What is Rule 4 in Horse Racing?

Published: August 20, 2019
Author: Joe Kizlauskas
Last Updated: January 8, 2024
horse racing betting

horse racing betting

Rule 4 is a horse racing bet deduction when a horse is removed from a race. If a horse is withdrawn from a race, there is a better opportunity for the remaining horses to win. Therefore, to represent the fact that the remaining horses have a better chance of winning, their odds are decreased.

Rule 4 deductions can come as a bit of a shock to punters who usually don’t bet on horses and panic can set in when you realise that your returns are not close to what you expected them to be.

Let’s say that in a race at 4/1 odds you decided to back the 2nd favourite with the favourite odds-on at 4/6. The favourite then withdraws from the race, which implies that your horse is now the fresh favourite, but at 4/1 is what you backed it at. Odds are calculated based on a horses percentage chance of winning the market and what the bookie’s potential losses will be if the horse wins the race.

A horse pulling out changes all of this and represent the fresh winning opportunities for the horses than remain. The odds on your horse are now expected to be much smaller and will change despite you putting the bet at 4/1 before you knew the favourite would be withdrawn.

Do you think it is unfair? It possibly is to you but the bookmaker odds are based on maths and risk and so all bookmakers implement Rule 4 to protect themselves.

Anyone who backed the withdrawn horse will be reimbursed for their stake by the bookmakers, so it’s only fair that the odds on your horse are now altered to represent the race as it stands.

How Rule 4 deductions are calculated?

Rule 4 deductions based on the odds of the withdrawn horse and so it should be fairly easy to work out your expected return should your horse win.

Remember that the deduction from Rule 4 applies to your winnings and not to your returned stake. The proportion of deduction is displayed alongside the withdrawn horse’s odds.

Matched betting when there is a deduction from Rule 4

For those of you that partake in matched betting then panic can set in when this happens. If there is a deduction from Rule 4 and you have not only backed a horse but also laid it on the exchange. What’s going to occur? If your horse wins as the payout will be less, will you lose cash?

Fortunately, Rule 4 deductions also apply to the betting exchanges, so your odds should also adjust on the exchanges to reflect this. Your profits from the bet, however, may not be as high as anticipated and there may actually be a loss as a result so therefore you will need to calculate this when taking an overall view of profit and loss. If you use a spreadsheet to record your profits/losses depending on the current odds, you may need to edit your spreadsheet or profit tracker.

Although it shouldn’t be an enormous shift, it could be greater or lower. If you use a free bet and there is a deduction from Rule 4, it could affect your anticipated profit. By using your free bets on bets with odds of 5.0 or higher, you usually create the most profit. However, if your chances are lowered dramatically, your earnings may also be decreased.

You shouldn’t have to do anything if there is a deduction from Rule 4 as both the bookmaker and the betting exchange should automatically create the new odds and apply them to your account.

About Joe Kizlauskas

Joe is a seasoned iGaming copywriter and speaker who has been in the business since 2015. He's written more words on all elements of Casinos, Slots, Bingo & Sports Betting than he likes to remember, and he's contributed material to a number of well-known brands. Joe may be seen playing 5 a side, at the gym or playing games on his Playstation when he is not writing.