This horse racing betting guide will be all you need ahead of the Cheltenham Festival and beyond. Learn more at WilliamHill.

Horse racing betting can seem complex and daunting given the amount of coverage and statistical detail involved. However, that couldn’t be further from reality. Once you get to know the basics of horse racing betting terms, it couldn’t be simpler.

We’ll now break down the jargon in horse racing betting from your SP to your BOG.

Horse racing betting terms explained

Win and Each Way

When you bet on a horse race you can either back a horse to win, which simply put means if the horse wins so do you, and similarly if it loses so do you. Or you can back it Each Way (EW). If you back it EW then half of your bet, otherwise known as your stake, will be on the horse to win and the other half will be on the horse to place. A place will often be the top-three but can vary according to the number of horses in the race. If your horse does place then you will be rewarded with a winning bet of half your stake at 1/4 or 1/5 of the odds, but don’t worry, odds will be covered later.


A bet involving more than one selection with the winnings from each selection going on to the next selection. All selections in an accumulator must be successful to get a return.

A beginners’ guide to horse racing accumulators


A Canadian consists of 26 bets involving 5 selections in different events. The bet includes 10 doubles, 10 trebles, 5 four-folds plus an accumulator. A minimum of two must win to guarantee a return.


A bet where the aim is to predict both the winner and runner-up in a race. A straight forecast is the winner and runner-up in the correct order, a reverse forecast is the two selections coming first and second in any order.

Lucky 15

A bet consisting of 15 bets involving 4 selections in different events. The bet includes 4 singles, 6 doubles, 4 trebles, and 1 four-fold. Only one selection must win for a guaranteed return.


A bet consisting of 4 bets involving 3 selections. The bet includes 3 doubles and a treble. A minimum of two selections must be successful to get a return.

horse racing

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

Betting odds

Otherwise known as a price, the chances of a horse’s success are reflected in numerical form devised by the bookmaker – horse racing betting odds. This is the first thing to be aware of before putting your money down. Using the Cheltenham Gold Cup as an example the current favourite is 11/4, meaning if you staked the number on the right-hand side (4) you will receive the number on the left-hand side (11) plus your stake. Meaning a £4 bet on Al Boum Photo would return £15 if he was victorious. This principal can apply to all odds you see, such as a £1 bet on a horse at 2/1, if victorious, would return £3. Now, if the bet was to be made on the horse’s SP then that is something different.

Starting price

What does SP mean in horse racing? If you place a bet and don’t take the specified odds at the time, then your winnings will be determined by the horse’s SP or Starting Price. The SP are the selections’ final prevailing odds at the time the race starts. Some bookmakers may tend to offer odds that are subject to BOG and therefore can potentially increase your winnings if you do not take the SP.

Best odds guaranteed

Best Odds Guaranteed (BOG) applies when the bookmaker agrees to settle your bet at the starting price (SP) if it is greater than the price you took when placing the bet. For example, you may back a horse at 2/1 but by the time the race is off that horse is now 5/1. If it wins then you receive £6 as opposed to the £3 you would receive at 2/1.


The shortest priced horse in the race, the market leader, and normally the starting point for most backers.

Market mover

A market mover is a selection that changes in price significantly in either direction, by increasing in odds (drifting) or decreasing in odds (shortening). It can sometimes be profitable to follow horses that shorten up before the off.

Betting calculator

A horse racing betting calculator enables you to check your potential winnings. All you need to do is input your bet information such as the odds, stake, and bet type and the easy-to-use calculator will formulate any returns you may have won. This tool can be particularly useful when trying to work out returns from multiple bets such as Trixies and Yankees.

Betting tips

Horse racing betting tips are selections people have made that they feel have a better chance of winning than what the odds suggest. These can come from industry insiders, form followers, or just someone that thinks they may have found the missing piece of the puzzle. Tipsters will often describe their best tip as a NAP which is their best bet of the day.

Betting online

An increasing amount of horse racing betting now takes place online as people no longer need to go to the racecourse or to the high street to place a bet. Horse racing betting online is simple to do and can be a good alternative if you are unable to visit the bookmakers or the racecourse.