Best Horse Racing Betting Sites in the UK

Horse racing betting in the UK is a market that brings in at least £10 billion a year, and there are no signs of things slowing down. So, it’s no wonder there are a plethora of horse racing betting sites in the UK to choose from.

That sounds daunting, but that’s why we’re here. We’ve put together this guide to help you find the top online horse race betting sites so you can comfortably and safely have a flutter on the ponies whenever you want to.

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Horse Racing in the UK

Horse racing in the UK is the second-largest spectator sport, with some of the biggest evens considered as the most important social events on the calendar.

This is a sport that has stood the test of time, dating back to the middle-ages when in 200 AD in Yorkshire, races would take place regularly.

While the sport endured bans on importing non-continental horses, the first horse race meeting was documented in 1174 at St Bartholomew’s horse fair. Under the reign of King Henry VII, horse racing continued to soar, and several laws were passed addressing horse breeding.

In 1512, the first record of a trophy was noted in Chester, and the oldest horse race was run in 1519 under the title of the Kiplingcotes Derby.

Fast forward to 1605, when James I discovered Newmarket. In 1622, the first Newmarket race played out, with a bet of £100 between horses owned by noblemen. Newmarket hosted the first Gold Cup in 1634.

The first steeplechasing races were held in the 1830s, and William Lynn went on to establish the Grand National at Aintree towards the end of the 19th century.

Horse racing in the UK has a rich history, and so does horse race betting.

Famous horse racing events around the world

Horse racing events take place nearly every month of the year around the world. Not all of them are the same, with some dedicated to hunting racing and others dedicated to flag racing. But they do all have one thing in common – thrilling action that’s well worth betting on.

Cheltenham Festival

The Cheltenham Festival kicks off in March starting with the infamous “Cheltenham roar.” It’s four days of unbridled betting heats and a race between the world’s number one national hunt horses.

Dubai World Cup

Horse racing took off only in the late 1990s in Dubai, but the Dubai World Cup quickly became a leader in horse racing events. There’s a mouth-watering US$35 million up for grabs, making it one of the richest horse races on the calendar.

Grand National

The Grand National takes place every April at the infamous Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool. This race can be dated back to 1839, and today it is spread out over three days and includes other races. It’s a steeplechase that plays out on a turf track of about four miles long. There are 16 jumps throughout the race, making it a demanding event for horses and riders.

Belmont Stakes

The Belmont Stakes happens on a Saturday in June at Belmont Park in New York. It’s been dubbed “the test of the champion,” measuring 1,5 miles in length and taking place on a dirt track. The prize pool for this event sits at around US$1,5 million.

Kentucky Derby

With a prize of US$3 million and a huge fan base, the Kentucky Derby is one of the most valuable horse racing events on the calendar. Several races take place during the event which happens on the first weekend in May at the Churchill Downs Racetrack in Kentucky, USA. The track is known for the US Triple Crown of Thoroughbred, which lasts only two minutes!

Preakness Stakes

Taking place on a Saturday in May, the Preakness Stakes is held at the Pimlico Racecourse in Maryland, USA. It’s fondly called the “the run for the black-eyed Susans,” a blanket that’s made from the state’s flower and placed across the winner’s back.

Royal Ascot

Royal Ascot is popular with punters the world over. It takes place over 5 days with prize money of over £7 million. It’s famous for its connection with the Royal family, who attend annually.

Melbourne Cup

This high-profile horse racing event takes place in November and is held at the Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne. Horses from around the globe arrive to compete for up to $8 million in prizes and the golden trophy.

Prix Arc De Triomphe

Known as the richest flat race in Europe, this event offers huge cash prizes for the first three winners. It’s run over a mile and four furlongs and usually takes place in October.

Hong Kong Cup

The Longines Hong Kong Cup takes place at Sha Tin in December. It’s a thrilling event, which has seen two 3-year-olds winning in the past. Before the race rose to international popularity, it was often won by Australian horses.

Horse Racing Terms

Horse race betting is daunting if you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s a whole other language.

Below, we discuss a few commonplace terms you should know.

  • All-weather racecourse – a synthetic racecourse surface of tapeta or sand.
  • Blinkers – headgear put on a horse to block its view from the sides. This helps improve their focus on what’s right in front of them.
  • Bridle – a piece of equipment that is placed over the horse’s head, giving the jockey some control of the horse’s movements.
  • Cheekpieces – similar to a bridle, cheekpieces keep the horse focused, but their vision isn’t impacted the way it is with a bridle.
  • Classic – flat races where only 3-year-old thoroughbreds compete, such as the Epsom Derby.
  • Furlong – a unit of measurement to measure how far a race is. One furlong equals an eighth of a mile.
  • Handicap – a race where horses carry different weights.
  • Non-runner – a horse that’s withdrawn from a race.

New horse race betting sites

Having a good selection of online horse racing sites that offer good odds and bonuses, along with the odd free bet here and there is crucial.

There are plenty of things to consider when choosing an online bookie, including customer support, a range of markets and regular promotions. 

Mr Play Sports, for instance, offers a variety of regular promotions and a healthy range of betting markets.

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888 Sport is another great site for horse race betting punters, with a rewarding loyalty programme, a place £10 and get £40 in free bets and has a wide range of payment methods to suit your budget and betting preferences, from Skrill to PayPal.

Horse racing Tips

Before you have fun with online horse racing, we have a few tips for you, to help you get the most out of your online betting. 

  1.   Do Your Homework

If it’s your first time dabbling in online horse race betting, you must research the races. The easiest way to do this is to read the race forms. Here, you’ll find information about the horses, jockeys, numbers in the race, draw numbers and previous ranks. 

Most importantly, research the horses. Check out the top three horses and their previous rank, learn about the racetracks and their performance on different turfs, too. 

  1.   Try Different Bets

The more bets you place, the more chances of winning. It works this way with horse race betting, but with a little twist. In traditional horse race betting, there are just 3 options: win, place and show. But online bookmakers give you even more choices and more ways to boost your winning odds. 

  1.   Check the Odds

Odds in horse race betting can help determine your chances of winning. Shop the odds to choose your bet or the horse you want to bet on. Take a look at different horse racing betting sites to see which odds are tops.

Best sites for streaming

Live streaming is a key component for avid horse racing bettors. Watching the races in real-time is important, and fortunately, all the best sites offer live streaming, including:

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Types of bets

There are plenty of horse racing bets you can place online. Here are some of the most popular: 

  • Win bets – betting on a horse to outright win the race.
  • Each way bets – you bet half your wager on the horse winning and the other half on the horse running into a place.
  • Double – multiple race bet. You wager across two races, and to win, both horses must either win or be placed if you have placed an each-way double              bet.
  • Treble – a single bet that spans three races. All three horses must win or be placed for you to win.
  • Placepot – choose a horse in the first six races at a racecourse. Each horse must be placed for you to win your share.
  • Jackpot – pick the first six winners at a certain racecourse. All six must win for you to win.
  • Forecast – correctly predict the finishing order of a race (first and second place).
  • Reverse forecast – pick the first two horses in no particular order.
  • Lucky 15 – this one is made up of 4 horses and 15 bets and broken down into 4 single bets, 6 doubles, 4 trebles and 1 fourfold bet.

How to bet on horses

Once you’ve picked a site to bet at, getting started with online horse race betting is a breeze.

  1. Create an account.
  2. Choose a preferred payment method
  3. Make a deposit
  4. Claim any welcome bonuses
  5. Head to the Horse Racing section

Choose what you want to bet on and add it to the betting slip, along with your wager
There are tons of different markets to bet on at online horse race betting sites, such as:

  • Win or each-way – bet on where a horse will win or where your stake is split in two – one to win and one on the horse to place.
  • Match betting – place bets on one horse to beat another with revised odds.
  • Betting without favourite – if you think the favourite won’t be beaten but still want to back a certain horse, you can place a bet without the favourite at            revised odds. If that horse comes second to the favourite, you win.
  • Distance betting – if you fancy a horse to win and demolish the field, this is the bet for you. Some bookies allow you to lengthen your odds by stating a horse will win by more than a number of lengths.
  • Ante-post – here, you back a horse before the date of the race. This gives you bigger odds, but it’s a risky market and we don’t recommend it for new punters

Betting systems

Getting the hang of online horse race betting? You can try to boost your winning chances with these systems:

  1. Statistical Lay

To lay a horse means you’re betting against a runner. For this to work, you need to find a race with 10 or more runners and identify 3 favourites.
You can then pick out the runners with odds between 3.0 and 5.8 and lay against the one that has the lowest odds.

  1. Back The Beaten

When a horse is beaten in a race, despite being highly touted, the weight of public opinion flows against them in their next race, and this means the bookies increase their odds on that runner.
Even the best horses have bad days. But that means it will have better odds the next time around, making this a viable long-term strategy.

  1. The Dutching System

This strategy ensures when you bet on horses, you will make the same amount of money each time, no matter who the overall winner is.
You’ll need to find a race with 10 or more runners and pick out 2 or 3 of the top-ranked horses with decent odds. Then, work out implied probabilities from those odds, followed by the stake needed for each bet to try and boost your profits.

FAQ

It depends on what you’re looking for in terms of markets, bonuses and customer support. You’ll find the best online horse race betting sites in the UK right here.
You can, but it’s not the wisest option. Rather find a horse you like and learn how to back a winner.
Pick a racecourse and the time your favourite horse is running. Decide on a qualifying bet and place it. The online bet slip will display your bet.
Do your homework, read the form and find out as much as you can about the horse.
It depends on your budget. Typically, Lucky 15 is a popular option as you can bet on several races for less than if you’re staking singles. 
We highly recommend Paddy Power and 888 Sport when it comes to streaming horse races.