Horse racing bet types - Learn all horse racing bets | LeoVegas

Horse racing bet types explained

Just like with an athletics race or an F1 race, what most people want to know is: who’s going to win, or who did win?

But that’s not the only important aspect of a horse race, nor is it by any means the only betting market available.

There’s plenty more on offer, especially for the savvy punter looking to find angles beyond just who the winner might be.

So, let’s look at different types of horse racing bets, how they work, and why they’re a good alternative to straight bets on the winner.


Types of bets to back a horse

There are lots of horse racing bet types that punters can bet on and which are available depends a lot on the bookie, and the market (country) it’s laying bets to.

Straight Win Bet

It will probably come as no surprise to you that the vast majority of the money wagered on any given race is on who will be ‘first past the post’ or to put it in simpler terms: which horse wins.

Factors affecting win market odds

Bookmakers take into account endless factors when pricing up a horse’s odds to win.

These include taking into account the strengths of the horse, the jockey, and the trainer. They’ll also consider whether that particular racecourse suits the horse in terms of whether it’s a left-handed or right-handed track and the going, which is how hard or soft the grass is on that particular day. Some horses prefer the ground softer, while others like it harder.

Win market terminology

The horse with the lowest odds and therefore the greater mathematical chance of winning the race in the eyes of the bookmakers is known as the favourite, or the jolly.

The horse with the next lowest odds is known as the second favourite, the next one as the third favourite, and so on.

In cases where there are two horses that are exactly the same odds as favourites, both are then the joint favourites; it’s very rare for there to be more than two joint favourites in any race.

The horses available at bigger odds, say 20.0 or greater, are known as outsiders, or rags.

Dead heats and disqualifications race

A dead heat is when, with the help of a photo taken at the finishing line, known as a ‘photo finish’, the race stewards deem that two horses finished the race at exactly the same point.

When this happens, you’ll get paid out at half the odds at which you backed the horse.

In some situations, a jockey or the horse itself is considered to have hampered another jockey or horse, and the horse may be subsequently disqualified after having originally won the race.

If this happens, the runner-up is promoted to the winner and any bets on the original winner automatically become losing bets.

Place Bet

This is one of the more popular horse racing bet types. If you think a particular horse has a good chance to finish in the Top 3 or Top 4 but you don’t think it will actually win, you can back it to Place.

If you back Pink Pony to Place, which in this case means finishing in the Top 3, it doesn’t matter which position in the Top 3 it finishes, as long as it’s in that first three.

The odds ‘to place’ are generally proportional to the odds of it winning. So, if Lucky Luke has odds of 15.0 to win, it will be around the 5.0 mark to finish the Top 3.

In some cases, a bookmaker will only offer one ‘To Place’ market and whether that’s Top 2,3,4, 5, etc depends on the type of race and the number of runners in it.

For example, if there are 16 or more runners in a handicap race, then four places will be paid. Non-handicap races will usually only pay out three places irrespective of the number of runners.

Horses with fewer than five runners generally only have a Win market, not a To Place.

Some bookmakers may offer more than one ‘To Place’ market on the same race.

Best Odds Guaranteed doesn’t apply to the ‘To Place’ market.

In the US, ‘to Place’ bets are known as ‘to Show’ bets.

Each-way Betting

One of the slightly trickier types of horse racing bets to explain. An each-way bet is a combination of a winning bet and a to place bet, within the same bet. More precisely, it’s two separate bets within one bet.

Let’s say Tiger Tim is 20.0 to win The Grand National. Each-way terms determine that you get paid 1/5 odds on 4 places, and you decide to back Tiger Tim each way for 10 GBP.

The way it works is that you place 10 GBP on it winning and 10 GBP on it finishing in the Top 4, so a total of 20 GBP.

Unlike the ‘to place’ bet it makes a huge difference where in that Top 4 Tiger Tim finishes.

If Tiger Time wins, you get paid out on both parts of the bet. So 10 GBP x 20 = 200 GBP on the win part of the bet. And then 10GBP x (20÷5=4) equals 40 GBP on the each-way part of the bet because by winning, Tiger Tim by default also finished in the Top 4.

If Tiger Tim finished second, third, fourth, or fifth, you’d only get paid out on the each-way (place) part of the bet.


Exotic horse racing bets explained

If just relying on one horse to do the business doesn’t do it for you, there are exotic bets to consider.

Exacta/Straight Forecast

An Exacta bet asks you to predict who will finish in the first two in a race in the correct order. In the UK it’s often known as a straight forecast bet.

So, your bet would be that Jimmy Giant would finish first, with Big Hill in second. You need both parts of the bet to come good for it to win.

In very competitive races and especially where your selections aren’t favourites, the payout on a winning Exacta bet could be pretty big.

Quinella/Reverse Forecast

Here you’re betting on the two horses that will finish in first and second but in this case, it doesn’t matter in which order they do so.

So, using the example above, as long as Jimmy Giant and Big Hill are first and second in any order, you have a winner.

It’s obviously easier to win on a Quinella than on an Exacta, so the odds will be considerably shorter on a Quinella.


This one works the same way as an Exacta except that you need to pick three horses to finish first, second, and third in the correct order, rather than two.


Taking things a step further, in a Superfecta you need to pick the first four, all in the correct order.

Super High 5

The last of this type of exotic bets and you guessed it: you need to pick the Top 5, all in the correct order.

Of all the types of horse racing bets, it’s right up there with the toughest to win on, but rewards are huge if you pull one off.


Horse racing accumulators guide

Those who prefer to turn their attention to more complex horse racing betting systems can take their pick from a number of horse racing accumulator bets. Here are some of the more popular ones.


One of the simpler examples of a horse racing acca. You decide that at Epsom, in three separate races, you like the chances of Ginger Ninja, King Richard, and Polly.

Rather than backing them individually, you put them in a Trixie.

In a Trixie, you start by placing three doubles, which would be as follows:

  • Ginger Ninja/King Richard.
  • Ginger Ninja/Polly.
  • King Richard/Polly.

And you round things off with a treble:

  • Ginger Ninja/King Richard/Polly

As long as two of your three horses win, you’re guaranteed that one of your doubles wins.

If all three win, you’d win on each of the three doubles and then again on the treble, as well.


This one is the next level up from Trixie. Because it involves four horses rather than three, this time there are 11 bets in play rather than four. Let’s say Mickey Mouse is the fourth selection in this case.

The 11 bets would be as follows:

Six Double Bets For example, Mickey Mouse/King Richard, Mickey Mouse/Polly, and Polly/King Richard.

Any two horses winning, and you’re guaranteed at least one winning double.

Four Treble Bets For example, Mickey Mouse/Polly/King Richard and Mickey Mouse/Polly/Ginger Ninja.

As long as three of your four horses won, you’d be guaranteed at least one winning treble.

One four-fold accumulator The last bet covers all four horses so would be: Mickey Mouse/Polly/Ginger Ninja/King Richard.

You’d need all four to win this one, of course. But then again, if all four won you’d win on all six doubles and the four trebles in the process.

Stakes and payouts

Because you’re essentially placing 11 different bets for the same value, punters tend to keep stakes on Yankee bets small, so maybe just 1 GBP per bet for a total of 11 GBP across the Yankee as a whole.

The more of your horses who win, the better of course. But how much you win also depends on which of the horses won. Or more precisely, their odds.

So, if of the four, Ginger Ninja and King Richard were the biggest odds, those would be the two you’d most want to win.

Lucky 15

Works exactly the same way as a Yankee but with one difference: you also place four singles in addition to the six doubles, four trebles, and the one four-fold.

So, with the extra four singles, that comes to 15 bets rather than 11; the clue is in the name.

Like with the Yankee, all 15 selections have to be for the same value.

‘Normal’ horse racing acca

Of course, racing accas don’t need to be as complex as the ones just mentioned.

Just like you can place a straight double on Arsenal and Chelsea to win, you can also just place a simple double on Ginger Ninja and King Richard winning, without involving other horses, or having so many different types of bets involved.


Different types of horse racing bets at LeoVegas

Which types of racing bets you choose to place depends on a number of factors, the most important of which is what type of punter you are in terms of how you see risk and reward.

If finding big-priced horses who you think have a good chance of placing and occasionally winning is your thing, you might enjoy playing the ‘To place’ and ‘each way’ markets.

Alternatively, if you really like the chances of three or four different horses in different races on any given day, maybe Trixies and Yankees are more your cup of tea. After all, pick two winners from those and there’s a decent chance you’ll end up in profit.

Of course, if you’re the ‘go big or go home’ type then maybe those near-on impossible Trifectas, Superfectas, or Super High 5s are more your thing.

It’s worth pointing out that not all these bets are currently on offer at LeoVegas. On any given race, you’ll be able to play the win and each-way markets and in many cases, LeoVegas will select one or two of the more fancied horses and offer odds on them on the ‘to place’ market.

On some of the bigger races, LeoVegas may also offer additional markets to the ones just mentioned, such as the winning distance of a particular horse. For example, ‘Swan Lake to win The Derby by two lengths or more’ at 4.0.

Best Odds Guaranteed at LeoVegas

Here at LeoVegas, we have the best betting Odds Guaranteed (BOG) promise. Here’s how it works.

Say you back Golden Lake at odds of 10.0 at 11am. Its Starting Price (the odds at which it was available at the time the race goes off) was 12.0 and it goes on to win.

Thanks to BOG, you’ll be paid out at the Starting Price odds (12.0) as they were bigger than the odds at which you backed it.

But the reverse is also true. If you backed Golden Lake at 10.0 and its Starting Price was 8.0, you’d be paid out at 10.0.

The BOG offer at LeoVegas applies to all UK and Ireland races and applies to all bets placed after 10am on the day of the race.