Online Betting / Betting Strategies / Horse Racing Betting Strategies: How Best to Approach Betting on Racing in 2024

Horse Racing Betting Strategies: How Best to Approach Betting on Racing in 2024

James Leeland
Fact checked by: Jim Knight
Publish Date: 06.03.2024

With the right horse racing betting strategy, betting on horse races can turn from a simple game of chance into a much more enjoyable experience. These strategies, tested and fine-tuned over time, give bettors an edge in their wagering endeavours.

In this guide, we delve into a selection of the best betting strategies for horse racing. Whether you’re a seasoned gambler or an enthusiastic newbie, these methodologies provide a solid foundation for informed betting. We aim to not only enhance your understanding of horse racing but also to equip you with the tools to approach betting with a strategic mindset.

Horse Racing Markets to Build Your Strategy Around

One of the best ways to start building a horse racing betting strategy is to understand how each betting market differs from the next. Once you know how each horse betting market functions, you’ll be able to start applying unique strategies within each one.

There are several horse racing markets that offer unique opportunities for strategic betting. Only the top bookmakers for horse racing will often offer each and every one of these markets.

Betting MarketsDescription
Win BetsThis is the most straightforward market where you simply bet on the horse you think will win the race.
Place BetsA slightly safer bet, where you wager on a horse to finish in the top two, three, or four places, depending on the size of the field.
Show BetsThis is a conservative betting strategy where you bet on a horse to finish in the top three.
Across-the-Board BetsA higher stake bet that combines win, place, and show bets for a single horse.
Exotic BetsThese bets involve multiple horses and have the potential for big payouts. Examples include Exacta (predicting the first two finishers in order), Trifecta (predicting the first three), and Superfecta (predicting the first four).
Future WagersThese long-term bets are placed well in advance of big races, often with attractive odds. However, they carry higher risk as many variables can change before the race.
Daily DoubleA bet where you attempt to pick the winners of two consecutive races.
Each-Way BettingIn each-way betting, you place two bets on the same horse – one for it to win and one for it to place (usually in the top three). This can be a safer bet but offers less return.
Dutch BettingIn this strategy, you bet on more than one horse in the same race, which increases chances of winning but reduces potential profits.

Here are a few additional betting markets that can be considered while engaging in horse racing betting, but they are a bit more niche, and therefore more apt for those with wider betting experience already.

Betting MarketsDescription
Pick 3/4/5/6 BetsThese bets involve selecting the winner of three, four, five, or six consecutive races, respectively. The payouts can be quite significant, but the difficulty also increases with each race added.
Head-to-Head BetsIn this type of bet, you choose which of two horses will finish ahead of the other. This doesn’t require either horse to win the race, just to outperform the other.
Lay BettingThis is a bet on a horse not to win or not to achieve a certain position. This can be a strategic option when there’s a strong favourite in a race.
Proposition BetsThese bets are usually about specific outcomes within a race, such as the winning margin, time records, or whether a record will be broken.

All of the best betting sites online will allow you to bet on these markets, and in some cases may even allow you to build your own accumulator bets. With so many different types of markets to bet on, there are a near infinite number of ways that you can build your own horse betting strategy.

Now that you know the markets you can bet on, and a little bit about what goes into them, it’s time to delve into some of the most popular horse betting strategies that you may apply to them at some point. You can try out all of them, tweak them, or disregard them entirely. At the end of the day, the best horse racing betting strategy is the one that works for you. Learning the basics, however, can help you understand just what goes into a well-placed bet, and what is just chance.

Before you get started, of course, there are a few factors you want to consider, and they all boil down to which betting operator that you use. The best horse racing betting strategies in the world means nothing if you aren’t also getting the best odds, for example, so start first by betting at best odds sites. Other factors that go into a great operator where you can engage in horse racing betting include:

  • Live Streaming – To watch live if your horse racing strategy is playing out the way you intended
  • Live Odds – To see where value bets might spontaneously appear during a race
  • Live Statistics – To keep track of your horse(s)’ ongoing performance and record
  • Early Cash Out – To be able to get out of a bet either to secure early partial wins or reduce your losses
  • Bet Builders – To be able to have the most flexibility when placing horse racing bets.

If the provider you use offers these tools (or more) then you are off on a good start to being able to maximise the power of any horse racing betting strategy. From there, try out these popular strategies:

1. Backing Longshots

With betting, the best way to potentially increase your wins with a small bet is to bet on a longshot. Now, while the physical act of betting on a longshot is easy, the horse racing betting strategy behind it is not. In order to pick a horse from the start that you expect to win, you’ll need to understand how the horse performs on soft, good, and firm – and that’s just the start. To improve your longshot strategy, you’ll need to know all the statistics, and the ins and outs of horse physiology in order to pick the best horses for your bets.

2. Exactas

Exactas means betting on the winner and runner up in a horse race (sometimes even the top three, which is called trifectas). In some cases, the first and second place are set, so you need the horse you picked for 1st to come out in 1st place, and for your 2nd place slot to finish as the runner up. You can, alternatively, “box in” you picks, so that first and second places are interchangeable. If, during your longshots research, you can’t easily pick between two or three horses, then using the exactas strategy and boxing them in can be a smart approach.

3. Backing Multiples

Another strategy is to bet on more than one horse per race (usually between 2 to 4) but instead of betting on each horse’s position, you bet on all of them to win. This is known as backing multiple runners. A good way to make your bets go furthest is to choose your main horse to back, and then saver bets on the other 1 to 3 horses.

4. Saver Bet

With a saver bet you place the majority of your budget on your favourite to win, and then one or more “saver bet”. These saver bets will have a lower stake. Essentially, you just want to pick other good candidates that, if they win, you win back your stake (so, for example £5).

5. Check Each Horse’s Backing

There’s a lot of time, money, and effort that goes into building horse racing odds. Previous performance goes a long way, yes, but so too does the horse’s current condition. You don’t need to bet on the horse with the most backing every time, but if you’re considering betting on a horse that has no backing, you need to be 100% ready to lose that bet.

6. Bet Against Debut Winners

Horses excel in their chosen sport, so if they swap over then there’s a potentially better bet to be had. For example, a horse that is known for racing flat that switches over to race over hurdles typically doesn’t do well. Despite that, they usually have short odds, especially if that horse was trained by a big name in the industry.

7. Value Betting and Horse Racing

People often ask how value betting works in relation to horse racing. Well, value betting in horse racing is a strategy that revolves around finding and capitalising on overpriced horses. This approach requires a deep understanding of horse racing and the ability to accurately assess a horse’s chances of winning, which often involves studying their past performance, evaluating their form and fitness, and considering the race conditions. The goal is to find horses that are undervalued by the public and place bets on them. This strategy can be challenging but can provide excitement for those who master it.

A value bettor operates on the principle that bookmakers’ odds don’t always reflect the true probability of outcomes. Therefore, identifying a horse whose odds are greater than its actual chance of winning and placing a bet on it can lead to a better experience in the long run. This strategy, while demanding time and expertise, can be highly rewarding for the dedicated bettor.

8. Bankroll Management

With horse racing betting strategies as with any type of betting, you should never bet more than you can 100% lose. That’s why it’s important to deposit only what you can afford to lose outright, and then use the responsible gambling tools to help prevent you from chasing losses.

9. Staking Strategy

Just as you shouldn’t deposit more than you can lose, you should also limit how much you bet on a single game. With this staking strategy, you should only bet around 5% of your bankroll. If you deposited £100, then this means you should only bet around £5 per race. If you win and your bankroll increases, then you can naturally bet on more (If there’s £1000 in your betting wallet, then bet a max of £50 per race). This helps you spread out your bets throughout the season, and also helps you think more critically on each bet you make. The amount you have to wager doesn’t have to be on one horse, either, and can be spread throughout the race.

10. Calculating the Odds

Calculating the implied probability from the odds given to you by the bookie is very easy, and can help beginners understand which horses the bookies have their bets on, which is why it should be part of your horse racing betting strategy from the get go. The easiest and fastest way to do this is to simply use an implied probability calculator. Reworking odds so that they read out as a percentage can make picking horses easier, especially for beginners.

The Roundup: What You Need to Build Your Own Horse Betting Strategy

In conclusion, creating an effective horse racing betting strategy can improve your experience and provide new opportunities for diversifying your betting approach. The importance of analysing odds, learning to identify value bets, and employing a disciplined approach can’t be stressed enough.

By delving deeper into the nuances of horse racing and being patient, you can enhance your betting skills and strategically navigate the exciting world of horse racing. As you continue your horse racing betting journey, remember that knowledge is your most potent tool. Stay curious, keep learning, and never hesitate to reassess your strategies. For more insights and strategies on horse racing betting, consider checking out some other articles on our website.

Betting bonuses not to be missed in 2024

First Bet Safety Net up to $1000 OR Bet $5 and Get $150
Play Now
At bet365 we don’t do ordinary, that’s why if you sign up now you’ll get the choice of two great New Customer Offers, the First Bet Safety Net up to $1000 or Bet $5 and Get $150 in Bonus Bets. Deposit required. Bonus Bets wager excluded from returns. T&Cs, time limits and exclusions apply. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-Gambler 21+
Up To $1500 in Bonus Bets Paid Back if your First Bet Does Not Win
Play Now
T&Cs apply, 21+
Bank Transfer
20% up to $1000
Play Now
T&Cs apply, 21+
VIP Preferred
Second chance bet: Get up to $500 in Bonus Bets
Play Now
T&Cs apply, 21+
Bank Transfer
VIP Preferred
Bet $5 Get $150 in Bonus Bets if your bet wins
Play Now
T&Cs apply, 21+
Prepaid Card
Bank Transfer

Horse Racing Betting Strategy FAQ

🏇 Can I use bonuses as part of my horse racing betting strategy?

Yes, you can use bonuses. Just make sure that the bonus you use (like a free bet) is valid for horse racing. You won’t be able to cash out that free bet or bonus early, so work that into your strategy if and when you use a bonus bet.

❓ Can I use the same bet strategy on horse racing as I do on dog racing?

While both races involve animals, they are very different. The jockeys play a crucial role in how well a horse paces itself, manoeuvres itself, and whether or not it will win. This means that while some of your strategies can remain the same, you will need to update your horse racing betting strategies to reflect the presence of the jockey.

📲 Is it better to bet on horses online or in-person?

While you’ll have the ability to watch the live event by going to a race track, you’ll almost always have more tools (like early cash out, live statistics, and so on) when you bet online. You can also shop around for odds, and place bets without getting up, allowing you to take advantage of in-race moments.

🙋 How does value betting work in relation to horse racing?

Value betting in horse racing involves identifying and betting on horses that are priced higher than their actual chances of winning. This strategy requires a deep understanding of horse racing and the ability to accurately assess a horse’s probability of winning against the odds offered by bookmakers. Essentially, if you believe a horse’s odds of winning are better than what the bookmakers suggest, then there’s ‘value’ in the bet.

🧐 Why are odds so important for building an effective strategy for horse race betting?

Odds play a pivotal role in horse racing betting as they give you the projected return on your bet, inform your betting decisions, and aid in identifying value bets. They reflect the probability of each horse’s chance to win, as estimated by the bookmakers. A deep understanding of how to read and interpret these odds can provide you with a significant edge.