Betting on horse racing is a popular pastime for many punters, and if you’re one of them then there are a few key rules to implement when you’re doing it. These aren’t foolproof ways of making money by any means, but they are certainly valuable tips to consider which can help you to develop an edge.
These are the ten golden rules you need to know about betting on horse racing.
Take a look at the form guide
This is the first thing you should consider when trying to decide where to place your hard-earned money. Don’t just jump in and bet on a runner because you like the colours the jockey on its back is wearing, or you think its name is funny. Inform yourself about the horses’ careers and recent form so that you have as good an understanding as possible about the chances of each runner.
Try to find the best odds available
This is key, and could apply to all kinds of betting, not just horse racing. There are so many different bookmakers available, and while the odds across each of them will be relatively similar, they won’t be identical, and over the long-term ensuring that you get the best odds available can have a major impact. Some bookies generally offer better odds than others – this PlayUp review suggests that they are one such example – but while these are typically a good place to start, it’s still good to look across a few different agencies for each race to find the best available odds for the horse that you wish to place a bet on.
Read the tips of those in the know
There are a litany of tipsters out there giving out their tips, but don’t just rely on one of them. Each of them will have a different level of expertise; if you find somebody that you think you can really trust and who has proven success over the long-term, then following their advice can be a good idea. Alternatively, if you look at a range of tipsters and find some common ground among a number of them in terms of who they think is the best value in the race, this can also be something to consider following.
Know your limits
This relates more to the way that you bet in general rather than specifically to picking a winner, but nonetheless it’s a pivotal factor to consider when betting on horse racing, sports, or anything else. Make sure that you bet within your means, only wagering a sum of money that you are willing to lose. And bear this in mind across a day’s racing, or even longer – it can be a good idea to have a limit for a day, for example, rather than simply betting what you think is a reasonable amount on each race, because if you do the latter this can quickly add up.
Take into account the conditions
Conditions play a major role in horse racing, with rain-affected tracks often resulting in very different results to what a dry track would. Some horses excel with a bit of give in the ground, while others need a firm track to be at their best. Typically bookmakers will have a list of a horse’s results in good, soft and heavy tracks, so take these into account and marry them up with the way the track is on the day.
Pick your spots
It can be easy to fall into the trap of betting on every race, but this is a good way to lose your money – and fast. Instead, try to pick your spots. Bet on races where you think one horse is particularly good value, or you have a specific reason to think that one horse is a great chance to win. If you come across a race where you don’t have a strong feel for things, it’s a great skill to be able to recognise that, and wait for the next race.
Consider the day’s results so far
Similar to the above point, the day’s results so far can provide valuable insight into how a race is likely to be run. On a given day, one part of the track – such as along the rail – might be from where a lot of winners are coming, while on other days the leaders might be having a particularly good run of things. This is often a result of an idiosyncrasy of the track – perhaps the rail is firmer than usual in the former case, for example, or in the latter example it could be that it’s hard to make ground from the back.
Look at the way the odds are moving
The movement of the odds can be a big help to punters, and many actually use them to inform their betting – though not necessarily in the way an amateur might think. It’s easy to look at a horse’s odds shortening prior to the jump and think that you’ve missed your chance to get the best odds, and so instead look for a horse whose odds are lengthening, but this is often not the best way to go about things. Usually, if odds are shortening it means that lots of people are betting on it, and close to the jump it’s often professional punters putting large sums, so following the money can be a savvy thing to do.
Know when to stop
This is another important skill both in horse racing betting and betting on sports and other things. It’s key to know when to stop, whether that be because you’ve had a good day, have lost money, or simply don’t have anything else you feel particularly confident betting on. Knowing when to call it stumps is a valuable thing to know how to do, and those who don’t possess this skill will often end up losing a lot more than those who do.
Do it to enjoy
The last of the ten golden rules of betting on horse racing is simple – do it to enjoy. There are a handful of people who are professional punters and make money from it, but they are a vast, vast minority. Instead, make sure that you are enjoying your punting, doing it as a way to have fun, and you’ll be far better placed to avoid the pitfalls which can come with it for some.