A Beginners Guide To Horse Betting Terms & Bets

The races are always a big event for many people – they come in their droves, sporting the best fashion to mingle and have a nice day out. One of the other activities that are extremely popular on the day is having a cheeky bet on the horses – but what do half of the terms bettors and bookies use actually mean?

If you’re a newbie to the world of horse betting then be sure to read this handy guide to get a running start. You can of course go deep and get things such as each way bets explained in more comprehensive guides. We’re going to give you a brief introduction to the wide world of betting on horses, with info you can use whether you’re going to the races or staying at home to bet!

Odds explained.

Before you place any bet, you need to understand what the odds mean – especially if you want to get the best odds possible. 

In the UK, odds for most types of betting are displayed as fractions. They’re displayed in a format such as 2/1, which would mean for every £1 you wager, if the bet comes through you’d get £2 back as well as your original stake on top.

Not all odds will be shown with a 1 on the right-hand side. Some odds come in weird fractions – like 10/4. This would simply mean that for every £4 wagered, you’d get a return of £10 as well as the original stake.

Picking your bet using the odds

Now that we know a little about the odds, how do you pick which horse you want to bet on? Whilst there is a myriad of different factors that go into it – such as the weather on the day, the age of the horse, the experience of the jockey and more – we’re going to look at it from an odds perspective.

In general, bookies will give whichever horse they think has the best chance to win the worst odds. So if a horse that is 1/1 odds is in a race against a horse with 7/1 odds, the bookies strongly favour the 1/1 odds horse, as it has much lower odds.

Theoretically, The 1/1 horse has the best chance of winning – on paper at least. The horse with the worst odds in the race is technically called the outsider, and whilst it has the worst odds on paper, if your bet on the horse does come in you stand to win the most amount of money.

Picking which horse you want to bet on in this method mainly comes down to your betting style – do you want to play it safe and back the favourite? Or do you want to play a wildcard and hope the outsider comes in, netting you a bigger win?

Fixed odds explained

Let’s say that in our above example of the two horses, the odds were fixed. This would mean that if your bet were to come in, you could collect your winnings no matter what. The odds of horses can often shift right before a race – the 7/1 horse may drop to 4/1. But thanks to the fixed odds bet you placed, you would still get the 7/1 odds paid out.


You may also come across the term SP in horse racing, which stands for starting price. Betting at SP simply means that you won’t know the odds of your bet until the race has actually commenced.


The term NR means the horse is a non-runner. This happens when the jockey decides the horse won’t be competing in the race. If you bet on a horse and the horse turns out to be a non-runner, then your stake will be given back to you.

What are the most popular bets?

Some of the most popular bets to place are:

Win – betting on a horse to outright win the race

Each way – betting on the horse to either win or come within the top places. Again, see a more comprehensive guide on this since it’s quite complicated!

Doubles – Select 2 different bets for 2 totally different races – such as a race in Cheltenham and a race at Aintree. Winnings can be huge with these bets.

Treble – betting on three horses in three different events.

Trixie – This is a special bet made up of 3 doubles and a treble.

Yankee – Another special bet made up of 6 doubles, 4 treble bets and a fourfold.

RJ Frometa
Author: RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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