Comfortable and Furious

Betting on Horse Racing: A Guide

The practice of betting on ponies originated in 17th century England under King James I’s reign, and later the tradition was welcomed by countries like Hong Kong and Australia. Interestingly, statistics prove that 5.9% of Australian adults take part in horse racing betting every year. In 2015, around $310 million was bet on the Melbourne Cup, Australia’s most prestigious horse race event.

With the advent of reliable online betting platforms like Sportsbet, betting on ponies is no more a herculean task as bettors can weigh the odds and place the bets from the comfort of their homes. However, as far as beginners are concerned, they need to understand the basics to formulate their strategies and make their betting experience a stimulating one! This article attempts to familiarize the beginners with the basics of horse racing betting so that the next time they place their bet on ponies, they can take their game to the next level!


A significant source of confusion for beginners is that there are different types of racing bets. It is fundamentally important to know them before entering the betting arena.


This type of bet falls under the category of straight wagers, and it is one of the most straightforward bets that rookies can make. Everything that one needs to do is choose a horse and predict where it will finish in the race. As the word ‘win’ would imply, your horse must finish first for you to win the bet. The selection will have to be over either first or second to win the stake in the case of a place bet. In a selection bet, the bettor would wager on a horse, and if the selection finishes in any of the first three slots, the bettor will win.


Other than straight wagers, there is another category called exotic betting. Here, the bettor would wager on multiple outcomes simultaneously. It means one would bet on various horses at a time. EXACTA (wagering on two different horses to finish first and second in the same order). QUINELLA (wagering on two horses to complete first and second in any order) and DOUBLE (choosing the winning horses of two consecutive races) are some popular forms of exotic betting. The rules and regulations of each variety differ, and hence one cannot mention one set of standard rules here.



The performances of thoroughbreds on natural surfaces and synthetic tracks vary. Dirt tracks are not compatible with some of the ponies’ hooves, and recent studies prove that there is a significant reduction in the number of injuries after the conversion of dirt tracks into synthetic tracks. Mainly, there are three different types of synthetic tracks: Tapeta, Cushion and Polytrack. The key is to understand the past performances of horses on different surface types. For instance, if a horse has an excellent record on Polytrack and dirt is the surface that one is focusing on, eliminate the horse from the favourites list.

CONSIDER THE ODDS Odds are how the rates are displayed on the sportsbook. Odds are affected by various factors such as the number of people placing the bet, track records etc. Learn the odds and determine the favourites. One can convert the odds given in fraction into a probability percentage. For instance, 1/1 would mean that there is a 50% chance of winning the bet. Similarly, a 2/3 would mean that there is a 60% probability.