Most of us probably already have a go-to site for placing our bets, but it’s worth taking a look to see what else is out there from time to time. Just like how never checking around to see if you can get a better deal on your car insurance means you could end up paying more than you need, never looking at what the competition are offering means you could be missing out on better odds, offers or features.
Below you’ll find some of our favourites, along with their current sign up offer (most betting sites will offer a welcome bonus when you sign up, adding an additional incentive to shop around).
Best Free Horse Racing Bets
The following offers were all able to be used in conjunction with horse racing at time of writing. If you notice any changes or errors, please let us know.
Betfred - Bet £10 Get £30
Betfred are offering £60 in free bets, casino spins and lotto bets when you sign up, deposit and bet £10. Your qualifying bet needs to be at odds of evens or more and you'll need to use bonus code BETFRED60 to claim.
What Can You Use the Free Bets On?
As mentioned earlier, unless the offers have changed since they were last checked, all of the bonuses should be horse racing friendly meaning that you can use them to bet on racing.
However, there may still be restrictions. Some betting sites take a relaxed attitude to their sign up offers, meaning you that aside from a few minor clauses (such as minimum bets) you can use it to bet on whatever you like.
Other sites are a bit more prescriptive in nature and specify what wagers you’re allowed to make with the free bet. These restrictions are most commonly based on the bet type, such as singles, accas or multiples.
To add a little confusion into the mix, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of consistency between the bookmakers. Some don’t want you placing accumulators with their free bets, whilst others only allow it to be used on an acca.
Full Cover Bets, Exchanges & Totepool
Despite what we’ve said thus far, there are a few common exclusions. So whilst the majority of sites vary which bets you’re allowed to use there are some that are frequently excluded. Some for obvious reasons, others we’re not so sure about.
- Full Cover Bets – We’re not really sure why, but lots of bookies will exclude full cover bets such as a lucky 15 or goliath. This is true even of some sites that allow the free bets to be used on large leg accumulators.
- Totepool – Most sites won’t allow their free bets to be used on totepool bets. With totepool you’re not betting against the site, you’re contributing to a pool, so a totepool free bet is a guaranteed loser for the bookie.
- Betting Exchanges – If the bonus is being offered via a traditional fixed odds sportsbook, it normally con’t be valid for the exchange. Obviously this applies to a very small number of sites that offer exchanges, but if you’re using one of those then bear it in mind. Sometimes the sites will have some kind of exchange specific welcome offer so if you’re more interested in peer to peer betting then head on over to the exchange in case there is a more suitable alternative.
It’s All in the Terms
Since the governing body that regulates gambling in the UK (the UK Gambling Commission) introduced their new rules a couple of years ago, it’s made deciphering offers a lot simple. It wasn’t so long ago that the free free came with a set of terms and conditions that required a diploma in Paralegal Practice to understand, but new rules mean that the key terms of the offer have to be simple, written in plain english and visible.
What this basically means is that you should be able to figure out the key details of an offer from reading a couple of sentences. To make things simpler we’ve also copied the key terms and included them with each offer so you can compare them right here on the page.
What About the Betting Sites Themselves?
Putting aside welcome deals for a moment, does it matter which site you choose or are they all roughly the same?
There are a couple of different factors at play here which you’ll want to consider. Some are pretty black and white and can be easily quantified – such as how good are their odds – whilst others are a little bit more like choosing between the fries at Burger King and McDonalds, it all comes down to personal preference.
Are the Odds the Same at All Bookies?
Generally speaking odds will vary between betting sites, although the degree of variation will itself vary by race and horse. In some races you may find the odds for the more likely candidates to be pretty similar, whilst in others you could see some pretty drastic differences.
In the example below you see the odds for four horses from an upcoming race from three different bookmakers. As you can see the odds are almost identical, deviating only slightly for one of the horses from one of the sites:
You can also find these odds below in case that’s easier to follow:
|Horse||Site A||Site B||Site C|
|Know The Score||4/1||4/1||4/1|
In this specific scenario, unless you were planning on betting on Captain Cattislock (and assuming you were going to bet on one of the other three) then it doesn’t really matter who the bet was placed with from an odds perspective.
However, in some races you’ll find slightly bigger differences – such in the example below.
Again we’ve converted these odds to table format:
|Horse||Site A||Site B||Site C|
|See The Eagle Fly||5/2||5/2||5/2|
|Green or Black||10/1||10/1||12/1|
In this race some horses have the same odds at all betting sites. However there are a few differences starting to creep in between Sites A & B and Site C, although it’s going to depend on who you want to bet on.
At Site A/B you can get 5/2 on Progressive compared to 9/4 at Site C. So if Progressive is your horse then betting with Site C would be costing you money as the odds are slightly shorter.
However, Site C has better odds for both of the longer odds horses – offering 7/1 compared to 13/2 and 12/1 instead of 10/1. Clearly if you’re backing Sarceaux or Green or Black then Site C is the way to go.
We should also point out that in these comparisons we’ve been sticking to the better sites. These are the ones we bet with ourselves and the ones we’re happy to recommend to our readers. For this reason you’ll notice that the difference in odds is never huge as they’ll generally try to stay competitive, however there are plenty of other lesser sites, particularity low budget white labels, where the odds will be a lot worse.
It’s Not Just About Odds
Circling back to our first example, even though the odds are very similar, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t advantages to being selective with your choice of bookie. Some sites offer bonuses on a race such as ‘money back if your horse falls’ or ‘get a free bet if your horse finishes second’.
Whilst the offer itself shouldn’t make you choose bad odds over good, if the odds are the same it makes sense to take the promotion if it’s available.
Another common promotion for bigger races are extra places. This is where the place portion of each way bets are paid out to a higher number of places than is required by the BHA. For example, if a race normally pays out to three places you could see a bookmaker offering to pay up to four.
This is particularly common with high profile races such as the Grand National, where you’ll often find bookies pay two extra places.
The benefit here should be fairly obvious as it makes the difference between a bet potentially winning or losing.
You may also find different offers at different bookies, meaning you’ll need to choose the promotion that best suits your bet. For example, you could see a scenario where three sites offer the same odds on your chosen horse but also have the following:
- Bookie X – No offer
- Bookie Y – One extra place
- Bookie Z – Money back if your horse finishes second
The first option, Bookie X, can easily be eliminated as they don’t offer any kind of additional value. Whereas bookie’s Y and Z are probably comparable in value. If you think the horse has a good shot at winning, go for the money back. If it’s longer odds and you’re backing it each way in case it places then the extra place would make more sense.