Horse racing is a great pastime, but it can be a little intimidating for beginners. If you’ve never tried it before, you might think that there’s too much jargon and too many rules for you to try.

That’s why we’ve put together this easy guide on how to bet on horse racing.

Where to Bet on Horse Racing

Before we get to the basics, you need to know where you can bet on horse racing. Fortunately, there are a few options.

Bettors can place their bets at the racetrack, the bookkeepers, and even certain trusted online casinos.

For the first two options, it’s essential to understand all the betting terminology, as you’ll have to verbalize your bet to the bookie.

However, this could be an excellent choice for beginners, as you’ll have someone to help you through the process. With online casinos, you will have to fill out a digital betting slip.

Regardless of how you place your bet, you will need some information. This includes the race, your chosen horse’s name and number, the amount you want to wager (i.e. the stake), and your bet type.

Understanding Horse Racing Odds

Another feature of horse betting that is important to know before getting started is how to read the odds.

There are two popular ways of presenting odds in the UK: the fractional and decimal systems.

As the name suggests, fractional odds are presented as fractions—for example, 3/1. If a horse has three-to-one odds, that means that for every unit you put up as your stake, you will receive three back (plus the initial stake) if you win. So, if you place a £1 bet, you will have a net win of £3 and will receive £4 total.

To continue with this system, if a horse has 6/2 odds (i.e. six-to-two odds), then for every £2 you stake, you will win £6. You will get £7 back.

If a horse has odds where the first number (i.e. the numerator) is smaller than the second number (i.e. the denominator), that means they are a favourite to win.

This is called being odds-on, and it greatly reduces the net win potential. For example, if the odds are 1/3, you will have a net win of only £1 if you wager £3 and receive a total of £4. If an odds-on favourite loses, it’s called an upset.

Decimal odds factor in your stake to show how much you could get back as a return should you win. Our earlier example of 3/1 odds is the equivalent of 4.00 odds expressed in the decimal system.

With decimal odds, you can multiply the odds by your stake to see your total potential return on the bet if you win.

How to Bet on Horse Racing

In horse racing, there are a few different types of bets that you can make. Some types of bets are more straightforward than others.

The more complicated types typically have the potential for higher winnings.

To Win

This is the most straightforward and, therefore, the most popular bet in horse racing.

This bet simply means choosing which horse you think will place first. So, you are betting on the horse to win.


Another popular bet type is each-way. This is a great bet type if you think your horse will do well, but you aren’t sure if it’ll win.

An each-way bet is essentially two bets placed on the same horse. One bet is betting that the horse will win. The other bet is betting that the horse will place (i.e., finish in the top three).

If you place an each-way bet, you must pay the stake twice, as it is two bets. So, if you place a £2 each-way bet, you will have to pay £4.

The payout for each-way bets is also a little different, as the payout for the place bet is a fraction of the odds—typically a quarter or a fifth.

For example, if you win your £2 each-way bet at 4/1 odds, you will get £8 for the win bet win. You will also receive a quarter or fifth of that (depending on the type of race and number of horses) for the place bet.

Additionally, you will receive your £4 stake back. That could mean a net win of £10 or a total return of £14.

If you place an each-way bet and the horse only places, you lose your stake for the win bet. However, you will still receive your net win amount and stake for the place bet.

Single Bets

A single bet is where you bet on a single event at a time—or one particular race.

Multiple Bets

There are many variations of multiple bets you can make. A multiple bet is where you make separate bets on separate events in the same wager.

The most straightforward multiple bet is a double (i.e. betting on two events), and the most complicated is a Goliath, which allows people to make 247 bets in one wager.

A double, treble, fourfold, or fivefold are all simple multiples. What makes these bets more challenging is that you must win all bets. Multiple bets are also sometimes called accumulators.

The more complicated Goliath is an example of a combination bet, which covers doubles, trebles, and occasionally more.

Straight Forecast

A straight forecast requires you two pick two horses to finish in first and second, in the correct order.

Reverse Forecast

A reverse forecast is similar to a straight forecast, but the horses can finish in any order.


A trifecta requires you to pick the top three finishing horses in the correct order.
Horse racing is great entertainment that anyone can enjoy, especially once you learn how to bet on the sport.