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Types of Horse Racing Bets

Types of Horse Racing Bets

Horse Racing is one of the most popular sports to bet on but can be one of the hardest to master.

Due to the different sizes of the fields, from 3 or 4 horses all the way up to the likes of the Grand National which normally has 40 horses starting, the number of winners for each race varies enormously and also depends on the bookmaker you bet with.

Below are the types of horse racing bets we will focus on in this article:

• Win Only Bet
• Place Bet
• Accumulators
• Exotic Bets
• Horizontal Bets
• Vertical Bets
• Straight Exactas
• Straight Trifectas
• Straight Superfectas
• Boxing Bets

Win Only Bet

This is a simple one to understand, you are betting on which horse will win a race. If your choice wins, you win, if they finish 2nd or after, the bet is a loser.

Place Bet

This is where things start to get a bit more complicated. The number of horses that place depends on the number that starts the race. It can also vary from bookmaker to bookmaker depending on how important horse racing is to their players.

As an example, in a race of 10 horses, a bookmaker may pay out the top 3 places. When you place a bet, half the stake will normally go on your horse to win – if they win, this half pays out at the odds the horse started the race at and the other half will pay out at 1/3 of that.

If your horse finishes 2nd or 3rd, then half your stake will lose and the other half will pay out at 1/3 of the horse’s starting odds.

A larger field can see up to 5 or 6 horses being paid out at the respective odds – if 5 horses are paid, you will receive 1/5 of their starting odds or 1/6 if there are 6 paid out.

It is also worth mentioning that some bookmakers will offer the best odds for certain races or more horses paid out than their competitors. If you are betting on horse racing, always keep an eye out for special offers.


This is betting on more than one race and the winner or horse to place in each. If all these bets come in, the bet is a winner, otherwise, if 1 or more loses then the entire bet has settled a loser.

Exotic Bets

Exotic bets come in 2 main forms, vertical and horizontal, and can offer huge odds if you correctly predict them.

Horizontal Bets

These are bets where you need to choose the winner or a set number of races in order to win. A daily double for example is 2 races where you need to choose the winner of both to win the bet. The pick of 6 offers a much larger prize but you will need to choose the winner of 6 consecutive races. With 15-20 horses running, this is a very hard bet to win but can include life-changing amounts if you manage to predict each winner.

Vertical Bets

Whilst Horizontal Bets take in a certain number of races, a Vertical Bet is based on one specific race but involves correctly guessing the first few horses in that race, not just the race winner.

Straight Exactas

Correctly predict the horse that finishes 1st and the horse that finishes 2nd to win the bet.

Straight Trifectas

Predict the winner, 2nd place horse and 3rd place horse, in that specific order, to win the bet.

Straight Superfectas

To win the Straight Trifectas you need to guess the order of the first 4 horses as opposed to the first 3.

Boxing Bets

If the above bets sound very hard to win, it is because they are. It is hard enough to guess the winner of a race containing 10 horses, let alone the first 3 in the exact finishing order.

An alternative is a Boxing Bet

This type of bet lets you choose a set number of horses and then place every combination of those horses to finish in the top x of the race.

For example, if you choose 3 horses then you will place a Straight Trifecta for every combination of those 3 horses finishing in the top 3. Each bet costs the same amount so it is more expensive than a standard trifecta, however even if you bet a small amount on each option you can win a lot if you choose the 3 horses that finish in the top 3.

If you choose 4 horses, it will cost more as you will cover each combination of Straight Superfectas but again, it will pay a lot if the four horses you choose make up the top 4.

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About the author

Jennifer Lynn
Head of Content
Jennifer Lynn has spent 14 years working in the online casino industry, making her a real expert in the field. She's not just skilled at writing about casinos; she also has a deep interest in online gambling games and is a passionate researcher and player. Jennifer offers her expertise on a range of casino games and the smart strategies to use. But her life isn't all about gambling and casinos. She also loves riding horses and practicing yoga, showing that she knows how to balance her professional interests with personal passions.



Can I bet on horse racing online?

Yes. Many sportsbooks offer a thorough coverage of horse racing events. There are also some sportsbooks entirely dedicated to horse racing.


Do online bookies offer different types of horse racing bets?

Absolutely. You can find anything from straight up bets to more complex and exotic bet types on many online bookmaker websites.


What is the most common type of horse racing bet?

The most common type of horse racing bet is the “to win” bet. It is simple and straightforward to understand. In a “to win” bet, all a bettor has to do is place a bet on the horse that they think will come in first place in the race. If their prediction comes true, the bettor wins the prize.


What is the easiest type of bet in horse racing?

The answer is the straightforward “show” bet. It is simple to understand the concept behind the bet, and all you really need to know is who the favorite horses are. So, it is a simple matter of wagering on the favorites. In order to win a “place” bet, all you have to do is wager on whether a horse will place in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd. If your chosen horse makes any of the top three, you win back your cash.


What is the safest type of bet in horse racing?

Again, the answer is the simple straight wager. Betting on a horse finishing in the top three is the safest choice you have, especially if you wager on one of the favorites to win the race.


What is a “show” bet in horse racing?

The show bet is the simplest and safest form of horse race betting. A show bet entails bettors placing a wager on horses finishing in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place. If your chosen horse finishes in any of the three spots, you will win the wager.


What is a “place” bet in horse racing?

The place bet is an alternative to the “show” bet, for punters who are a little more confident, but still not confident enough in their backed horse. Basically, a bettor wagers on a horse finishing in 2nd or 1st place. If the horse comes in either of the top 2, the bettor wins the wager.


What is a horizontal bet in horse racing?

Horizontal bets are a bit more complicated, and recommended to more experienced betting enthusiasts. Simply put, a horizontal bet requires that a wager be put on 2 or more different races. So, not only do you need to pick a winner of one race, but you will need to pick a winner of several different races. And if you get even one wrong, the bet is lost. For this reason, we recommend horizontal bets only after you’ve garnered some major experience in the field of horse racing.


What do you call a 3 horse bet?

A single bet on three outcomes in different events is called a Treble. Trebles are horizontal bets, so all three horses must finish first in order for the bet to be considered won.


What is a boxing bet?

A boxing bet is quite a complex and advanced type of horse racing bet. It requires a player to make three selections, and then choose the order in which they will finish the race. If the horses finish the race in that exact order, the bet is paid out. While the risk is high, the reward is also quite high, which is why boxing bets are very popular among experienced bettors.

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