A Newbie Racegoer’s Guide to Placing a Bet

Photo Credit: Paul McMillan.

Having a bet on a horse can be an entertaining spin on a day’s racing. While there’s no guarantee to picking a winner, here we simplify the process so you know your way around.


What do I need?

Upon entry at the track there should be racebook stands selling race programs which contain all of the crucial information about the races held and the horse’s running. This is your insight into what’s happening at the track.


How to read a race card

A race card helps you make an informed decision about which horse to bet on. It explains all the key information about the horse and it’s recent race record, jockey, trainer and owner. It also indicates the colours (known as silks) of your horse, so they’re easily identified on course.


Choosing a Bookmaker

Once you find a combination you like – it’s now time to decide with whom to gamble your precious pennies. You’ll be faced with online options plus a host of independent and commercial bookmakers on course providing what’s known as an “odd” which is a dollar figure placed on each horse in the race. Generally, the more popular the horse the lower the odd therefore in order to win big, it’s best to back an outsider and cross your fingers and toes.


What to look for in a horse

If you prefer to focus on the eye candy rather than the hard facts in the race program, head down to the pre-parade ring to inspect the magnificent thoroughbreds before they race. Look out for calm but alert horses with their ears pricked, looking like they’re experts at their job, with a shiny coat and cool demeanor.


What bet to choose

  • A safe bet to place is in fact a ‘place’. This will give you bragging rights if your horse places first or second.
  • Feeling confident? Go for a ‘Win’. This means your horse must finish first for you to win your bet.
  • If you’ve got two favourites and you want to put them both forward, opt for a ‘Quinella’. This will give you the winning ticket, as long as they cross the line in first and second order.
  • ‘Trifecta’ this means you’re feeling lucky and you’ve got three horses you think will finish first, second and third in that exact order.


The “Going”

You might hear this term thrown around and it basically describes the quality of the racetrack. This is affected by weather leading up to and on the day, and the horses performance can go either way depending on this, so it’s an important factor to consider.


Like any gamble, it should all be for a bit of fun but nevertheless, you’ve got to be in it to win it!

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