Beginners Guide to Horse Racing Betting

Horse Racing Betting

If you’re a beginner to horse racing betting there is much you will need to learn. We provide all the basic betting information that a newcomer will need to enjoy a day at the races; including definitions, explanations of basic horseracing wagers, and much, much more. Take the time to study the basics of horseracing before heading to the track, and who knows, you just might find a new favorite past time!

If you are heading to the track for the first time you will need a program and a racing form. These are available for purchase at the track. If you plan to play the races from home, you will want to purchase an online racing form from one of the excellent data providers like Thorougbred Sports Network (TSN) or BRIS. The Official Daily Program contains important information about the day’s races including the horses, their morning line odds, the jockey that will ride the horse, race distances and much, much more. Programs are usually available near the track’s entrance.

Once you have arrived at the racetrack, you will need to find seating. At most, if not all, tracks you will have to pay extra for entry into the clubhouse or for reserved seating. Some tracks also have box seats available. After you have settled on your seating, and have taken the time to review the track program and/or racing form, you will want to check out the horses.

The Paddock

The best place to look at horses is the Paddock. The paddock is where the horses get saddled prior to the race. After the horses are saddled, they are walked around a ring. This is where you can observe how “your” horse looks. Examine the horse to verify that it is alert yet relaxed, loose and light on its feet, not sweating excessively, has a shiny coat and generally looks ready to run.

Horse racing Betting

If you have studied the racing form and looked at the horse, it is time to place a bet. One note about betting: Unlike other forms of gambling, you are not playing against the house when you bet on the horse races. Horse betting is actually a competition with the people around you. This is why it is possible to win at the races! When you are competing against other people – the public – it is wise to invest the time necessary to beat them.

Playing against the other horse betting gamblers as with horse racing is referred to as pari-mutuel wagering. The money that is wagered is pooled, with a separate pool being kept for each type of wager. If you win your bet you get part of the pool. How much depends on how many other people win with you. The good thing is that somebody always wins.


Betting on horse racing usually takes one of the following forms:

Fixed Odds Betting:

Fixed Odds betting is offered predominately by on-course bookmakers. With fixed odds betting the operator offers odds against the chances of each runner winning or running a place in a race. Customers then place a bet on that runner at the odds offered at that time, and the stake of the bet is multiplied by the odds on offer. If successful, the punter receives the resultant amount plus his original stake.

Totalisator Betting:

A totalisator is a system used to enable persons to invest money on events or contingencies with a view to successfully predicting specified outcomes of those events or contingencies and to enable the money left after the deduction of commission to be divided and distributed as dividends among those persons who successfully predict those outcomes.


Straight Bets

With straight bets, you are betting on one horse to do a specific thing – Win, Place, or Show. Straight bets require a minimum risk of $2 on track, or you can bet as little as $1 through a betting outlet such as Pinnacle. Below are the types of straight bets as well as a brief description of each. Go to our betting strategy page for a more complete description of each type of bet.

Win – You win if your horse finishes 1st.

Place – You win if your horse finishes 1st or 2nd.

Show – You win if your horse finishes 1st, 2nd, or 3rd.


Exotic Wagering

Some people like to be a little more daring in their betting. Exotic bets offer a chance to turn a small amount of money into a much larger amount of money.

Exacta – You win if you select the 1st and 2nd place horses in a race in the “exact” order.

Trifecta – You win if you select the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place horses in a race in the correct order of finish.

Superfecta – You win if you select the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place horses in a race in the correct order of finish.

Daily Double – Daily Doubles require that you pick the winner of two consecutive races before the running of the first race in the sequence of races. Daily Doubles are usually offered on the first and last two races of each racing card.

Pick 3 – You win if you select the winner of three consecutive races. The bet must be placed prior to the running of the first race in the sequence.

Pick 4 – You win if you select the winner of four consecutive races. The bets must be placed prior to the running of the first race of the Pick 4 sequence.

Head-to-Head – Some tracks offer a head-to-head (H2H) wager. The H2H wager is a race within a race. You pick one of the two designated horses in the race. If your horse finishes in front of the other horse, you win. Please note that your horse does not have to win, place, or show. It just needs to beat the other horse.


 How Do I Read A Form Guide

Read A Form Guide

The (No.) simply represents the horses number in the race.

The (Last 6) simply represents where the horse finished in it’s last 6 starts. You will also see a few letters in amongst all the numbers and I will explain all of these shortly.

The (Br) simply represents the barrier that each horse starts from.

The (Jockey) is the horses rider.

The (Wgt) is simply the weight which the horse will carry in the race.

The (Form). Here you will see a multitude of different letter’s, but what do they all mean?

T – Means that the horse has won before at this same track.

C – Means that the horse has won before at this same race distance and at this same track.

D – Means that the horse has won before at this same race distance, but the win was at a different track.

W – Means that the horse has won a race on a track rated SLOW or HEAVY.

B – Mean’s that the horse started favorite at it’s last start, but it did not win.

H – Means that the horse is trained on this same track.

N – Means that the horse has won a race before at a night race meeting.

X – Means that the horse has had a spell, which means the horse has not started in a race for 3 months or more.

F – Means that the horse has fell in a race.

P – Means that the horse was pulled up by a jockey in a race.

L – Means that the horses jockey fell off the horse in a race.

The (Career) simply represents the total number of starts the horse has had and where the horse finished, 1st, 2nd & 3rd.

The (Trainer) is the name of the horses trainer.


The most confusing part of horse racing for all beginners is working out what all the different betting types actually mean.

So here are all of the most popular betting types simply explained.

Win Bet: Your selection must win for you to collect.

Place Bet: Your selection must place (1st,2nd or 3rd) for you to collect.

Eachway Bet: Your selection can either win or place for you to collect.

Quinella: Your selections must finish in the first two placing’s in any order e.g. (1st,2nd) or (2nd,1st).

Box Quinella: Taking multiple box selections for example (1, 2, 3 & 4) and if any of these selections finish in the first two race placing’s, then you will collect e.g. (1,2) or (2,3) or (4,1) etc.

Exacta: Like a quinella, however your selections must finish in an exact (1st & 2nd) order for you to collect. Generally this bet type pays more than a quinella, because the odds of you winning are actually lesser.

Trifecta: Your selections must finish in the exact order (1st, 2nd & 3rd) for you to collect.

Multiple Trifecta: Basically this a way of enhancing your chances of winning by playing more possible winning sequences. For example: You choose a horse to win, which is your banker (1) and this horse must win and then you choose your horses e.g. (2 & 3) on the second line, which means that either of these horses need to be placed second and then on the third line you once again have your horses e.g. (2 & 3) and again either of these horses must place third. So your winning sequences for you to collect would be either (1/2/3) or (1/3/2).

Box Trifecta: You are boxing your trifecta and increasing your number of winning sequences. For example if you box the numbers (1,2 & 3) you can collect if the result is (1,2 & 3) or (1, 3 & 2) or (2,1 & 3) or (2, 3 & 1) or (3, 2 & 1) or (3, 1 & 2).

First Four: Picking the first four placing’s in order (1,2,3 & 4). This bet type although very tough to pick correctly, will pay a small fortune if do you select it correctly, for example in a race like the Melbourne Cup.

Double/Extra Double: Picking the exact winner of two different nominated races.

Treble: Picking the exact winner of three different nominated races.

Quadrella: Picking the exact winner of four different nominated races.

Source:@Pinnacle