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How horse racing works
Betting on horse racing online comes in many forms. It can be a straightforward wager on who will win. But it can also present a far more complex set of betting options if you wish to pursue them. Over the next few minutes, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about the sport, top race meetings, types of bets and where to place them.
If you’re ready to jump right in, then take your pick of top-quality bet sites on this page. They all have fantastic welcome offers up for grabs and you might even land yourself some free bets in the process.
How we assess and score horse race betting sites
Sifting through all the horse betting websites available in the UK can and does take a lot of time to accomplish. It’s hard for an individual player to review all the possibilities on their own. There just aren’t enough hours in the day!
Lucky for you then that we have an entire team of seasoned pros who are prepared to do all the hard work for you.
They check out all the latest horse race betting sites that hit the scene and pick them apart piece by piece. If they find anything they don’t like, then you won’t see them listed here on this page.
Their process is long and intricate. Which is how they ensure that you only ever get to hear about the very best betting operators out there. Below, we’ll share with you a few of the things that our experts look for when making their full assessment of a horse betting online site.
How many horse racing events can you bet on?
One of the things that helps make a bookie stand out from the rest is the number of events they have available. Most punters like to enjoy a range of bets on different race meets. And they want to find them all in one place.
We always check to see that an operator is happy to provide its customers with all the best online horse racing betting options. From large national festivals all the way down to smaller one-off races in various countries around the world.
Do they offer competitive odds?
And if we decide that they have a great selection of races for you, then it’s time to check out their online horse racing betting odds.
It’s all well and good offering a ton of odds to punters. But if they aren’t competitive, then we’re not interested. We compare the odds on any given market to ensure that a new brand is at least on par with its competitors.
But we know that a bookie can’t offer the best odds for every single race. And that’s why one of our top tips is to always have accounts with several brands. That way you can take your pick of top odds and see which one is the best.
What betting markets do they offer?
Times are changing and gone are the days when you simply had a punt on the winner of a race. Things began to progress with each-way bets and various others that we’ll take a look at in just a moment. And it all started to really heat up with the introduction of live, in-play betting. This is where the sport can truly offer the most exciting betting options around.
A top site will be happy to offer a broad range of markets and keep their customers entertained to the max. Unwillingness to provide this always raises a red flag for our review experts.
Can you place live in-play bets?
Placing a bet on horses online while the race is live is a fantastic experience. It presents an awesome opportunity for those who are not so au fait with the initial racing predictions.
You don’t need a huge amount of prior knowledge to see that a horse is going strong during the race. So at this point, anyone can have a good go at guessing who will finish the race first.
However, knowing who the strong finishers are among the pack can really help you make better selections.
In-play odds may not be as attractive as the ones you can find before the race. But with the added advantage of seeing the race unfold, you can understand that you may need to take a bit of a hit in this respect.
Do they live stream horse racing events?
Live streaming is an essential element of being able to enjoy in-play betting to the fullest. It is possible to read the ticker tape information on some horse betting sites, for example. But there’s nothing quite like seeing it with your own eyes.
It’s not easy to find all the racing action on the internet. You can trawl through many different horse race betting sites in various countries trying to find these races.
And sometimes it’s just easier to place a bet with your favourite horse racing site and get access to the action straight that way. This way, you know that you are logged into a safe site that will not unleash thousands of unsolicited pop-ups on your screen.
Are there bonuses specific for horse racing?
Free horse racing bets are an integral part of attracting new customers. There’s so much competition out there that a bookie needs to make their voice heard in a very noisy arena. The best way they can do this is to present a fantastic deal to new customers when they sign up.
We’ll have a lot more information for you about these bonuses coming up very soon. But one thing we do love to see is a bookie that offers a very specific deal related to horse racing betting.
Which payment options are they offering?
Getting your cash moving when you need it is extremely important. You don’t want to wait around for hours to see your cash hit your UK horse racing betting balance. So it’s key for a bookmaker to give their customers a range of payment platforms.
By giving a great choice to their customers, they are allowing them to make their own decision on how to pay. And this is imperative as not everyone has the same financial services available to them.
Betting markets for horse races
There are many different ways that you can win some cash on top horse racing events.
You don’t have to just pick the winner. Far from it in fact. There are several different markets for every single race. And understanding how they work is vital if you would like to place a wager on any one of them.
This is by far the most simple horse racing bet that you can place. Everybody has an idea of who they think will win the race. It may not necessarily be based on accurate information. Some people simply like the look of the horse or the colours of the jockey’s silks!
We’re not saying this is a reliable method of placing bets. But whichever way you choose to make your prediction, a straight win bet is extremely simple to navigate.
Do yourself a favour, and start reading the form guides to get an idea of who you think will prevail in any given race.
A double bet is not a complicated affair. You only need to make two bet choices instead of one. The only hard thing is to get it right.
The kicker is that you will need to see both selections come good in order to win any money. It does present an added risk. But with this risk comes some handsome odds. You’ll win more this way than if you just chose two separate bets.
It’s not a bet that many newbies like to get involved with. It takes plenty of knowledge to begin to work out the result of 2 races or the placed finishers in one race.
Forecasts present top odds as well. And the reason for this is that not only do you need to guess the winner but the second place as well. This is a tough bet that can payout big under the right circumstances.
You can go for more selections if the field is larger. It’s not impossible to place a bet on horses online on the first 4 horses and guess the correct order, for example. This kind of betting will produce some incredible returns for very little money.
The above forecast bet can be quite a challenge for even the most experienced punter. It’s possible to just have a guess and see what happens. But a pro would never advocate this.
To make things a little easier on you, there is also a similar bet called the reverse forecast. Instead of requiring you to guess the correct place of the first 2 horses, they can come in any order. The odds are naturally lower but you will have a much higher chance of winning.
Each-way bets are probably one of the most popular amongst newbie horse racing fans.
Any of the above bets can require plenty of luck and some decent racing knowledge to give yourself a good chance of winning. But with an each-way bet, you get a much better option. You only need to select the horse that may finish in the top three places.
And if the field is even larger than normal, then it may even be possible for your selection to place in the top four.
This presents a fantastic option for uninitiated betting fans. The odds on this kind of bet won’t be anywhere near as good as a double or straight win bet for example. But you are giving yourself a chance of winning something at least.
Now, this is where things can get very unpredictable. An accumulator requires you to make a number of selections. This doesn’t have to be on several different races but most punters prefer it that way.
You will need to see each and every one of your bets prevail if you are going to move on to the next bet. Each time you win, the odds build up and accumulate on to the next race.
These types of multi bets can produce some incredible odds. But the chances of getting every one of your selections correct is very small. And for that reason, you will be rewarded extremely well by the racing website.
Bonuses and free bets at horse betting websites
Some of the very best welcome offers in the gambling industry can be found at the best horse racing betting sites. There are many different types available so there is sure to be one that suits your pocket.
Some will require you to spend a little of your own cash first while others will just simply land in your lap for creating a new account.
And if you choose to open an account at a bookmaker that is also associated with a casino or bingo site, for example, then you could also see your bonus transferable across many different types of gambling games.
Free bets promotions
A favourite among horse racing fans is the free bet bonus. When you create a new account with some horse betting sites, you will be rewarded with a number of free bets. You can usually make these bets on any races that you wish. But there will probably be some restrictions on the size of the odds that you must select.
The terms and conditions of any deal will tell you exactly how you can play with your bonus bet. And always be aware of any restrictions on the winnings that might result. You may not be able to cash them out straight away as they may only be transferable to other bets in the future.
Deposit bonus promotions
A bonus that requires a deposit is usually a much bigger bonus indeed. Spending some of your own cash shows the horse betting sites that you are prepared to stick around for a little while. And a bookmaker loves to reward your loyalty.
It is not unheard of to see any deposit that you make into your new account matched up to 100 or even two hundred percent by the bookie.
Again, always check the terms and conditions so you know exactly what you need to do to take full advantage of this fantastic deal.
Enhanced odds promotions
Another way to attract the attention of a horse racing fan is to offer enhanced odds on a number of markets.
If there is a big event coming up such as the Grand National, for example, then a site may give you over the top odds on some of the horses.
This can result in winning plenty of extra cash for making a selection that you may have thought was quite obvious. It’s a great way to get new customers on board and our readers are always talking about this kind of deal.
What kinds of horse race types are there?
Horse racing fans can sink their teeth into several different types of races. Each one offers its own unique form of entertainment and has a huge following.
Each of the large festivals that take place throughout the horse racing calendar mainly presents its own races for a particular style. Some race meetings may be for hurdles while others can be plain and simple sprints, for example.
You may think that the faster the race, the more exciting the action will be. However, many races over large distances can also present some exhilarating finishes. As the horses begin to tire and attempt to sprint for the finish you can see some of the very best races unfold. Just take a look at the 1973 Grand National and watch Red Rum prove our point.
They don’t come much more straightforward than a flat race. It’s the runners going all out across a flat surface from point A to point B. These races can be drawn over several distances to create a specific type of race. Those are usually sprints or long distance.
Some horses are naturally better suited to one type or the other. And each race will have its own weight class and rules on age and sex etc.
Trotting is a fun race event that is probably more common in Ireland than it is in the UK. It’s a flat race that has a very specific handicap involved. All of the horses are harnessed in such a way that they can only move their legs a certain distance. This stops them from being able to gallop away – hence the name trotting!
The horses sometimes pull a cart with a rider or they can simply carry the jockey on their back. The race is much slower than most that you’re used to seeing. And for this reason, it’s possible to race on the streets during some local festivals.
Sprints are fast, adrenaline-filled flat races. Riders compete over a short distance of up to 6 furlongs. The horses are not necessarily the most experienced racers but that isn’t entirely important as younger, stronger horses are usually better suited to this type of contest.
You’ll find sprints at several of the big-name festivals and they always draw in a massive crowd. So there’s plenty of betting action to be found here.
Jumps are sometimes a controversial style of racing. Depending on the jumps, of course, they can prove to be perilous to both horse and jockey alike. These races are also known as a steeplechase with the most famous being the Grand National.
Many horses lose their jockeys as they fall jumping large fences. And it’s an exhilarating experience for spectators as betting on longer-distance jump races can be pure guesswork. It’s a great opportunity to take a punt on an outsider with crazy odds.
The most popular horse races to bet on
The UK and Ireland play host to some of the biggest names in the horse racing calendar. The countries share a long-standing history of breeding and racing horses. But there are other places around the world that also have some well-known events. And there are some which are gradually cementing their claim as the next big racing venue.
Most race meetings are part of a much larger festival that usually takes place over several days. There are lots of races on the card that may include a variety of flat and steeplechase contests. Famous jockeys will be on show at various festivals and riding several different horses as well. So it’s not unusual to see the same riders at different meetings on a few different horses throughout the year.
Here are a few of the big-name festivals that often attract a great deal of interest from the punters.
The biggest festival of jump races takes place every March in this beautiful and historical location in Gloucestershire. There are 4 days of top talent on display with some of the most challenging races that the riders will face all year.
The event hosts a massive 28 races with 500 horses all competing among these prestigious events. The whole affair comes to a close with the Gold Cup race, which has been the crowning glory for this meeting since the mid-1800s.
The festival attracts some of the most frenzied betting activity as punters know how unpredictable jump races can be. There’s plenty of money to be earned on decent outsiders who all stand a chance to make a name for themselves.
The Dubai World Cup
The middle east has a long-standing tradition with horses and is responsible for producing some of the finest Arabian studs in the world. Each year, they invite a number of top-class competitors to challenge for numerous trophies.
The races are almost always held at night to account for the scorching heat that hampers the action during the day. And there is always a large royal and celebrity following at the festival. It has become extremely fashionable over the years.
The races come to a head with the final contest on the last day. Leaving one proud trainer to walk off with the World Cup trophy and around £10 million.
Royal Ascot is one of the most historic meetings that you’ll find during the year. It holds so much prestige among patrons and it’s a real ‘who’s who’ of the celebrity, royal and socialite circuit.
The festival has taken pride of place in the Berkshire countryside for over 250 years. It presents 5 days of the best flat racing available with horses coming in from all over the world to compete. There are also 3 major jump races to add a little extra excitement to the billing. It comes to a head with the widely anticipated ‘Gold Cup’ race.
The Kentucky Derby
The Kentucky Derby is well-known for two reasons. It’s a 2-week festival that features loads of top talent and also the name of the final race that brings the festival to a close.
In May each year, Louisville, Kentucky is home to thousands of racing fans who come to enjoy the action. A number of races produce some of the most exciting entertainment in the international racing calendar. And they end up with the 2km flat race by the same name.
It’s all part of the Triple Crown, which along with the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes, determine who that year’s best racers and riders are stateside.
Horse racing bookmakers with live streaming
Many of today’s best bookmakers will present live streaming of several international race meetings.
This is fantastic news as it can often be difficult to find a particular race that you are interested in. Moreover, if you want to enjoy live betting, then it is essential that you are able to follow the action live on your screen.
It’s super simple to find yourself a site that offers this great service to its customers.
Just take a look at the list of trusted horse racing sites here on this page and you are sure to come across several that have live streaming available for their clients.
In-play betting on horse races
Live horse racing betting online has become a big deal in recent years. It’s not just horse racing but many other sports as well that benefit from this exciting form of betting.
There are loads of markets to choose from and you are able to continue to place your bets throughout the race. This gives you an opportunity to see how all the riders are getting on and decide if you want to have a punt.
Again, a lot of the horse racing sites represented here on this page will have this top gambling entertainment at your disposal.
Don’t forget to take a look at the bonus deals available. By grabbing yourself a welcome offer, you may even get some free bets that you can use while the race is in play.
Mobile horse racing bookmakers
Playing on your mobile devices is the latest and most convenient way to enjoy all the horse racing action.
And it doesn’t matter if you have an Android or Apple operating system, you should be able to get this top form of betting on your phone.
Many players love to get involved while they are on the move. This may be on long train journeys or even while on a plane if there is Wi-Fi connectivity. You can get to your account in an instant and everything you need is ready and waiting for you.
Android vs. iPhone
The vast majority of bookies will make their apps compatible with all types of operating systems.
Although there have been some in the past that have prioritised one over the other. But this is usually in the beginning while they are testing their application.
After a while, they will roll their app out to the other OS.
There is no difference in quality that you will receive while playing on either one of these systems.
Bookies and other types of gambling companies love to introduce horse racing betting apps for players to download. It not only offers an incredibly convenient way for their customers to play but there is an added benefit.
As the app is saved locally to your mobile device, it is possible to push notifications through to you when they need to. This allows them to present you with any promos and deals that are happening at that time. It’s a great way for a brand to increase its marketing activity in a very targeted way.
The alternative method for playing on your mobile device without an application is to simply log on to the betting website through your phone’s browser.
The mobile website will be optimised to respond perfectly to any size screen. You won’t lose any of the quality that you’ve come to expect from these top horse race betting sites. A lot of money has been invested in mobile play to ensure that you get the very best experience.
New horse racing betting sites UK 2023
The latest horse racing betting websites come onto the market all the time. As gambling activity hits an all-time high in the UK, so too does the number of available places to get involved.
Our expert team of reviewers checks out every single one that appears on our radar. They will give it an extremely thorough assessment. And if they deem it worthy of your time, then it will appear up here on this page.
Guide to get started in horse racing betting
If you’ve never placed a horse-racing bet online before, then it’s understandable that you may be slightly nervous about getting started.
The good news is that it really isn’t that complicated. And once you’ve placed your first couple of bets, you’ll be enjoying the entertainment like a pro in no time at all.
To give you a head start, we’ve put together a guide to getting started with horse racing betting.
Use our list to find a suitable bookie
If you are unsure where to place your bets, then you are in the right place. Right here on this page, it is so simple for you to look at our selection of legal and trusted bookies in the UK.
Every single one of them has been assessed and reviewed. And our team of experts has come to the conclusion that they are a fantastic place to play. They offer everything that you need to get started and enjoy the very best horse racing online.
Keep checking back here regularly to see what new horse racing sites are available and what welcome deals they have on offer for new customers.
Compare and review odds from different bookmakers
And we often advise our readers to not just stick to one account. It is usually best to have a selection of accounts with different betting operators.
The reason being that you will get a different selection of prices from different horse race betting sites.
If you only have one account, then you’ll only see one set of odds. So you may not get the best return from your investment.
Bookmakers don’t always get it right. Every day they have to select thousands of different prices across hundreds of different race meetings. There’s every chance that you may find that little extra value in a bet sometimes.
And if you have an account at bookies that’s offering excellent odds on an outcome that you think is probably a little bit predictable, then you could earn yourself some extra cash.
Find bonuses that are targeted at horse racing
Some of the welcome deals available for new customers can be incredible. There’s plenty of cash up for grabs as well as free bets as well.
Some of these deals can be a little generic. And they will offer a deal over a broad range of betting options. If you are not interested in casino games, for example, then you are probably not after a promo that includes slots and card games.
Always read the details of each deal carefully and you might be able to land yourself something very specific. If your area of interest lies solely in horse racing, then it’s probably best for you to grab yourself a welcome deal that focuses on this.
Bet on horses/races you have knowledge of
As with any kind of sports betting, it is always best to stick to what you know. It is much easier to make a good prediction when you have a sound knowledge of the sport.
Having a good general knowledge of the overall sport will stand you in good stead. However, knowing a little bit more in-depth information about the horses and jockeys will give you an extra advantage.
Successful horse racing punters will always have their noses stuck in the Racing Post. Publications like this are a great source of info to help you gain the very best understanding of who is likely to win a race.
Signing up at a horse racing gambling site
And now you know how to get the very most out of your horse race betting experience, it’s time to grab yourself an account.
There are many different horse race betting sites available and each of them offers something special to the punters. We will now take a look at the various steps involved in getting your account up and running.
Find a good bookmaker from our recommendations
The easiest way to find yourself a good bookmaker is to take a look at a review site like ours. Here on this page, we will present you with many different options for places to enjoy all the racing action.
Many man-hours have gone into finding the best in the business. And our review experts have done all the legwork for you. This makes it super simple for you to be safe in the knowledge that you are playing at one of the very best legal betting outfits available.
Simply take a look through the list of sites and decide which one you would like to try out first. And remember it is perfectly fine to have an account at more than one of them.
Choose your name and your password
On the site listings that you’ll find here on this page, you’ll notice that there is a button that takes you directly through to the betting site. Click on it and you’ll arrive at the home page.
Here, you will be able to begin the process of getting your account up and running. And usually, the first thing to do is select a username and password.
The username can normally be anything that you like. However, sometimes that username may already be in use so you might have to choose another one.
When you select your password, always make sure it is something memorable but nothing that other people will be able to guess. And we recommend that you never write down passwords for any of your website accounts.
Fill in information about yourself
The next stage when opening your account is to enter any necessary personal details. The site may ask you for several pieces of information. These may include your name, surname and address.
You may also have to provide a telephone number and an email address as well. The purpose of asking you for your email address is so they can contact you to confirm that you want to open that account. It also provides them with a great marketing opportunity to show you any of the latest offers and deals that they have available.
And remember that you may need to verify any of the information that you share with the betting site. Know Your Customer rules dictate that a site must be able to prove a customer’s identity and the source of their funds.
Gambling laws in the UK are extremely tough and if a brand falls on the wrong side of these laws, then they risk losing their gambling licence.
Have a look for any free bets or bonuses
And now that you’ve got your account up and running, it’s time to be on the lookout for any of the bonuses and promotions available.
Free bets and bonus cash are all up for grabs. And as soon as your account is confirmed, the site will usually invite you to select one of these deals.
Always read the details of any offer to make sure you know what you are signing up for.
Pick a payment method and make your first deposit
When you have finished playing with your bonus cash or free bets, you will need to think about depositing some cash into your account.
There are many ways that you can do this and you want to choose one that works best for you and your pocket.
Depending on your deposit method, your funds should be there in your balance ready for you to play straight away.
How to handle payments at horse racing bookmakers
As we said, there are many ways that you can get your money moving. So let’s take a look at a few of the most popular money transfer methods.
Electronic wallets, or e-wallets as they are popularly known, are one of the safest and fastest ways to get cash into your new betting account.
Companies such as PayPal, Skrill and Neteller all offer very similar products.
You can accept payments from other people, or transfer funds from your bank account or another source to top your account up. This money can then be used to pay for all of the action at betting sites UK.
Transferring money in this way is usually instant. Moreover, you can also accept withdrawals to take cash back out of your account. And multiple currencies are also supported.
Debit cards (VISA, Mastercard)
Debit card payments are staples of the internet gambling business.
They are used to take money directly from your bank account and send them straight to the seller. You will be able to get your money into your best horse racing bookies account very swiftly and this transaction type is extremely secure.
Anywhere you see the Visa or Mastercard symbols, you know you will be able to make a transfer in this way.
Wire transfers are one of the oldest forms of money moving services on the planet. They are extremely safe and secure but they do have their limitations.
There are several legalities and protocols in place that a bank must follow. All of this can take some time to complete. So don’t expect to see your money in your balance instantly. You should probably allow three or four days at least to see the payment completed.
Pay by phone
Pay by phone has risen to become one of the most popular forms of gambling payment in recent times. However, there are some issues surrounding using a mobile phone credit in order to pay for gambling activity.
A present, it is perfectly fine to use the service. But do keep an eye on changing legislation as we aren’t sure for how much longer it will be an option.
The premise is very simple. If you have top-up credit on your mobile or you pay by monthly bill, then you will be able to use this as a source of funds for your betting account.
Payment limits are very small. There is a maximum of just £10 per transaction. And it is only possible to pay £30 in one day. So bear that in mind if you are looking to secure a welcome deal. Many new player bonuses require more than just £10 to be deposited into your account.
Furthermore, making withdrawals in this way is not possible. You will need a bank account to receive any funds.
That should just about cover everything you need to know on the subject of horse race betting. But take a look at our FAQs just in case you have missed anything.