Every week we bring you tips of the weeks best horse racing. The tips run every Saturday – hence the name – and cover every race that’s televised on live TV in the UK. Normally there are six or seven races shown on ITV4, although this can vary slightly throughout the year. Tips are added each Friday afternoon.
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ITV Racing Tips for 16th September 2023 (Doncaster & Chester)
The penultimate day of the Doncaster St Leger Festival dominates the ITV racing coverage this coming Saturday, as the most talented three-year-old stayers battle it out in the final Classic of the season. That historic event takes centre stage, but there’s plenty of quality on the undercard, including the Group 2 Champagne Stakes for the juveniles. The Portland provides this week's big field handicap puzzle, whilst Chester rounds out the action with a couple of cracking contests from the Roodee. Here, we run through the six excellent events on offer in this week's Saturday Racing Tips.
1:50 Betfred Champagne Stakes
Group 2, 7f
Just the five go to post in this opening event for the juveniles, landed by subsequent 2,000 Guineas champ, Chaldean, in 2022. Whether there is anything of that class in this year's lineup remains to be seen, but the two to concentrate on look to be the Charlie Johnston-trained Iberian (7/2) and Rosallion (2/5) from the yard of Richard Hannon.
Iberian is nicely bred for this test and has done little wrong in his two starts to date – winning on debut before finishing a solid second in the Group 2 Vintage Stakes at Glorious Goodwood. He should go well, but it may pay to side with the jolly. A perfect two from two in his career to date, this son of Blue Point scorched the turf when scooting four lengths clear in the Listed Pat Eddery Stakes last time out. The time was excellent that day, and if in anything like the same form following a 49-day break, he should prove tough to beat.
2:05 tote Stand Cup Stakes
Karl Burke’s Al Qareem (13/2) tops the ratings here, but has been woefully out of form in his two most recent outings and needs to rediscover his mojo, now stepping back down in trip. Roger Varian’s Modaara (7/1) and Ralph Beckett’s Alba Longa (33/1) will likely have their supporters as the only two distance winners in the field, but this is another event in which it is pretty hard to look past the market leader.
Also hailing from the Ralph Beckett operation, Bluestocking (4/6) takes a drop in class here, having finished fourth in the Group 1 Yorkshire Oaks when looking a little tapped for toe on the good to firm ground. Prior to that, this Camelot filly went down by just half a laugh to Savethelastdance in a soft ground Irish Oaks. She has 10 pounds and more in hand of her rivals under the weight for age conditions of this and can break her duck for the season in her easiest assignment to date.
2:25 Betfred Portland
Class 2, 5½f
We have a maximum field of 22 in the big sprint handicap. The draw can be difficult to weigh up here, but with 27 of the past 40 top-four finishers emerging from a double-figure stall, it would appear that high numbers hold the edge. However, that didn’t stop Call Me Ginger (8/1) winning from stall three 12 months ago, and the Jim Goldie runner boasts obvious claims from just a two-pound higher mark. Arriving on a hattrick following a win at Ascot last weekend, his claims are hard to fault.
However, with many firms offering enhanced placed terms, we prefer an each-way punt, and the one to get the vote is the Richard Hannon filly, The Big Board (25/1). This one always tries her heart out and ran a nice race earlier in the month, when only fading close home over six furlongs, when shouldered with 9st9lb. Today's weight of 8st12lb looks far more manageable for a filly. Yet to finish outside of the first three in two previous outings at this track, her most recent visit resulted in an effortless success off a mark of 87. She’s up to 94 here, but that’s still only two pounds higher than when landing a big field handicap at Ascot in July, and she shouldn’t be far away.
2:40 Camden Hells Handicap
Class 3, 1m2½f
We have some competitive handicapping fare to close out the action from Chester, with four of the ten runners boasting a win over the course and distance. That counts for plenty around this idiosyncratic track, and we fancy First Impression (5/1), Baryshnikov (5/1), Dark Pine (10/1), and Box To Box (6/1) may be the quartet to concentrate on.
Stall 10 may scupper the chances of Box To Box, but the other three are tough to split. Dark Pine is the most appealing each-way option in the race, but overall, we prefer a straight win bet on First Impression, who arrives right at the top of his game. Showing the benefit of a 90-day break to win as he liked over track and trip last time out, he is well drawn to employ similar front-running tactics. He’s up 5lbs for that win, but that leaves him two pounds lower than when an unlucky in running third over this course and distance in May of 2021, and he can improve his solid Chester stats.
3:00 Betfred Park Stakes
Group 2, 7f
A fascinating event over seven furlongs precedes the big one at Doncaster. This looks wide open on paper, but the forecast conditions may prove pivotal. Audience (4/1) and Jumby (14/1) excel at this distance and have the recent form to be involved, but may be undone by soft ground. Biggles (9/2), meanwhile, should cope well with give underfoot but probably has too much to find on ratings, even with Ryan Moore in the saddle.
The two to focus on are Spycatcher (13/8) and Sandrine (4/1). The former ran a cracker to go down narrowly in a French Group 1 race over six and a half furlongs on his most recent outing. He likes soft ground and goes for a trainer in Karl Burke, who has hit a rich seam of form. However, he is still officially three pounds behind Sandrine on ratings and must concede three pounds to that rival under these conditions. At the prices, we prefer a punt on the Andrew Balding runner, who took a big step back in the right direction when only a length behind Kinross last time out. Seemingly coming to the boil at just the right time for this, she can get the job done under Oisin Murphy.
3:35 Betfred St Leger Stakes
Group 1, 1m6½f
Last but not least, the big one, as a field of nine goes to post in the oldest Classic in the world. Aidan O’Brien and John Gosden have eleven wins in the race between them and are going all out to add to that tally in 2023, with seven of the nine runners heading here from Ballydoyle or Gosden's Suffolk base. William Haggas and Simon and Ed Crisford will be hoping Desert Hero (11/2) and Chesspiece (12/1) have something to say about it, but overall, the strongest claims look to lie with the Irish and English powerhouse yards.
Of the O’Brien quartet, Great Voltigeur winner Continuous (4/1) is the choice of Ryan Moore. This son of Heart’s Cry was impressive that day but benefitted from a pace collapse up front and – like many in the field – will be stepping into unknown territory over this trip. Of the other O’Brien representatives, Tower Of London (12/1) rates an appealing each-way option, having looked all about stamina in his recent outings. However, with the soft ground possibly against the son of Galileo, we will turn to the Gosden yard for our selection.
Frankie Dettori was expected to partner Gregory (9/2) but, having been conquered by Continuous in the Great Voltigeur, has instead opted for the Frankel colt, Arrest (7/2). That may prove a shrewd move, given the rain in the area. This strapping sort has a patchy overall record but appears far more solid when focussing only on his runs on good to soft or worse going. Boasting career form figures of 1211 under such conditions and having stayed well when scoring over 1m5½f at Newbury last time out, this should be right up his street.
- ITV Racing Tips for 9th September 2023 (Ascot, Haydock, & Kempton, & Leopardstown)
- ITV Racing Tips for 2nd September 2023 (Beverley, Chester, & Sandown)
- ITV Racing Tips for 26th August 2023 (York & Goodwood)
- ITV Racing Tips for 19th August 2023 (Newbury, Newmarket & Ripon)
- ITV Racing Tips for 12th August 2023 (Ascot, Haydock, Newmarket & Curragh)
- ITV Racing Tips for 5th August 2023 (Goodwood & Newmarket)
- ITV Racing Tips for 29th July 2023 (Ascot & York)
- ITV Racing Tips for 22nd July 2023 (Newbury, Market Rasen & Curragh)
- ITV Racing Tips for 15th July 2023 (Ascot, Newmarket & York)
- ITV Racing Tips for 8th July 2023 (Sandown & Haydock)
Saturday Racing Highlights
The hope for many of the owners in racing is that their horse is able to progress up the handicap ratings so they get a run in one of the big Saturday handicaps that take place all year round. Big field handicaps play an important role on the best Saturday meetings on the flat and over jumps as do prestigious Graded and Group level races.
Saturday usually brings the best racing of the week but not all Saturdays are equal. There are some real highlights in the horse racing calendar which we have detailed for you below. There is huge variety in terms of what we see, with the most famous NH contest in the world, Saturday at Royal Ascot and a number of Classics. Saturday racing highlights also include certain trials days, as well as standalone contests that may not have quite the same global appeal as, say, the Grand National, but are really big fixtures in the UK none the less.
Major Saturday Meetings
As you can see from this table, there is a great variety of races and meetings on Saturday for racing fans and punters to get their teeth stuck into. What’s more, with big meetings taking place every single month of the year, the wait for exciting racing should never be too hard to bear!
|Festival Trials Day||Cheltenham||January|
|Clarence House Chase||Ascot||January|
|Ascot Chase Day||Ascot||February|
|The Grand National||Aintree||April|
|Scottish Grand National||Ayr||April|
|Jumps Finale||Sandown Park||April|
|The Derby||Epsom Downs||June|
|King George Weekend||Ascot||July|
|Sprint Cup||Haydock Park||September|
|Ayr Gold Cup||Ayr||September|
|British Champions Day||Ascot||October|
|Vertem Futurity Trophy||Doncaster||October|
|The November Meeting||Cheltenham||November|
|Fighting Fifth Hurdle||Newcastle||November|
|Tingle Creek Chase||Sandown Park||December|
Festival Trials Day, Cheltenham
The biggest and most prestigious NH festival in the world takes place Tuesday to Friday in March but Cheltenham Trials Day is a major stepping stone towards the big one. This really marks the countdown to the Festival and sees a cracking day of racing.
It is also a great day to keep your racing notebook handy. In 2019, for example, Frodon, Paisley Park and Siruh Du Lac all delivered the goods on Trials Day before doubling up on the third day of the Festival a couple of months later. The card is full of interesting contests but the JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial, the Ballymore Classic Novices’ Hurdle, the Cleeve Hurdle and the feature, the Cotswold Chase, are the main highlights.
Clarence House Chase, Ascot
As well as its huge flat meeting later in the year, Ascot hosts some top notch NH racing at the start of the year and Clarence House Chase Day is certainly a brilliant Saturday of jumps horseracing. The feature is the 2m1f Grade 1 that lends its name to the day and is a great indication of who to look out for in the Champion Chase at Cheltenham. Seven horses have doubled up, including Sprinter Sacre and Altior.
Of course, the rest of the day’s card doesn’t quite live up to that, but the Mares’ Hurdle, a relatively recent addition and a Grade 2, and the Grade 3 Holloway’s Handicap Hurdle are the main supporting cast.
Ascot Chase Day, Ascot
The Ascot Chase is the last of three Grade 1 jumps contests held at the Berkshire course each year. Won by Kauto Star and twice by Cue Card, this is a really classy affair, with winners of this also often taking big prizes at Cheltenham the following month.
As well as the eponymous race, this Saturday, typically in mid-February, hosts a number of other really interesting races as well. The Reynoldstown Novices’ Chase, a Grade 2 run over three miles, is a key contest for those hoping to thrive in the RSA Chase at Cheltenham. Also, look out for the Swinley Chase, a handicap that is always a great betting heat.
Winter Derby, Lingfield
The Winter Derby is one of the highlights of the year at Lingfield in Surrey. A Group 3, it is run on Lingfield’s all-weather surface and is one of the biggest winter contests for racing fans who like their action on the flat. Run over 1m2f, it was established in 1998 and is one of a very limited number of Group class races not to take place on turf.
Frankie Dettori has won the day’s feature race a record four times and he also has a win in the day’s other major race, the Hever Sprint Stakes. The Italian won that aboard No Time in 2004.
The Grand National, Aintree
The Grand National is the biggest race in all of British horseracing. It is the one race of the year that does more than any other to draw the attention of fans outside of racing to the sport. It is the feature race of the Grand National Festival at Aintree and comes on the final of the three days, always a Saturday.
It isn’t just about the big one though and other big races of the day include three Grade 1s – the Mersey Novices’ Hurdle, the Maghull Novices’ Chase and the Ryanair Stayers Hurdle. It’s the marathon four mile two and a half furlong Grand National that draws the fans to the Merseyside track and sees millions tune from around the world though.
Scottish Grand National, Ayr
The Grand National at Aintree isn’t the only prestigious, long distance handicap of the year that takes place on a Saturday. The Scottish Grand National at Ayr follows its equivalent on Merseyside by just a few weeks. Several horses who ran at Aintree also contest the Scottish Grand National but the legendary Red Rum is the only horse to complete the double.
The Scottish Grand National features around 30 horses, all of which have to slog it around the 4 mile 1 furlong circuit (or as far as they can go before falling or being pulled up). It is always a fascinating watch and a race full of each way opportunities for punters.
Jumps Finale, Sandown Park
By the time April rolls around spring is very much in the air, which means racing fans are starting to turn their attention from jumps to the flat. The two-day Jumps Finale meeting at Sandown is a great way to celebrate the National Hunt season with some very big races taking place on Saturday including the Celebration Chase, the Gold Cup and the Select Hurdle.
Big name trainers like to send some of their top string to Sandown for one last hurrah before taking a break over the summer, but the Jumps Finale is also a chance for some improving sorts to lay down a marker for next season.
2,000 Guineas, Newmarket
The build-up to and early stages of the new Flat racing season always revolve around Newmarket in May for the first Classics of the season. The 2,000 Guineas is that first Classic, featuring a selection of the best three-year-old colts in training. Run over 1 mile, this historic race has been won by some of the best horses of all time since its inauguration all the way back in 1809.
The 2,000 Guineas always takes place on a Saturday in May and is followed by the fillies’ equivalent, the 1,000 Guineas, the next day. The day’s racing also includes the Palace House Stakes (a Group 3 sprint) and the Dahlia Fillies’ States (a Group 2 held over 1 mile 2 furlongs).
Lockinge Day, Newbury
The Lockinge is one of the major highlights at Newbury, a Group 1 of around a mile that includes the likes of Brigadier Gerard, Cape Cross and Frankel on the roll of honour. Held in mid-May, this is the clear highlight of the day and is the course’s only top level race on the calendar.
The Group 3 Aston Park Stakes is another one to watch out for on the day though, the one and a half mile race won back to back in 2018 and 2019 by Crystal Ocean. With a nice mix of other contests, including a couple of listed races, this is definitely a great Saturday to make a trip to Newbury.
The Derby, Epsom
The Derby is the second colts’ Classic of the season. Like the 2,000 Guineas, the Derby is open only to three-year-olds but is a markedly different race. For a start, the Derby takes place over 1½ miles so is a significantly tougher test of stamina. Then there are the severe undulations at Epsom that make life all the more challenging for the horses. Having the speed and early season fitness for the 2000 Guineas and then following that up with the stamina to win the Derby is the mark of an absolute star.
The Derby is arguably the most prestigious flat race in the entire world. It is certainly a contest that all owners, trainers and breeders want to have on their CV so it often sees international entries. Each of the jockeys competing in the Derby dream of winning it but they’re also enthused by some of the other races on the June card at Epsom including the Princess Elizabeth Stakes, the Diomed Stakes and the fillies’ Classic, the Oaks, which takes place the following day.
Royal Ascot, Ascot
There is no Flat racing meeting quite like Royal Ascot. It is Britain’s most valuable meeting by far, with over £7 million of prize money given out across its five days. The final day falls on Saturday and is massively popular with the racegoing public and those who prefer to watch on from the comfort of their own homes.
The organisers at Ascot like will often make changes to the schedule of the five days but they always ensure that there are several top class races to bring the curtain down on Saturday. The Diamond Jubilee Stakes, Coronation Stakes and Wokingham Handicap have all played key roles on the final day of Royal Ascot in recent years but whatever the exact lineup, it is always a cracker.
Northumberland Plate, Newcastle
When Newcastle Racecourse decided to rip up its flat turf course and replace it with an all-weather layout there were more than a handful of dissenting voices. It is fair to say the decision has proven to be a wise one though as Newcastle now hosts a string of excellent all-weather contests whilst important historical races such as the Northumberland Plate have been given a new lease of life.
The Northumberland Plate is one of the richest 2 mile handicaps in Flat racing. It is always a hugely entertaining race and the betting is incredibly competitive. That has remained the case with the race taking place on the new Tapeta surface, even if it wasn’t one of those races threatened by unsuitable ground, taking place as it does in either late June or early July.
Eclipse Stakes, Sandown Park
Sandown Park hosts some top class Flat and National Hunt racing. When it comes to the summer months there is no bigger race at Sandown than the Eclipse Stakes (also known as the Coral-Eclipse). Named after one of racing’s early superstars from the 18th century, the Eclipse is a prestigious Group 1 race that takes place over the exact distance of 1 mile 1 furlong and 209 yards. It always hosts a high class field and is supported by a good card including the Coral Charge, Coral Distaff and some valuable handicaps.
Mill Reef, Brigadier Gerard, Sadler’s Wells and Sea The Stars are just some of the equine legends to have landed the Eclipse in its long history. With a handsome purse up for grabs a top class field is guaranteed so this really is an excellent Saturday of racing.
July Festival, Newmarket
The July Festival isn’t at the same level as Royal Ascot but it is still a very important fixture on the Flat racing calendar. It was originally a midweek fixture but has been moved later in the week so that it now ends on a Saturday. The highlight on Saturday for many is the July Cup, a Group 1 sprint which can often throw up a surprise result. Those who prefer the opportunities presented by big field handicaps are also well catered for, with the Bunbury Cup the standout in that regard.
King George Weekend, Ascot
Top level racing makes a quick return to Ascot after the Royal meeting with King George Weekend which is held every July. As the name suggests, the headline of the meeting is the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Run over a mile and a half, the Group 1 race is up there with the very best middle distance contests for older horses in Europe, on a par with the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in France.
The calibre of horses competing in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes is always of the highest level. Every winner of this race is one of the best horses around but there is a special place for horses like Enable and Galileo who were able to serve it up to their elders in the July of their three-year-old campaign.
Glorious Goodwood, Goodwood
Like Royal Ascot and the Newmarket July Festival, Glorious Goodwoood is one of the jewels in the crown of the Flat racing season. Set in the picturesque course in the Sussex Downs, Glorious Goodwood is a huge draw for racing fans and includes more than enough high class racing to keep punters busy throughout the five days of superb action which culminate on a Saturday.
The pick of the races on Glorious Goodwood’s Saturday is the Stewards’ Cup, a sprint handicap in which a large field of over 20 horses compete in a mad dash for the line over 6 furlongs. A true cavalry charge, not only is the Stewards’ Cup one of the racing spectacles of the year, it’s also one of the most active betting markets.
Ebor Handicap, York
For many racing fans, the Ebor Festival at York is better than any of the prestigious meetings taking place at Ascot, Goodwood or Newmarket. York Racecourse has a passionate group of fans who always make the trip to the Saturday of the Ebor Festival which includes its feature race, the Ebor Handicap.
For some trainers and owners, the entire season is targeted around the Ebor Handicap. There are few staying handicaps with as much prestige or as big a prize fund as this 1 mile 5 furlong 188 yard contest. With its scheduling in mid-August, the weather even sometimes plays ball, making for a truly brilliant Saturday of racing in North Yorkshire.
Sprint Cup, Haydock
Jumps racing fans know Haydock as a haven for mudlarks. The ground at Haydock quickly becomes incredibly demanding if the rain falls. That doesn’t only happen in the winter months though as the going can often be testing for the Sprint Cup which takes place at Haydock in September. For that reason, this Group 1 sprint can often be won by an outsider, even though top class sprinters regularly head to Haydock for a race that awards the best part of £150,000 to the winner.
Ayr Gold Cup, Ayr
The Ayr Gold Cup is another huge prize in the Flat racing season. It’s an incredibly competitive six furlong handicap which attracts a big field to Scotland for one of Ayr’s most important Saturdays. Competition for a place is such that only horses with a high handicap rating get in which ensures that there are several horses with a realistic chance of winning once the race gets underway.
As if it wasn’t already a tough enough puzzle for punters to piece together, there are always hard luck stories in running in this frantic race. It really is a contest that often demands bravery on behalf of the winning jockey to take advantage of a space as soon as it opens up, so experience and skill in the saddle are a must.
Cambridgeshire Handicap, Newmarket
By the time the Cambridgeshire Handicap comes around in late September the vast majority of the Flat racing season is behind us and thoughts are beginning to turn to the jumps. Oftentimes that means more inclement weather and softer ground, so horses who haven’t had much success over the summer months can often roar back to form. That is, of course, providing that they’ve done well enough to maintain an official rating high enough to get into this 1m1f race which takes place on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket.
British Champions Day, Ascot
The anticipation and excitement about certain horses at the start of the Flat racing season doesn’t always translate into success during it. Some horses simply fail to fire as expected whilst others improve seemingly out of nowhere to win massive races. So it is that the stars of British Champions Day at Ascot always include horses who had rather modest ambitions in the spring.
British Champions Day was introduced in 2011 as a way to celebrate the success of the season and create another top class card. There are four Group 1 races during the day – the British Champions Sprint Stakes, British Champions Fillies’ and Mares’ Stakes, Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and Champion Stakes – and a Group 2, the British Champions Long Distance Cup; as well as the Balmoral Handicap to round the meeting off.
Vertem Futurity Trophy, Doncaster
The Vertem Futurity Trophy is the final Group 1 of the Flat racing season. Many racing fans may still call it the Racing Post Trophy, so long was it known by that moniker. Whatever you call it, it is a race for top class two-year-olds to show what they are capable of over 1 mile and has produced a number of top class winners over the years. No fewer than five winners of the Vertem Futurity Trophy have gone on to win the Derby, whilst 2019 winner, Kameko, followed up with victory in the 2,000 Guineas as well.
Kameko’s win also created history as it was the first Group 1 to be held on an all-weather track in Britain after the race was switched to Newcastle after the course at the usual host, Doncaster, was waterlogged. Abandonment of the final day of the Autumn Afternoon Meeting at Doncaster is rare but soft ground certainly is not at this time of year.
The November Meeting, Cheltenham
The November Meeting (formerly known as the Open Meeting) at Cheltenham is the first major meeting of the British jumps season. In many ways this is the start of the winter season of racing and in others it’s a precursor for the Cheltenham Festival.
There are some key differences between this and the Festival in March though. For one, the November Meeting takes place over the weekend from Friday to Sunday. Saturday’s card features many of the highlights of the November Meeting including the BetVictor Gold Cup, a 2½ mile, Grade 3 steeplechase.
Betfair Chase, Haydock
The Betfair Chase is the highlight of the racing calendar at Haydock and this November slog is the course’s only Grade 1. It has been won four times by Kauto Star, with Cue Card successful thrice. Run over more than three miles, it is the first Grade 1 of the NH season and has at times been part of a £1m scheme for any horse that could land it as well as enjoy success in other races.
The Betfair Million has changed format over the years and is now known as the Stayers’ Chase Triple Crown. This contest is the first leg, with success in the King George VI and Cheltenham Golden Cup needed for connections to scoop the million. Aside from this potentially lucrative chase, the Saturday’s racing action also includes the Betfair Stayers’ Handicap Hurdle, a Grade 3.
Fighting Fifth Hurdle, Newcastle
It isn’t just chasing that has its Triple Crown and the hurdling equivalent kicks off with the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle at the end of November or start of December. Kempton’s Christmas Hurdle and the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham complete the £1m set, the brilliant Buveur d’Air claiming the bonus in 2017/18 as part of a streak of five consecutive Triple Crown titles.
As well as the eponymous Grade 1, Newcastle’s biggest Saturday of racing also typically hosts six other races, with an early start before midday. There is a nice mix of hurdles and chase action, with novices, maidens and juvenile contests all taking place.
Ladbrokes Trophy, Newbury
The Ladbrokes Trophy at Newbury is the feature race of the course’s Winter Festival. The event organisers at Newbury do a very good job of putting on an excellent day of festivities for the large numbers of fans who pour through the gates whilst the racing itself is well worth getting excited about.
At 3 mile 2 furlongs, the Ladbrokes Trophy is a proper test of stamina. The Grade 3 race has been won by some top class chasers over the years as they are tested out against other quality competitors. Punters and racing fans always have a keen eye on Newbury for the next Denman, Native River or Many Clouds.
Tingle Creek Chase, Sandown Park
December is a massive month for jumps racing thanks largely to a packed Christmas schedule. Before the King George VI Chase at Kempton it’s all eyes on Sandown Park for the Tingle Creek Chase.
This contest is run over the minimum distance for a steeplechase of 2 miles and is therefore often used by some of the leading hopes for the Champion Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. Several horses have won both races including Altior and Sprinter Sacre but it has also been won by future Cheltenham Gold Cup horses, including the legendary Desert Orchid and Kauto Star.
Placing a Horse Racing Bet
Horse racing is arguably the sport most closely associated with betting and certainly one of the sports most-wagered on in the UK and worldwide. People have been betting on racing for hundreds of years and even with the vast changes in the betting industry in recent times, horse racing and betting remain inextricably linked.
History and tradition are important parts of the story but the only way that horse racing betting can continue is if new people are attracted to find out what it’s all about. We understand that horse racing betting can be a confusing and even intimidating prospect for newcomers, with lots of strange terms and rules to get to grips with, so let’s have a look at everything you need to know to go from a beginner placing their first bet to a betting expert.
Win, Place and Each Way Bets
Like all other types of racing, horse racing is ultimately about winning races. Trainers, owners and jockeys want to win every race they enter so it’s no surprise that betting on the winner of a race is the most popular form of horse racing betting. Each way and place betting are also very popular options though so this is the perfect place to start our guide to gambling on horse racing.
To place a bet on a win market for a particular race you first have to find the market with your betting site of choice. Bookies work hard to make their navigation as intuitive as possible so you’ll find odds for the closest (in terms of time) races right on the home page. Otherwise, you’ll find the race you’re looking for either on the main horse racing page, the list of the day’s racing or the individual race meeting page, whilst some sites may have a search tool, usually indicated by a magnifying glass.
Once you’ve found the market it’s time to place a win bet. Simply click on the odds next to the horse you want to back and you’ll see the selection added to your betslip. Now it’s time to choose your stake. Enter the stake, confirm your bet and you’ve placed your first horse racing bet!
For the avoidance of doubt, when you back a horse to win a race, your bet will be settled as a winner if the horse finishes first and a loser if they finish in any other position or if they fail to complete the race (often because they’ve been pulled up or have fallen).
If the horse you have backed wins the race you will get more back from the bookie than your stake. The amount of this win depends on the size of your stake and the odds. You will also have your initial stake returned to you.
Each Way Betting
Popular in races with a high number of runners, each way betting can seem confusing but is easy to understand when you realise that an each way bet is actually two different wagers.
If you were to walk up to an on-course bookmaker and ask to place a £5 each way bet, you’d have to hand them £10 in total. That’s because you are placing a £5 bet on the horse to win the race and a £5 bet on the horse to place in the race. The win is one ‘way’ of betting on the horse, the place is the other. Hence, each way.
It is important to check the each-way terms before placing this type of bet. These terms refer to the place portion of the bet. The first term refers to the number of places in the race; the second term refers to the fraction of the odds that place bets are paid out at.
Let’s say you have a £5 each way bet on a horse at 10/1 in a race where the bookmaker is paying out three places (first, second or third) at ¼ of the standard odds. The £5 win bet will only be settled as a winner if the horse wins the race. The £5 place bet will be settled as a winner if the horse finishes first, second or third, returning £17.50 (£12.50 winnings and the £5 stake).
Each way betting is popular because it is possible to make a profit even if your horse doesn’t win the race. In the example above, you’d have a total gain of £7.50 from the bet if the horses finishes second or third but a total win of £62.50 if the horse wins (£50 from the win bet and £12.50 from the place bet).
Some experienced horse racing punters like the idea of each way betting but not necessarily the 50/50 split between win and place bets. The place market provides these punters with extra options.
Place betting allows you to bet on whether or not a horse will finish in the prescribed number of places without having to also place a win bet. The returns obviously won’t be as big as if you were betting on the horse to win the race but the outlay isn’t as big either.
The main benefit of the place market is that you can take the level of chance you are happy with on a given horse. Rather than splitting your stake equally between the win and place portion of the bet you could use 20% of your stake on the win portion and 80% on the place portion if you were less convinced about the horse’s ability to win.
In more recent times, the best online bookmakers have offered even more control over your place betting by giving you the chance to alter the number of places available. Although adding places to your bet will mean the odds offered are smaller, deviating from the number of places available can often be a very good route to winning overall.
Betting “Without” Markets
There is a lot more to successfully betting on horse racing than simply backing the favourite blind. However, there are times when a horse has such a strong chance of winning a given race that the odds available with the bookmaker are not worth taking. When such a race occurs the bookies will often offer what is called a Betting Without Market.
In these markets, the red-hot favourite is effectively removed from the race when it is settled. Thus, if your horse finishes second to the favourite your bet is settled as a winner. Your bet is also a winner if the horse you’ve backed wins the race but the odds will be shorter than if you had backed that same horse in the regular win market.
Ante Post Betting
One of the joys of horse racing is that the season is largely the same year on year. Certainly, that is the case with the biggest, most important races of the calendar. Such is the interest in a contest like the Cheltenham Gold Cup or the 2,000 Guineas that the bookmakers will price up markets way ahead of time, sometimes a year in advance of the race. This is called ante post betting.
Clearly, betting on a horse to win a race months in advance comes with a host of pitfalls. Horses pick up injuries all the time, they lose form and many only perform well when the ground is either firm or soft. If you are happy to take on this extra risk, ante post betting comes with greater rewards because those risks come with bigger odds than you might get closer to the race.
There are few better feelings as a horse racing punter than watching the horse you have backed a long time ago win a big contest. Not only do you get a real sense of satisfaction that your hard work and insight has paid off but you’ll almost always have backed the horse at a bigger price than those punters who waited until the day of the race.
Other Types of Horse Racing Bets
So far we’ve covered the most popular and simple types of horse racing bet. Don’t think it stops there though. There is a world of options out there ranging from special bets for individual races, to chances to win big from the outcome of multiple races and much more besides.
Forecast & Tricast
What happens if there are two or three horses that you really like the look of in a given horse race? You could split your stake over them to cover your options but a better bet would be to investigate the forecast and tricast markets.
A forecast market is a bet where you predict which two horses will finish first and second respectively. Use this sort of bet if you think you know which horse will win and which will finish second. Alternatively, you can place a reverse forecast which covers both options, the two horses finishing in the top two but in either order. This doubles the stake, effectively placing one bet one Horse A/Horse B and one on Horse B/Horse A.
Tricasts work the same way except you are attempting to pick the first three horses home in a race. Again, a straight forecast bet works by you predicting the first three and their order. If you want to cover the options like a reverse forecast, this bet is called a combination tricast.
Reverse forecasts and combination tricasts work in a similar way to each way bets in that they are made up of multiple bets. As said, a reverse forecast is actually two bets on both forecast options while a combination tricast is six bets covering each possible combination from the three selected horses.
Full Cover Bets
If you’ve done any other kind of betting – be it on football, tennis or any other sport – you’ll probably have some experience of multiples betting. Although predicting the winner of a horse race is often more difficult than predicting the winner of a football match, multiples are still popular in horse racing betting.
However, because of the inherent difficulty of horse racing betting, most punters prefer full cover bets to straight multiples or accas. Rather than simply backing a set number of horses to win various races, full cover bets involved a combination of doubles, trebles, quadruples and sometimes even more.
The Trixie is the most commonly placed type of full cover bet. A Trixie includes three selections, in this case horses in three different races. The bet is made up of four separate wagers – three doubles and a treble. You can, therefore, only earn a win from a Trixie if at least two of your selections do the business.
The other full cover bets all work in the same premise. A Yankee, for example, is four selections comprising 11 separate bets – the six doubles, four trebles and fourfold accumulator that can be made using four picks. A Canadian (sometimes known as a Super Yankee) is five selections with 26 different bets, a Heinz is six selections with 57 different bets (hence the name), a Super Heinz is seven selections with 120 bets and a Goliath is eight selections with a massive total of 247 bets. Each of these component bets require their own stake though, so a 50p Goliath will cost not 50p but a rather substantial £123.50.
Full cover bets with singles included are also popular. The Patent is the name of the bet for three selections. A Patent is like a Trixie but as well as the doubles and trebles it also includes bets as singles on each of the three legs. With the addition of the three singles bets, the Patent consists of seven separate wagers; three singles, three doubles, and a treble. In these sort of bets, you only need one horse to win to earn a return but often need at least two horses to win to get back more than you staked.
If you want to back four separate horses in a full cover bet with singles, this is called a Lucky 15 which, as the name suggests, is made up of 15 separate bets. The five-selection equivalent is called a Lucky 31, whilst six bets is called a Lucky 63.
To add an extra layer of complexity to full cover bets (with or without singles included), you can also place them each way. As we saw from the section on each way betting above, this technically doubles the number of bets that you place as each bet is now split into win and place portions. Thus, an each way Yankee consists of 22 separate bets and an each way Lucky 15 consists of 30 separate bets.
While this all sounds complicated in theory, the online bookmakers do all the calculations for you when you place your bet. Simply add your desired number of selections to your betting slip and your bookmaker will display the various full cover options that are available to you and how many bets each include.
The most important thing to remember is that when you enter your stake into the slip for a full cover bet it will be multiplied by the number of separate bets. A £1 stake can very quickly become quite an expensive bet so make sure to be careful and sure of what you are betting on before confirming the bet.
The Tote is an example of a part of the long history of horse racing betting that is still thriving to this day. The Tote’s roots can be traced back to Winston Churchill and the late 1920s. When you bet you bet with the Tote your money goes into a centralised pot and winnings are distributed as dividends based on the number of punters who backed the right horse. This sometimes means that you can a better return on your wagers with the Tote than with a sportsbook.
Although the Tote is a separate entity to individual bookmakers, all of the best online bookies give their customers the option to bet with the Tote. They do this because of the popularity of the various Tote bets which provide punters the chance to win huge returns from meagre stakes.
One such popular bet is the Tote Jackpot. In this bet, punters must predict the winner of each of the first six races of a given race meeting. Any time a horse loses, those who have backed it have their Jackpot bet settled as a loser and their money goes into the pot which is picked up by the eventual winner or winners.
The Placepot is another very popular option as you don’t even need to predict the winner of the six races. Instead, you must predict a horse to finish inside the places of the six given races with those who get all six right getting their hands on a share of the pot come the end of the meeting.
The Scoop6 is a bigger version of the Jackpot in which the best races of a Saturday, or sometimes other major meetings, form the selection of six races. Larger number of punters get involved in the Scoop6 than a regular Jackpot and so the pot is bigger and the dividend can be considerable. The World Pool provides an even bigger pot as the best races from around the world are included and international punters are added to the large numbers of domestic bettors.
Odds in Horse Racing
Horse racing betting has a huge number of variables you must consider. The form of horses, trainers and jockeys, the difference in racecourses, the weather and going conditions, the conditions of the race, etc. There is so much to think about that a common mistake is punters getting too bogged down in the detail before they understand the basics.
A thorough understanding of odds, how they work and what they mean is about as basic as it gets. Without this understanding though, you have no way of knowing whether your bet is good or bad value.
How Odds Work
At their most basic, horseracing odds are a reflection of a horse’s chance of winning a race. The shorter the odds, the better implied chance of winning a horse has. Conversely, bigger odds suggest a worse chance of winning.
When you see a horse priced at 2/1, the odds are suggesting that for every three times the race is run, hypothetically speaking, the horse will lose twice and win once. Thus, they have a 33.3% chance of winning with a 66.6% chance of not winning. A horse at 9/1 has an implied chance of winning of just 10% as the odds suggest that for every 10 times the race is run the horse will win once and lose nine times.
Horse racing betting odds are most commonly displayed as a fraction but are sometimes displayed in decimal form. You can switch between formats with your online bookmaker to make things as easy as possible and see the prices in the format that you are most familiar with.
Although the bookmakers work very hard to ensure that they have covered all the angles and that their betting markets are as efficient as possible, odds are ultimately subjective. Your job as a horse racing punter is to work out where the odds are incorrect and suggest a horse has a worse chance of winning than they actually do. That is what is known as a value bet. Consistently finding value over a long period of time is the most economical form of horse racing betting.
Calculating Your Winnings
So, we have seen that odds are a short-hand way of seeing a horse’s chances of winning a race. The other key bit of information they give you is the amount of money you stand to win should you horse be successful.
Let’s take the example of a horse priced at 2/1 from above. When it comes to calculating your winnings, 2/1 means that for every £1 you place you will get £2 back in winnings if your horse gets the job done. Remember though, you also get your stake returned with winning bets.
Taking the second option of a horse at 9/1 from above we can calculate your potential returns from a £5 bet. As we know, you’ll get £9 winnings for every £1 you bet when the odds are 9/1. So, the simple calculation to work out your overall return from a £5 bet is £5 x 9 = £45. With your initial stake, that’s a total return of £50.
The Starting Price
If you take the time to look back through the form of a horse one of the key pieces of information you need is the price that a horse started the race at. For example, this lets you know how much of an upset or otherwise a particular run was. However, the various bookmakers do offer slightly different prices, so the horse racing industry uses the Starting Price to best reflect the odds of a horse.
Commonly known as the SP, the Starting Price is an average of the price offered at the start of the race across an appointed selection of bookmakers. For a long time, the SP in Britain was taken solely from on-course bookmakers. This changed during 2020 when on-course bookmakers could not attend race meetings due to health concerns so online prices had to be used. Those changes were largely subsequently reversed but the industry is always looking at ways of ensuring the accuracy of the Starting Price.
Best Odds Guarantee
Bookmakers are always keen to find new ways of getting more customers and keeping their current customers happy. That is great news for punters who have a wealth of horse racing offers to choose from, with Best Odds Guarantee (BOG) one of the most commonly used.
Traditionally, when punters placed a horse racing bet they were asked in the betting shop whether they would like to take the current price or go with the Starting Price. Each punter had their own preference subject to the type of race and odds, etc, but it was often just luck whether or not they made the right decision. The Best Odds Guarantee offer removes this element of luck as it ensures that winning bets are paid out at whichever is bigger, the price taken at the time the bet is struck or the Starting Price.
Different bookmakers will choose different starting times for their Best Odds Guarantee to begin, but all of them operate the offer in the same way. This is now offered by almost all bookies so if you like racing make sure your bookmaker of choice has BOG as standard.
Important Horse Racing Rules
Horse racing is a unique sport with its own set of rules. The same is true of horse racing betting which has a few key rules that you must understand. Let’s have a look at the most important of these.
We talked earlier about ante post betting and the inherent risks that come with it. If the horse you have backed in an ante post market doesn’t run in the race, you lose you bet, even if, for example, tragically, the horse has a significant injury before the race. It isn’t quite that straight forward when you bet on the day.
Horses are pulled out of races on the day quite often. It could be that the ground has changed due to heavy rain or that a vet has found some problem with the horse. When this happens to the favourite the shape of the race changes considerably and the chances of the other horses improve markedly.
Therefore, it wouldn’t be fair for the odds taken earlier in the day to stand. In these circumstances Rule 4 comes into play. This rule, which applies the same across all licenced bookmakers, reduces the winnings of all bets. The size of the reduction changes subject to the odds of the withdrawn horse or horses, with a fixed chart denoting what amounts to a percentage deduction in winnings based on the odds of the horse or horses that withdraw.
Withdrawals in Multiples
Rule 4 applies to individual races but the reductions will affect accumulator winnings as and when they are applied. However, the main rule with regards to non-runners and accumulators is much simpler to understand.
Let’s use the example of an accumulator with five selections. If one of the horses in that selection is withdrawn from the race, that leg of the bet is simply made void. The odds and potential winnings change relative to the odds of the withdrawn horse and the rest of the bet continues as a normal fourfold.
It’s the same story for full cover bets. The withdrawn horse is also effectively withdrawn from the bet. This reduces all the component bets by that applicable leg, whilst if the bet was a single it is disregarded entirely.
Non Runner No Bet
We covered ante post betting above but it’s worth briefly talking about Non Runner No Bet offers. These are provided by the bookmakers for the biggest meetings of the year such as the Cheltenham Festival or Royal Ascot. Non Runner No Bet offers give punters an extra level of protection with their ante post betting in that bets are voided rather than settled as losers when horses are withdrawn.
The bookmakers usually do a good job of promoting these offers because they are very popular. It’s always worth having a quick look around though to find when Non Runner No Bet offers are live as they make a big difference. Should your horse not make it to the post you simply get your stake back, increasingly as cash but occasionally (if the offer is Non Runner Free Bet) as a free bet.
Does it Matter Which Bookie You Use?
The online bookmaking industry is incredibly competitive. Bookmakers push the boat out when it comes to their welcome offers, the choice they provide their customers and through loyalty schemes. That makes it a very good time to be a punter, providing you know what to look for. So, let’s go through the main ways that bookmakers differ and what you should be aiming for.
Sign Up Offers
As the old saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. The best online bookmakers live by that maxim in as much as they work hard to provide prospective customers with some very tempting sign up offers.
These offers vary considerably. Largely though, they come in the form of free bets, bet tokens, money back offers and odds boosts. Make sure that the offer you’re taking advantage of suits your style of betting and that there are no overly onerous terms and conditions such as a minimum number of bets requirement.
Customer retention is just as important for the bookies as welcoming new players. For that reason, you’ll find a host of long-running offers for horse racing punters. Whether it’s weekly free bets when you place a certain number of wagers, accumulator bonuses or extra places, make sure that the bookmakers you choose look after you for a long time.
Offers are great but the main way that a bookmaker can stand out from the pack is by providing their customers with better odds than the competition. When shopping around for a new bookie, pay close attention to the odds they are offering both on major horse races but also the minor meetings that you may wish to bet on.
As we have seen, horse racing betting is about much more than just backing the winner of one race. It is, therefore, very important that you are not hamstrung by a bookmaker’s lack of choice. Have a look at a few horse races before signing up and make sure that the bookmaker you are investigating has a wide enough market choice to suit your horse racing betting style.
Ease of Use
The speed with which you can navigate a bookmaker’s website – both on desktop and mobile – may not seem as important as the market choice, odds or offers available but it’s the sort of thing that you won’t notice until you’re struggling to find a race in the minutes before it’s due to go off.
It is vital that you have a play around on a bookmakers’ website and mobile site or app before signing up to avoid missing out when you are pressed for time.
Responsible betting is a key feature of the betting industry. Betting is meant to be a form of entertainment but it can become problematic for some people so any bookmaker who does not take their commitments to the safety of gambling seriously is one to avoid.
Every online bookmaker is required by the UK Gambling Commission to set out the steps they take to keep their customers safe. The dedicated section of each website should be easy to find. Once you have found it, make sure that there are a wide range of tools available to you.
Things like deposit limits, time out reminders, links to independent charities and organisations and self-exclusion tools are all important. Hopefully you don’t feel as though your betting is a problem and that remains the case. Nevertheless, for the health of every punter and just in case things change, you must have access to help, support and tools.