you will always be paid out 5 rupees if your bet wins. The bookmaker can of course lower these odds to 4 rupees if they receive a lot of bets on this horse, but this only applies to new customers.

In England, the different bookmakers are positioned next to each other at the track and you can also see which bookmaker offers the highest odds for your horse.

Pool betting

Pool betting works a bit differently and has fluctuating odds. The odds are only fixed once the race starts. All bets placed on a specific type of bet go into one prize pool and are divided among the winners. We will use the ‘win’ bet as an example, as this is where the odds are always shown.

If there is a lot of money placed on one horse and that horse wins, then there are many winning tickets and the prize pool must be divided among all of these winning tickets. The odds for this horse will be very low.

If a horse wins on which very little was bet, then the prize pool only needs to be divided among a few tickets and the odds will automatically be higher. The odds are linked to the amount of money placed on each horse and are only fixed once the race starts.

This means that you could place a bet on a horse with odds of 5 when you place the bet, but the odds could drop to 4 by the start of the race. This system can work in both directions, as your horse's odds could also increase to 6 if there are fewer bets placed on it.

Grand National Horse race

What are the different types of horse races?

In horse racing, as previously mentioned, there are two disciplines: trotting and galloping. Each discipline also has two types of races, which we will discuss below.


In galloping, there are flat races and races over hurdles. In these types of horse races, jockeys ride the horses and try to complete the course as quickly as possible until the finish line.

In flat races, horses start in starting boxes and then sprint as quickly as possible over the track. The distances of flat races vary from 1000 meters to sometimes 4000 meters, but most are around 2000 meters.

Flat races are the most popular type of horse racing worldwide. Besides England, America, and Dubai, these races are also significant in Asia and Australia. For example, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Melbourne have very large flat races.

The other discipline in galloping is horse racing over hurdles. Again, jockeys ride the horses. In these races, horses do not start from starting boxes but from a starting line behind an elastic band that jumps off at the start.

In these races, the start is less critical because they go over much longer distances. The distances of these races vary from 2400 meters to sometimes 7000 meters. Horses must have a large lung capacity to excel in this discipline.

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The second type of horse race for betting is trotting. In this discipline, horses must trot the entire race. If a horse changes its trot and begins to gallop, it is disqualified. In trotting races, there are also two types of races: regular trotting races and mounted trotting races.

Most races in this discipline are regular trotting races. In these types of horse races, drivers sit behind the horse on a cart, also known as a sulky.

The horses pull the sulky as quickly as possible over the track. They start in trotting races behind a starting car and then complete a certain number of laps. Trotting races are held over distances ranging from 1600 to 3200 meters. In France, Sweden, Italy, and America, this type of horse racing is the largest.

Apart from regular trotting races, there are also mounted trotting races, where riders are not on a sulky but on the horse itself. The horses must still trot during these races. Mounted trotting races cover the same distances as regular trotting races.

Horse racing trotting race

What are the major international horse racing events?

Horse racing betting has existed for decades and has many traditions as a result. Due to this longstanding history, there are plenty of horse racing events that return to the calendar every year.

In recent years the prize money for horse racing has increased significantly. So much so, that winners of some events can win up to 7 million US Dollars.

Below you will find an overview of the most important horse races per category.

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Flat Races

The biggest events in flat racing take place all over the world. The Dubai World Cup, held in the United Arab Emirates, offers the largest prize money with the winner receiving $7.2 million.

Two other major races are the Melbourne Cup in Australia and the Kentucky Derby in America, with respective prizes of 4.4 million Australian dollars and 1.86 US dollars for the winner.

The biggest flat racing events in Europe are held in England and France. In England, events such as the Epsom Derby, Royal Ascot, Newmarket Guineas, and Glorious Goodwood attract audiences of tens of thousands of people per day, with prize money in the hundreds of thousands of pounds per race.

In France, the biggest flat race is the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe held in October at the Longchamps racecourse in Paris, offering a first prize of 2.8 million euros to the winning horse.

Epsom Derby horse races

Hurdle races

The biggest events in horse racing over jumps are mainly held in the United Kingdom. The Grand National, held at the Aintree racecourse in Liverpool, is by far the biggest race with 40 horses competing over a course of 7 kilometers and a first prize of 560,000 pounds.

Another major event over jumps is the four-day Cheltenham Festival in England, which attracts around 70,000 people per day, with the highlight being the Gold Cup with a first prize of 350,000 pounds.

Other big horse races over jumps are the Irish Grand National and the Scottish Grand National, with prizes of 270,000 euros and 112,000 euros respectively.

Trotting events

The biggest harness racing events take place in France and Sweden. The Prix d'Amerique, held at the Vincennes racecourse in Paris, is the biggest race, taking place on the last Sunday of January with around 40,000 spectators. The race covers a distance of 2700 meters, and the winner receives a prize of 450,000 euros.

In Sweden, the biggest trotting races take place at the Solvalla track near Stockholm at the end of May. At the Elitloppet, 16 horses compete over 1600 meters for a first prize of 400,000 euros.

In two races of 8 horses, the first 4 horses to finish move on to the final. There, the remaining 8 horses compete to determine the winner. Elitloppet is a fantastic three-day festival that attracts around 30,000 visitors on Saturday and Sunday.

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Author Details

Narayan Anand

Narayan Anand

Bonus hunter & payments expert

Hi, I am Narayan Anand and I am an experienced sports betting enthusiast. In recent years I have played on dozens of different Indian bookmakers, familiarising myself with all the features they have to offer. While I bet on cricket from time to time I specialise in writing content regarding cricket bookmakers and their bonuses. Finding the latest free bets, deposit bonuses and reload bonuses is very rewarding and I am glad to share them here with you.

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