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How to Bet on Horse Racing - A Step-by-Step Guide

KILBEGGAN 8 July 2022 Racegoers enjoying the racing at the County Westmeath venue with L R Ann Reynolds from Sonna Olive Connaughton from Rathdown and
© Photo Healy Racing
Betting adds to the intrigue and interest around the sport of horse racing. The excitement of winning when you place a bet on a horse is a great thrill and adds to the fun of finding a winner or a horse to finish in the places.

If you are new to racing and betting, you can refer to our betting guide pages which detail all you need to know about types of bets and multiple bets, including the punters' favourites the Lucky 15 and Lucky 31.

How to Place a Bet

There are different ways to place a bet on horse racing. You can either bet while you are at the races with on-course bookmakers, online or in a high street betting shop.

How to place a bet on-course

  1. Choose your selection from your racecard.
  2. Once you have made your selection, decide how much you can afford to stake on the race. This should never be more than you can afford to lose.
  3. Choose the bookmaker you would like to place a bet with. Most punters will choose the bookmaker offering the best odds for their chosen horse. On-course bookmakers are usually located close to the running rails.
  4. If you have decided to bet €5 on a horse number 6, approach your preferred bookmaker and ask for ‘€5 to win on number 6’ or ‘€2.50 each-way on number 6’.

  5. If your horse wins the race, return your betting slip to the bookmaker and pick up your winnings.

How do I place a bet on a horse online?

  1. Once you have studied the form and chosen your horse, head to the website of your preferred bookmaker.
  2. Click on the ‘horse racing’ tab this will take you through to the horse racing meetings.
  3. Click on the meeting of your choice and the races will appear.
  4. Find the selection you would like to bet on.
  5. Click on the odds of the horse you would like to bet on.
  6. This will bring up the betslip
  7. Type in the amount you would like to bet
  8. Click the ‘place bet’ button

Don't have a betting account yet? Find a list with all bookmakers tested by our racing experts, that offer the best betting offers for new customers here.

Common Terms & Phrases in Horse Racing

Sometimes it feels like horse racing and betting have their very own language, below are some key phrases to help you along the way.

  • Price - this is referring to the price of your horse. For example, if your selection is 2-1, then 2-1 is its ‘price’.
  • Odds-on - this is regarding the price of a horse when it’s strongly fancied to win a race. It means your return will be less than your stake.
  • Fixed-odds - when bookmakers offer fixed odds and the odds do not change, regardless of whether the horse's price shortens or lengthens.
  • Outsider - one the biggest-priced horses in the field, this reflects that the horse’s chances of winning are less than a horse with shorter odds, although this is subjective.
  • Favourite - the most fancied horse in a race, the short price reflects its chances of winning is greater than that of an outsider. Again, this is subjective.
  • Long Odds - bigger odds such as 14-1 or 33-1. Bigger odds refer to the chances of winning as more unlikely.
  • Short Odds - shorter odds reflect that the horse has a better chance of winning a race. Odds such as 13-8 or 15-8 are examples.

Tips for betting at the races

  • Take a look at the horses in the parade ring before you place a bet. This will give you an idea of how they are behaving in the preliminaries. If a horse is very sweaty or excitable, it can be a negative. By contrast, a relaxed horse may have a greater potential to run well.
  • Where can I place a bet on a horse race? If you are at the races, you can place a bet at the Tote or with the on-course bookmakers. Alternatively, you can bet online or at a betting shop on the high street.
  • Check prices with all the bookmakers before you place a bet as odds differ between bookies.
  • Keep a tight hold of your betting slip. It is frustrating if you lose your betting slip and your horse wins!
  • There is always staff around to help you with how to place a bet on a horse, so don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Types of horse racing wagers (and your chances of winning)

Type of BetExplanationChance of Winning
Each-wayHorse must finish in the placesGood
PlaceHorse must placeGood
WinHorse must winAverage
Reverse ForecastHorses must finish 1st and 2nd in any orderAverage
ForecastHorses must finish 1st and 2nd in that orderHard
TricastHorses must finish 1st, 2nd and 3rd in that orderVery Hard
Double (pick 2)Both horses must winHard
Treble (pick 3)All three horses must winVery hard
PlacepotPick six horses to finish placedExtremely hard

Useful Betting Tools for the Races

A day at the races is an exciting experience but you may want a few pointers to enhance your raceday experience, alongside a few tips on how to bet horses successfully.

Racecard - grab yourself a racecard when you first enter the races. It will consist of information about the horses running on the day, as well as useful raceday information

Irishracing.com - bring your mobile along and access irishracing.com for runners, riders, all the best stats and unmissable tips from our expert team. You can also access our betting guide to help you to place a bet.

Binoculars - bring your binoculars with you so you can track your horse through the race.

Our Sign Up Betting Offers & Free Bets

More Reading

There is plenty more content surrounding betting and how to place a bet on horses available to you here. Check out our other pages for information on: