Most online betting operators have a decent horse racing offer. However, if you are a real GamblerGuy like me, you never settle for decent. Instead, you are always on the lookout for better options and only wager at the best horse racing betting sites.
An excellent horse race betting establishment will have several things. First of all, a reputable regulatory body will license and regulate it. Secondly, it will possess all the latest security certificates and will guarantee the safety of every financial transaction.
In addition, your ideal betting site should also have 24/7 customer support and should offer various payment methods such as eWallets and Bitcoin. Lastly, a superior horse racing wagering provider must have a high-quality betting offer and tons of races to choose from.
As a general rule, bookmakers that have a long tradition in horse race betting are usually solid choices. Some UK bookmakers, for example, have extensive 150-year experience in horse race betting. As a result, they are able to offer lots of exotic bets in addition to straight bets such as win, place, and show. These include betting propositions such as:
- Daily Double (choose the winners of two consecutive races),
- Exacta (horses to win and come second in exact order),
- Quinella (horses to finish first and second in no particular order),
Another strong indicator of what you can expect from a bookmaker is how many races it offers. The best betting providers will have the top events, but also some really obscure ones in their portfolio. This is great as the more events a punter can choose from, the better selections he can make. Not to mention that more events ensure you satisfy your betting needs for the entire year.
Bonuses & Promotions
All of the factors I’ve just mentioned are really important, but produce a maximum effect when combined with the right bonuses & promotions. Promotional offers are a bookmakers’ way of saying thank you to the punter and sweeten any betting deal.
Moreover, they are an accurate indicator of how much energy the betting site puts into horse race betting. For example, please consider the horse racing bonuses and promotions offered by an established UK bookmaker:
- Best Odds Guaranteed on all UK & Irish horse racing events;
- Extra Places on selected race meetings every week;
- Money Back as cash up to €10 if your horse finishes second;
- Bet €10 get €30 (€30 in free bets) on all selections higher than 1.50 (min deposit €10, new customers only);
As you can see, this bookmaker has more than 4 decent horse racing promotions. This means that they value the sport. What is more, it also means that they know what they are doing. Betting with them will guarantee you the best odds and also comes with an enticing money back option to reduce losses.
The last offer in the example above is the bookmakers’ welcome bonus, also known as a new customers offer. A welcome offer is the best bonus bookmaker offers. Moreover, new customers offers are also a great way to separate the wheat from the chaff in the betting industry.
For instance, the Bet €10 get €30 welcome offer is quite enticing as it triples punters’ initial deposit and comes without wagering requirements. That’s on par with the best horse racing bonuses out there. If you see something like this at a betting site, you should rest assured that this is a specialized horse racing bookmaker.
New Horse Racing Betting Sites
I really appreciate it when fellow gamblers follow my advice. I told you that betting sites with a history in horse racing, such as the UK ones, are always smart choices and this definitely still stands. However, there are also some new horse racing betting sites that warrant your time. These may not be rich in horse betting tradition but compensate for that with hard work, nice-looking bonuses, and competitive racing offers.
People usually associate a new betting site with eSports betting and Bitcoin wagering. Betting laymen always link the new kids on the betting block with wagering on CS: GO, LOL, Overwatch, Dota2, and Fortnite. For many people, they are the avant-garde of bookmakers and are only good for betting on cyber gaming. After all, how can bettors associate the ancient discipline of horse racing with eSports pioneering operators, right?
Well, actually, wrong. This is one of the great misconceptions in the betting world. Most new bookmakers these days have excellent regular sports betting offers, and that obviously includes horse racing. What is more, these new operators try hard to impress customers, so they usually offer more enticing bonuses than you would expect. Free bets, odds boosts, early cashouts, and lucrative bonuses are all parts of new bookies’ bonus offers.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should jump head first in that pool of new horse racing bookmakers. As with already established operators, a punter has to check several things before placing his bet. These include the validity of the operating license, the security certificates, payment methods, and the customer support service.
Horse Racing on Mobile
Experienced punters will tell you that nothing can replicate the feeling of placing a bet directly on the racing track. However, if you ask me, they are probably wrong. The chances are that these bettors have never tried betting on horse racing on mobile apps.
Mobile betting apps are the preferred wagering method for most punters these days. Apps are functional and easy to use. What is more, placing a bet on racing is much easier if you use an app than if you use a desktop computer. Nowadays, even people who are at the race track use mobile apps to place a horse racing bet. If they didn’t, they would have to risk losing 30 minutes or so to place a regular bet, and nobody wants that.
My regular readers know that I know a good app when I see it. In fact, I have reviewed quite a lot of them, and let me tell you, betting sites have never set the bar for apps this high. Most apps these days have to compete with superior products from excellent rival bookmakers. This makes any new app better than the previous one, and the margin for error is microscopic.
That being said, it is still up to the punter to choose his preferred horse race betting app. There are lots of high-quality apps on the market, but there’s also lots of rubbish too. Going with a reputable bookmaker is a safe bet, but don’t discard up-and-coming bookmakers simply because they haven’t been around for long. If you see that the app is secure, the bookmaker holds a valid license and everything checks out, go for it.
Live Betting and Live Streaming
Live betting and live streaming are two essential features that your ideal horse racing betting site simply must-have. In fact, most reputable betting sites have these in their offer and picking one which doesn’t would be a terrible move.
Live betting on racing events is important because it allows the experienced punter to make an educated guess on which horse will win the race. Seeing how the horses perform during the race can be of huge help to bettors who are seasoned pros.
This is especially true for those longer races such as the Cheltenham Gold Cup, which is part of the famous Cheltenham Festival. A longer race means more time to act in the live betting market. This is crucial when betting live as short races such as the Kentucky Derby finish within two minutes. This makes it almost impossible to place a valid live bet on them.
The live streaming feature works wonderfully well when combined with live betting. This is because seeing the race live is much better than hearing about it on the radio or watching dots flash on a monitor.
It’s also worth mentioning that live streaming is available to all live events and not just the live bets you place. Most betting sites these days enable their customers to follow all live streaming races after they have submitted a minimum of one bet.
In the past, you could use this feature only on the several events you placed bets on. Today, however, the live streaming option is as comprehensive as you would like it to be. So for me, it’s all the more annoying when I see that a betting website still doesn’t have live streaming, but there are players who frequent the site regularly.
Types of Horse Racing Bets
As I’ve already mentioned earlier, choosing the best horse racing betting site always involves checking the number of betting markets on offer. The only way to recognize a good offer is to understand how different types of horse racing bets work. Here are the types of bets you should know before starting to horse racing betting.
The show is the easiest of all the betting markets listed here. It basically stipulates that your horse must finish in one of the first three ‘winning’ positions.
What this means is that if your horse finishes first, you are the winner. If he finishes second or third, the same is again true. The odds will be the same regardless of which top 3 position your horse finishes in.
The place is similar to show, but the horse has to finish first or second. The odds are obviously higher than the Show bet, but chances to win are lower. In this market, it doesn’t matter whether the horse will finish 1st or 2nd. Both of these outcomes equal a winning bet.
This is the most common type of horse racing wager. To have a winning bet, a punter has to accurately predict the winner of the race. As you can imagine, the odds are much higher in this market, but the prospects of having a winning bet decrease compared to Show and Place.
The Quinella is an exotic bet with which the punter predicts that the chosen horses will finish in first and second position, but without any specific order.
For example, if you are backing Blaklion and Tiger Roll in the Quinella market, you are saying that they will finish either first or second. Blaklion can finish first or second, and so can Tiger Roll. Either way, this would be a winning bet.
It is normal practice to back three horses in this market. This is called to box three horses in betting parlance. This means that a €3 Quinella box bet on three horses would cost €9.
This is because three horses in this market mean three possible winning combinations. If you want to have the same payout as with a €3 stake, you would have to stake three times that amount.
In Exacta horse racing markets the chosen horses must finish first and second in the exact order. For instance, backing Anibale Fly to finish first and Minella Rocco to finish second means exactly that. Anibale Fly has to finish as the winner of the race, and Minella Rocco has to come second. There’s no other way around it if you want to have a winning bet.
Let’s look at two possible options for boxing this bet. The first one is to use all the possible combinations (6) with three horses chosen. A €3 Exacta box bet costs €18 (6*€3). If you go with Tiger Roll, Anibale Fly and Minella Rocco a winning bet would be any of these:
- Tiger Roll 1st, Anibale Fly 2nd;
- Tiger Roll 1st, Minella Rocco 2nd;
- Anibale Fly 1st, Tiger Roll 2nd;
- Anibale Fly 1st, Minella Rocco 2nd;
- Minella Rocco 1st, Tiger Roll 2nd;
- Minella Rocco 1st, Anibale Fly 2nd.
In addition to this option, a punter can also choose to key one of the horses. This means that one of the three horses has to finish first, while either one of the remaining two can finish second. For example, if you choose to key Tiger Roll, he would have to be first for you to have a winning bet. Either one of Anibale Fly or Minella Rocco can finish second.
The Trifecta is another exotic bet, but it is more difficult than any of the previous bets. As the name implies, there are three horses involved, and they have to finish 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. To make matters even more difficult for the punter, they have to come in the exact order the bettor specified.
As with the other exotic bets, bettors can make combinations to increase the chances of a winning bet. However, they all require higher stakes. For example, a punter can key one horse to win and three other horses to come either in second or third.
The Superfecta is an extremely hard bet. This is because the punter has to get the first four horses right and to put them in the correct order. Betting on horses to finish in the exact order is difficult enough when there are only two variables, but with four, it is almost impossible.
However, as with the other parimutuel bets here, a punter can box the bet on five horses and a key one to win. This will increase the chances of having a winning bet significantly. Since it comes with 24 possible combinations though, it will also require a large stake for the punter to have a decent payout.
The Daily Double is another one of those exotic horse racing markets. It stipulates that the punter has to predict the winners in two consecutive races.
A bettor can go with two horses from each race to increase his chances of winning. However, his stake will have to be four times higher as there are 4 combinations involved in this scenario.
Pick 3, Pick 4, Pick 6
Similar to the Daily Double, the Pick bets cover three, four and six consecutive winners respectively. This means that if a punter goes with the Pick 4 bet, he would have to predict correctly what the winners of four subsequent races will be.
Each Way bets are very popular in horse racing. As a result, a decent horse racing betting site should let you place them. With an Each Way accumulator, punters basically place two bets. The first one is that all selections will win. The second one is that all selections will place. To place means to finish second in the race.
It is important to remember that to get maximum winnings; all horses must win. This is the first bet. If you have four horses on your Each Way ticket, all will have to win for the first bet to be a winning one.
If only one of the horses’ places (finishes second), then the first bet is off and the second bet becomes active. It means that the bookmaker will consider all of your selections to have finished second.
It doesn’t matter if all five horses placed or four won and one placed. The odds in all place scenarios are the same. If one horse places, all horses on your ticket finish second.
When placing an Each Way accumulator bet, the betting sites automatically divides your bet in two and doubles your stake. One half goes on all horses to win, and one half goes towards all horses to place. The odds of the place wager vary from one bookmaker to another but are usually 25% of the odds the betting site offers for the horse to win the race.
Finally, a punter should be aware that if only one of the horses doesn’t win or place, the Each Way bet will be a losing one.
Top Horse Racing Events to Bet on
If you are after the real thrill of horse racing, then you should look no further than the top horse racing events to bet on. The Kentucky Derby and the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe are so popular these days that even horse racing illiterates can guess that they are popular horse racing events.
What is more, races such as the Breeders’ Cup and Grand National have become so well-known that they are now an intrinsic part of pop culture. They feature in lots of sports documentaries and have continuously inspired video games and slots developers ever since the 1980s.
Huge Betting Appeal
There are many reasons why top horse racing events are so popular. The first one is the betting appeal that these races come with. As many people will tell you, there’s nothing which compares to spending the first Saturday in May watching the Kentucky Derby.
This is arguably the most important race in the world, and Kentucky Derby bettors attest to this. A punter who has seen his 3-year old thoroughbred outrun his opponents in the dirt and crowd at Churchill Downs will confirm this.
For people who bet on horses, nothing comes even close to celebrating a winning ticket when the horse goes through the finish line. This goes double when the race is the Kentucky Derby, the Breeders Cup Classic or any other illustrious event.
Big Prize Purses
Top horse betting events come with enormous prize purses. Prize pools increase each year and are currently bigger than ever before.
The last time I checked, the Kentucky Derby came with a $3 million prize purse, while the Breeders’ Cup had double that. And these aren’t even the highest purses.
The Dubai World Cup tries hard to outdo every other race in this regard. The best way to do that is to put even more money in the purse, of course. Their 2019 edition came with a $12 million prize purse, and the winners of their top races received mind-boggling $7.2 million.
Prestige and History
As important as prize purses are, there are some things which money can’t buy. Chief among these is prestige. You can throw as much money as you like into an event, but if the best horses, jockeys, and coaches avoid it, people will soon forget about it.
Similarly, if organizers have only established their horse race very recently, they will find it impossible to put it on the horse racing map. They would have to invest a lot of money in it, launch aggressive promotional campaigns, and still won’t be able to guarantee that their efforts will be successful.
The most popular horse races have decades and even centuries-long traditions. That is something which over-enthusiastic race organizers cannot fast-forward, no matter how hard they try. Competing with the Epsom Derby, which started in 1780, will prove to be particularly challenging in this regard.
The last aspect which makes the best horse races as popular as they are is media coverage. People preview events such as the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders’ Cup as early as 10 months before the actual event has started.
As the event comes closer, the media starts covering the race on a daily basis, and horse racing news outlets start going into overdrive. Even if you are not into horse racing, you will probably find out that some race that goes by the name of the Kentucky Derby is so important to everyone around you.
The Kentucky Derby is hands down the most popular race in the world. It is the first of the famous Triple Crown races, and racing fans often call it the most exciting 120 seconds in the world of sports.
In those two minutes, even people who follow horses casually watch the proceedings at Churchill Downs very carefully. Just to give you an idea of the popularity of the Kentucky event, there are more than 150,000 people attending the race every year. To put this in perspective, ‘only’ 78,000 people watched the football World Cup final at the Luzhniki Stadium.
The race is classified as a top rank, Grand I stakes event in horse racing parlance. It takes place on the first Saturday in May, and 3-year old thoroughbred horses take part in it. The distance is 1.25 miles (2 kilometres).
Race officials handicap horses in two different ways. Geldings and colts carry 126 pounds (57 kg), fillies, on the other hand, carry 121 pounds (55 kg). In total, there are 20 horses racing in the Kentucky Derby.
To be eligible to compete in the main event, horses must collect enough points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. This is a qualifying system that features lots of races and is the equivalent of the qualifying groups and matches for the football World Cup.
The interesting thing about the Kentucky Derby is that it doesn’t boast the largest prize purse out there. The latest Kentucky Derby purse was $3 million. In spite of the fact that this amount is increasing every year, the Kentucky Derby is still far from the purses of events such as the Pegasus and Dubai World Cups.
The Kentucky Derby takes place on the first Saturday in May. On the third Saturday however, the Preakness Stakes takes centre stage. It is the second race in the Triple Crown calendar and has been around since 1873.
Pimlico Race Course, where the race takes place, is a 10-hour drive from Louisville, Kentucky. The proximity of the two race tracks and the fact that the races are only two weeks apart is perfect for horse racing aficionados looking for the ideal racing-themed holiday.
As in the Kentucky Derby, colts and geldings have to carry 126 pounds, while fillies carry 121 pounds each. Similarly, Preakness Stakes is also a Grade I race but has a slightly shorter distance of 1,900 meters. The prize purse is also smaller than the Derby, and in 2019 the award money reached $1.6 million.
What makes the Preakness Stakes such an exciting race is the fact that it can produce a potential American Triple Crown winner. Winning the Kentucky Derby is very important for any organization, but winning the Preakness Stakes means you are one step closer to that elusive Triple Crown title.
Up until recently, there were only a dozen Triple Crown winners, but Justify changed that in 2018. What makes this even more interesting is that from 1978 to 2015 no horse won the Triple Crown. This speaks volumes about how difficult this achievement actually is, and in the last 40+ years, only two horses have won it.
Belmont Stakes is a Grade 1 stakes thoroughbred race and is the third and final event in the American Triple Crown. The event takes place three weeks after the Preakness Stakes on the first or second Saturday in June.
Compared to the Kentucky and Preakness races, it comes with the same handicapping rules and colts, geldings and fillies take part in it. Unlike the other two events though, Belmont Stakes has a slightly lower purse of $1.5 million and is longer with a total distance of 1.5 miles.
The race track at Belmont Park is probably the fairest big race track out there. It has a long homestretch before the finish line, and all the turns are wide and easy on the competitors. This is something which people never say about the track in Louisville, Kentucky for example.
The 20-horse Kentucky Derby has often been compared to a battle rather than a race. Some jockeys have even gone as far as saying that it is the most dangerous two minutes in sport in which you can get yourself killed.
This is definitely not the case with Belmont though. The track is comfortable for the contestants and is a fitting finale to the Triple Crown in which the best have a fair chance to prove that they really are the best.
The race also goes by the name The Test of the Champion, and this is another indicator of its significance in the horse racing world. American horse racing enthusiasts are certainly aware of this and flock in high numbers to attend at Belmont Park.
Those who cannot find a seat, watch the event at home and break viewership numbers year after year. In 2004, an incredible number of almost 22 million viewers followed the race live on TV.
The Breeders’ Cup is actually a series of Grade 1 thoroughbred races. Unlike the Triple Crown races, organizers change their location every year.
The first race took place relatively recently in 1984. However, that was more than enough time for Breeders’ Cup Limited, the company behind the race to make the event one of the most popular worldwide.
Judging by attendance numbers alone, the Breeders’ Cup is the fourth most attended horse racing event in the US after the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes, and Kentucky Oaks. The two-day’s total attendance for the 2019 event held in Santa Anita was around 110,000.
The increasing popularity of the event also means that prize purses become bigger as a result. The prize purse for the 2007 event, for instance, was $23 million. This increased each subsequent year and in 2018 reached a total of $30 million.
These astronomical attendance numbers and purse amounts are not accidental, of course. In fact, the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) recognizes the Classic, the Mile, and the Turf, as some of the best Grade I races in the world.
The Classic is a premier thoroughbred horse racing event in the US. Many people even put it ahead of the Kentucky Derby in terms of the quality on offer.
It has a distance of 1.25 miles, and 3-year-olds participate in it. The race is one of the most iconic dirt races in the world and for a long time was the gold standard to follow for other ambitious projects such as the Pegasus and Dubai World Cups.
These races may offer higher purses than the Classic these days but have looked up to the Breeders’ Cup top race as the example to follow.
Other than those two races and maybe the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, the purse of $6 million is still one of the highest for a single horse race.
The Turf is a grass course race and horses cover a distance of 1.5 miles in it. Horses who are 3 years old and older participate in the event. People frequently talk about the Turf as the most competitive grass course race in the US. The prize purse is $4 million.
The Mile, as the name indicates, is a mile-long race, and horses who are three years and older take part in it. It is a grass course event and comes with a prize purse of $2 million. There are only two turns in the Mile, and this makes for a fast-paced, high tempo race.
The Grand National is one of the oldest and most popular UK races. It takes place annually at Aintree Racecourse and is the most important race of the 3-day Grand National meeting.
The race is in the handicap steeplechase format and comes with a distance of 4.514 miles (6.907 km). Horses have to jump over 30 fences and must complete two laps.
The race serves as a magnet for the rich and famous and is the most lucrative European horse racing event. The prize purse is £1 million, which to be fair, sounds quite modest when compared to other events from around the world. However, the Aintree race is all about tradition and prestige, and these things are important in Europe.
The Best Grand National Runners
The rich history that the Grand National comes with also means that there have been some iconic Grand National runners over the years. You have probably heard names such as Red Rum, Reynoldstown and Lord Gyllene. Similarly, the chances are that you came across the name Tiger Roll while browsing sports news recently.
These horses won the famed British race, some more than once and they always had a special story to accompany their win. This is one of the things about this race; it always comes with a narrative worthy of an Oscar-winning script.
Red Rum was the most famous horse in the 1970s. He won the Grand National for the first time in 1973 and followed that up with another win in 1974. He could have made it three-out-of-three or four-out-of-four the following two years, but he finished second in both.
Lots of people thought that Red Rum was no longer the favourite by 1977, and bookmakers agreed. They gave him an outsider’s odds of 9/1, and at 12 years of age, many felt that even those odds were too generous.
However, as most horse racing enthusiasts know, Red Rum won the 1977 rendition of the event and put his name down in history as the only horse to have won the race 3 times.
Lots of people think that there would never be a horse like Red Rum and they might be right. This all depends on how Tiger Roll’s last career races pan out.
The horse, which is quite small in stature, has won the Grand National for two consecutive years in 2018 and 2019. In fact, he is still on course to win the race three times in a row as he is still active. Winning three consecutive races is something that even the mighty Red Rum didn’t manage to achieve.
And it is not just the Aintree event that Tiger Roll is setting his eyes on. The illustrious winner has triumphed in four Cheltenham Festival events so far and is frequently the odds-on favourite to win his races.
International Horse Racing Betting Online
The American and UK horse racing events I just talked about are only the tip of the iceberg when discussing betting on horse racing. There are tons of international races that punters can wager on too. Most reputable horse betting sites these days offer various types of international horse racing betting, online markets and illustrious overseas racing events.
Chief among these are events that take place in the United Arab Emirates, Australia, Japan, and France. Two of the most popular international horse racing events come from the UAE. Those are the Dubai World Cup and the Sheema Classic.
The Dubai World Cup is particularly interesting for the international punter as it offers nine races to bet on. Eight of these are thoroughbred contests, and one is a purebred Arabian race. All of these events are top-notch, and the $12 million prize purse for the 2019 event reflects this.
Australia also offers two high-profile races. These are the Everest and the very popular Melbourne Cup. In addition to UAE and Australian events, the Japan Cup is also very popular. The invitational event hosts champion from countries such as the USA, Britain, Australia, Japan, and other racing-crazy nations.
Finally, the French also have something to show for when it comes to top tier horse racing. In fact, the eyes of the world are on France every October when the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe takes place. This Group 1 flat horse race is for thoroughbreds which are three years or older and comes with a mind-boggling prize purse of €5 million.
Locating the best online betting sites is never easy when there are so many to choose from. This goes double when you are a betting novice who wants to place a bet on which horse wins a race, but online betting offers to overwhelm you.
This is where I come in. By following my advice on how to choose the perfect horse racing betting site, you will do two things:
- First, you will fast-forward to the moment when you place that perfect bet and skip all the tedious nonsense inferior bookies serve.
- Second, you won’t fall for the tricks that a lesser website might use. These days all betting operators claim to have the best racing offers in the industry, but only a few speak the truth.
To sum up, to get the best betting experience always go with betting sites that are licensed and secure. There’s no use transferring money from your credit card to your betting account if the money never gets there.
I understand that checking for licenses and security certificates is as interesting as watching paint dry. However, you simply have to do it if you want to have a carefree betting experience later on.
Checking for the payment methods on offer and customer support availability can also be quite tedious, but is once again pretty important.
Once you have covered these aspects, there’s only one thing to do before you can bet on a horse – check the horse betting offer. If the racing events, markets, and bonuses are up to your liking, go with that betting site.