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Tips for Beginners: A Guide to Horse Racing

Want to start betting on the horses? Check out our top tips to make the most of your wagers


Although the first racetrack was constructed in 1665 in Long Island, many of the big horse races began in 1700’s. The sport quickly became an interest for aristocrats after King James publicised his great interest. Over the years, due to a rise in horse breeding, horse racing has now been valued as one of the most watched sports in the UK and Ireland. Thanks to television and the internet horse racing has grown significantly and still remains a huge success today. 

Race Types 

UK racing as split into two categories. One being a simple flat race, where horses start at the beginning and just run. Whichever thoroughbred finishes the track first wins. Alternatively, there is National Hunt Racing where there is a set course of obstacles in place to challenge the horses and jockeys. 

National Hunt Racing is split into two categories: hurdles and steeplechases. Steeplechase races consist of stronger and higher jumps to be negotiated and conquered. There are often ditch and water jumps involved, whereas hurdle races are significantly easier- often you would find less experienced horses riding a hurdle race. 

Race Classifications

In both flat racing and National Hunt Racing there are classifications according to the amount of prize money involved and the quality of horses, etc. The prize money is often referred to as ‘purses’, so group one would be the horses of best quality and reputation. Similarly, in National Hunt Racing there are group one, two and three with group three being the lowest listed handicaps and least popular horses. The groupings will also be decided on depending on weights which are always released to betters prior to a race. 

Betting Tips 

Horse racing participants and fans place bets in order to feel a sense of enjoyment and excitement. These feelings definitely grow or can even turn to disappointment according to how the horse you’ve bet on performs… but it’s all part of the fun. Here are some basic beginners tips on the different kinds of bets available: - 

  1. Odds 

In basic terms, odds are the relation between how much money you’ve placed on a horse and how much you are expected to receive if the horse does well. Fractional odds will tell you how much is to be expected in return, without your stake included. An easy example of this is, if you’ve placed a bet of £10 at 7/1 then your horse wins, you’ll gain 7 x £10 which will equal £70 in winnings plus your £10 back. The total amount you will receive will be £80. 

  1. To Win

There are numerous types of bets that can be placed on one single race. Though, many beginners usually opt for the ‘to win’ bet. This is a very straight forward bet. You would put a straight bet on one horse and you will have the reward only if your horse comes first.


  1. Each Way

E/W is another simple bet for beginners. You are effectively placing two separate bets if you go for the E/W option. The first bet would be for your horse to win the race and the second is for the horse to be placed. Most races will pay out a stake if your horse comes in the top three places. You will get ¼ of your money back if your horse comes second or third. This is a popular bet if you are starting to branch out and become more competitive in the sport. 

  1. Tricast

If you are having a particular lucky day, you could go for the tricast bet. The tricast bet is when you correctly predict the top three horses of the race, you will also need to guess the exact order they will come in. The rewards for this bet can be staggering. 

  1. Double, Treble, Fourfold,etc.

A double bet is when you are supporting two horses in two separate races. You will regain your stake and extra providing these horses come in. Simply, treble and fourfold stakes are exactly the same but with 3 and four horses. The process continues, with the option of fivefold bets etc. 

Picking a Winner 

There are many areas to consider while placing a bet on a horse, but luck is the main factor to have buy your side. Many people look for pedigree, jockey, trainer, ground conditions, weights, their odds and so on. Overall, beginners mainly depend on luck and that horse racing brings fun and enjoyment! 

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