Horse race betting can seem a complex proposition, given the amount of coverage and statistical detail provided by bookmakers. However, the prospect is simpler than it seems, with even a novice being able to place a bet on a race such as the Grand National with relative ease.

We’ll now break down the simplest actions involving betting on a single race for people who are new to the sport and gambling.


The first order of business before putting your money down will be looking at the odds of the race. Take the Grand National this year, for example, which is a wide-open race after last season’s champion One For Arthur was ruled out due to injury. Total Recall is considered the favourite for the event at 11/1 – using the fractional system. Therefore, if you were to bet £1, your winnings would be £11, giving you a total of £12 with your stake returned. Not all odds have the one stake fraction. There will be times when 7/2 odds are offered, which is a cleaner way of writing 3.5/1.

horse racing

Understanding odds is important in ensuring you pick the right horse for the race

Therefore at 7/2, a £2 stake would return £9, while a £1 bet at those odds would result in a figure of £4.50, including £3.50 profit. There are times when a competitor will be odds-on. This will be represented by a larger number in the second half of the fraction – 9/10 for example. On these bets, the profit will not be more or equal to the stake put forward by the punter. Odds can be expressed in the form of decimals, but in the United Kingdom, those cases are extremely rare.

Win Bet

Anything other than a triumph will see you lose your stake and leave you hoping for better luck next time.

The simplest form of betting. Using the example from the Grand National. Pick your winner – in this case, Total Recall to win the race, betting £1 at 11/1. Should the horse secure the victory at Aintree you will win £11. Anything other than a triumph will see you lose your stake and leave you hoping for better luck next time.

Each Way

This is where you need to pay attention. Racing betting offers a unique system of rewarding punters, who double down on their selected horse. Using the Total Recall example once again, you can bet £1 at 11/1 and receive £11 profit for a victory, but nothing if he loses. Major bookmakers will offer each way for horses finishing in the top three and in some cases as low as the top six.  However, this requires you doubling your stake.

horse racing

Each-way betting can be a good way to reduce losses in the long-term

By selecting the each-way option along with a winner, you increase a £1 to £2. However, you now have the chance of earning a profit even if the horse fails to win, but places within the conditions of the each-way pay-out. Usually, bookmakers pay out ¼ of the winning odds for a finish within the places. Therefore the odds of 11/1 would be reduced to 2.75/1 for a finish within the places. You would still net more than you’re stake and it’s certainly worth the gamble on a top-quality competitor.