Horse racing and betting
Horse racing is a very unique sport made by the fact that it only exists because of betting. Horse racing betting is probably the second most popular bet on sport in the world after football betting. Betting on horses is enjoyed by young and old, and many bookmakers in the UK were founded becuase of horse betting.
Horse racing has been around for thousands of years. The Romans used to race chariots about two thousand years ago, but it wasn’t until 1174 in Britain that the first race meeting took place. It took until the 17th and 18th centuries until the thoroughbreds that we see today were introduced.
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Types of horse racing
The most popular type of horse racing is thoroughbred racing which is sometimes known as “The Sport of Kings”. It is done over moderate distances at very fast paces either on the flat or over jumps.
Standardbred horse racing is more popular in the Eastern US. These type of horses have the ability to race pulling a small cart rather than a saddled jockey as in thoroughbred racing.
US horse racing
In the US flat thoroughbred racing is the most popular form of horse racing. A ban on bookmakers being involved in horse betting at the beginning of the 1900s almost wiped out the sport. However in 1908 parimutuel betting was introduced and this got the sport back on track. The most famous race in the US calendar is the Breeders Cup held at Belmont Park.
European horse racing
Horse racing is very popular in Europe, with Britain, Ireland and France being the top countries for the sport. It is no surprise that horse betting on races in these countries is so popular.
In Britain and Ireland, National Hunt racing is the most common type, where horses jump fences rather than racing on flat. National Hunt racing is sometimes referred to as a steeplechase, the most famous being The Grand National.
Newmarket is considered as the home of horse racing where James I spent a lot of time in the 1600s. In the 1700s Queen Anne kept a number of horses which led to the formation of the Royal Ascot, a very famous race meeting. The capital of National hunt racing in Britain is now Cheltenham Racecourse. There every year they hold Cheltenham Festival. Ireland is considered a major contributor to horse racing and every year their horses dominate the Cheltenham Festival.
France currently hold the richest race in Europe, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp Racecourse. It has prize money of 4 million Euros.
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Betting on horses
There are two types of horse racing bet that you can make: Either parimutuel betting (like Tote betting), or fixed odds betting on the current market odds.
In Parimutuel you don’t know the final payout until the “pool” of bets is closed, whereas in fixed odds betting you agree on the odds when you make the bet. In primutuel betting you are wagering against other bettors and the “house” takes a commission from the pool.
In the UK tax on betting was abolished in 2001 and now punters can enjoy tax free betting.
Types of horse racing bets
The most popular type of horse racing bet is bet to win, where the punter bets for the horse to win the race. The second most popular type of bet on horse racing is the bet to place, where you will win if the horse you select comes either first or second (US) or a number of places set before the race (UK). Obviously as you are backing more horses in the second option, the odds are going to be less than if you bet on a horse to win.
Bet to show is another option to bet on, however this is more common in the US. Bet to show will pay out if the horse comes first, second or third.
A common term you may hear in horse betting is the each way bet or E/W bet. In the UK an each way bet means the stake is split with half being placed on the horse to win and the rest being placed on a certain place criteria. On some races the each way bet will cover place criteria up to the first 5 places. However in this case the odds you will get if your horse comes in 2nd to 5th are a lot lower than if it comes first.
The introduction of online betting exchanges in the last few years has increased the options for horse racing betting. Punters wanting to place a horse racing bet can now bet against other bettors using the back and lay options offered on the exchange platforms.
Major UK Race meetings
- Cheltenham – The Festival
- Lingfield Park – Bet Direct Winter Derby
- Aintree – Aintree Grand National Meeting
- Ayr – Scottish Grand National
- Newmarket – Craven Meeting
- Sandown Park – Bet365 Gold Cup Celebration
- Newmarket – Guineas Meeting
- Chester – May Meeting
- York – Dante Meeting
- Epsom Downs – Epsom Derby Meeting
- Ascot – Royal Ascot
- Newcastle – John Smith’s Northumberland Plate
- Sandown Park – Coral-Eclipse Meeting
- Newmarket – July Meeting
- Ascot – King George Day
- Goodwood – Glorious Goodwood
- York – Ebor Festival
- Haydock Park – William Hill Sprint Cup
- Doncaster – St. Leger Meeting
- Ayr – Western Meeting
- Ascot – Ascot Festival
- Newmarket – Totesport Cambridgeshire Meeting
- Newmarket – October Meeting
- Doncaster – Racing Post Trophy
- Cheltenham – The Paddy Power Open
- Haydock & Aintree – North West Masters
- Newbury – Hennessy Meeting
- Sandown Park – Tingle Creek Meeting
- Kempton Park – Stan James Christmas Festival
- Chepstow – Coral Welsh National