Horse Race Betting for Beginners
  • # Keiba blog
Here is an ultimate beginner’s guide to horse betting types and odds.

Horse race betting is a bit confusing especially to those who are not familiar with how it works. Before you place your bets, you need to determine what type of bet to place. 


Horse Betting Types 


Here are the most common horse betting types you should know: 



Chances of winning: very high 

This is the easiest bet to make in horse racing. To win, your horse must finish in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place. 



Chances of winning: high 

This kind of bet is where your horse must finish in 1st or 2nd place. 



Chances of winning: average 

A win bet simply means that your horse must win 1st place for you to cash a ticket. 



Chances of winning: average 

If you are having a difficult time choosing which horse to bet, you can choose two horses with quinella. However, your horses must win 1st and 2nd place. It does not have to be in order. 


Quinella Place 

Chances of winning: average 

With this type of bet, your two selected horses must win 1st and 2nd place, 1st and 3rd place, or 2nd and 3rd place in any order. 


Bracket Quinella 

Chances of winning: average 

You need to select two brackets to finish 1st and 2nd place in any order.

Bracket No.        Horse No.

1                           1, 2

2                          3, 4

3                          5, 6

4                          7, 8

5                          9, 10

6                         11, 12

7                         13, 14, 15

8                        16, 17, 18


For instance, bracket 3 and 6. 

Note: The colour of the jockey’s hat will identify the bracket number. 



Chances of winning: low 

This is like quinella but your horses must finish in 1st and 2nd place. Though it is considered as a ‘risky bet’ since it has to be in order, you can still win especially if you have an eye in choosing the right horses. 



Chances of winning: very low 

With trifecta, your horses must win the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place in order. Even if horse A won 1st place but the other did not end up in 2nd and 3rd place, you are not eligible to cash your ticket. 



Chances of winning: extremely low 

This kind of bet is also one of the so-called ‘risky bets’. This is because your horses must win the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place in order. 


Daily Double 

Chances of winning: low 

In this type of bet, your chosen horses must win in two consecutive races. It is also the type of bet usually held on the first or last two days of the tournament. 


Pick 3 

Chances of winning: very low  

If you are willing to take a risky bet, pick 3 is the one you are looking for. With this betting type, your horses must win in three consecutive races.  


Pick 4 

Chances of winning: extremely low  

If pick 3 is a risky bet, pick 4 is riskier. To win, your horses must win in four consecutive races. 

Now that you know the most common types of horse racing bets, you should also understand horse racing odds. 


What are the Odds? 


The odds are simply the way prices and payouts are presented. It shows your probability of winning and the amount of money you will win. 

You can easily spot the odds if you see numbers displayed like 2-5 or 4-7. The first number indicates how much you’ll win while the second number is the amount you bet. For instance, if the odds displayed is 2-1, you will win $2 (¥213) for every $1 (¥106) bet. 

Odds are usually displayed in two formats, the fractional and decimal. 



This format is more on the traditional side. It is usually displayed as 2/1. When spoken, you would say this format as ‘two to one’. 



This format is commonly used in Europe on horse racing tournaments with high-end horse racing technology or online. It is usually displayed in the format of ‘5.00’. To determine the amount of your potential win, all you need to do is to multiply it to your stake. 


Reading Horse Racing Odds


Morning Line 

Before wagering officially starts, you should look at the morning line odds. These are the odds placed on each horse by the handicapper. You can usually see this at the racing form or race programme. The morning line is easier to see if you are betting at your favourite online sportsbook. 


Changing Odds 

This is where the odds may suddenly change depending on how many people are betting on each horse. This also happens in any online sportsbook. 



It is called the ‘favourites’ if there is more than one horse with the same odds of winning. It is usually labelled as ‘JF’ or joint-favourites. 


Boxing Your Horse Bets 


Boxing your wager means that you have 2 bets in an exacta, 3 in the trifecta, or any bet that covers all of the winning positions. 

So, if you want to place a $2 (¥213) bet on a boxed exacta, you need to pay double because there will be two outcomes. You will win if your horses finish 1st or 2nd in any order. 

When it comes to boxing a trifecta, it means that you need to select three horses. It is also equivalent to six combinations (123, 132, 213, 231, 312, and 321). These three horses must finish in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place in any order. So, you have to pay 6x your base wager. 

You can also add more selections into your box bets. The more combinations you have, the higher chances of winning. 


Betting Methods 


Aside from lining up and attending a horse racing tournament on a hot summer or cold winter day, here are the different betting methods wherein you can easily place your wagers:  


Telephone Betting 

When online betting is not yet introduced in the market, this betting method was introduced in 1974. It is where bettors place their bets through a telephone call and send the payment via credit/debit card or bank deposits. 


Audio Response System (ARS)

This is the kind of betting method wherein you should use a touch-tone styled phone. 


Personal Access Terminal (PAT)

This is placing your bets using any of your personal devices which are connected to JRA’s PAT system. PAT also allows you to see more information regarding the upcoming or ongoing race, odds, and payouts. 


Internet Personal Access Terminal (IPAT) 

It is a betting system introduced in 2002 wherein PAT subscribers can also place their bets. Bettors can place their wagers through a smartphone or personal computer. This is hugely similar to online sports betting. 


Terms You Should Know


You also need to be familiar with the different horse racing odds terms. This is for you to easily choose the type of bet you want. These terms are:


Late Money

It is when a horse receives a lot of wagers right before the start of the race. 


Odds On 

It is a term used to describe a strong favourite. 


Long Odds 

It is usually an underdog bet wherein you can receive double your stake if you win. 


Short Odds 

It is where you have a high chance of winning but you will only receive a small payout. 


Odds Board 

It is the tote board where you can find the odds of each horse. 



It is a bet that involves more than one selection. These selections are mostly winning combinations. Bettors also call it as multiple bets. 

Best Odds Guaranteed

It is a special offer wherein your bookmaker agrees to settle your bet at the starting price.


Betting Exchange

It is placing bets against other players rather than against the bookmaker. 


Duel Forecast 

It is a reverse forecast wherein the winner and runner-up are predicted. 



It is where you need to place wagers with 7 bets including 3 selections. There are also 3 doubles and 1 treble. 


Void Bet

It is a bet which is declared invalid. The stake is also returned to the bettor. 



It is a term used to call the favourite in the market. 



It is the lowest odds of the horse. It is usually not mentioned in the betting forecast. 


Market Mover 

It is usually a selection that rapidly changes in price. This also results in increasing or decreasing odds. 


Placing Bets Using Automatic Vending Machines 


One of the easiest ways to place your bets is through vending machines. All you need to do is to insert the betting slip and payment. Keep in mind to always check if your betting slip is marked correctly. If the markings are not clear, there is a possibility that the machine cannot read them. 

For horse racing beginners who are not yet familiar with this kind of method, here are the simple steps you need to do:


Step No. 1: Insert Your Money

Make sure that the money is not crumpled or damaged. This is because the machine may reject your payment. 


Step No. 2: Insert Your Betting Slip 

After the notification appeared regarding your payment, insert your betting slip. 


Step No. 3: Insert Your Betting Slip 

Wait for an information box to appear where all of the details and the total amount of bets are written. After checking if all the details are correct, press the confirm button. 


Step No. 4: Get Your Change and Betting Ticket 

You do not have to worry if you do not have an exact amount of money because the vending machine can give you the change. You also need to retrieve your betting tickets. This serves as your proof of wager for you to cash your ticket. 

The best thing about betting tickets is that it is valid for 60 days! So, make sure to keep it in a safe place! 


How to Avoid Big Losses


Losing is unavoidable but you can definitely avoid BIG losses. It is also understandable if you are worried about losing. Well, it is totally normal. 

Here are the tips and tricks on how to avoid big losses: 


Plan Your Bets 

It is fun to place bets as much as you want but there is also a big possibility that your loss is bigger than your wins. To avoid this, make sure to plan thoroughly and set a betting limit according to your betting allowance. Even if you have a lot of money, it is still recommended to place your bets wisely. 


Don’t Bring More Money 

Bringing more money means that you are willing to place huge bets. If you consumed all of your betting allowance, avoid going to the nearest ATM to withdraw more money. Aside from planning, self-discipline is also important. 


Do Your Research 

As you plan your bets, make sure to research the strengths and weaknesses of the horse, jockey, and its trainer. It is also important to look for the horse’s recent wins and achievements. This is to make sure that your bet has the potential to win. Doing this will increase your chances of winning.

Here are some of the factors you need to consider:

  1. Rating figures- it is usually the horse’s best and last race 
  2. Change in class- it is when a trainer puts a weaker horse in a higher class 
  3. Race comments- it is basically the comments regarding the recent performance of the horse 
  4. The company- some companies are better in training horses 


Don’t Focus on Your Favourites 

Your favourite horse will not always win. It is also not ideal to bet all of your money on your favourite horse. To make sure that you’ll win at the end of the day, place your bets on other horses that have the potential to win the race. 


Get to Know Your Surfaces

Aside from the strengths and weaknesses of your best bet, it is also important to consider its performance on different racing surfaces. This is because there is a big chance that your favourite horse runs well on turf than on dirt. 

What are you waiting for? Place your bets and let the odds be with you!