The Ultimate Guide of Horse Racing

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Horse racing is an exciting sport, but it can look daunting to an outsider, with a host of terminology, race types and rules to consider. Millions of passionate and eager fans enjoy watching, betting on using sites like Timeform and attending races every year, so if you’re keen to get involved this guide will give you an overview of how the sport works and what you need to know. 


There are two main categories of racing in this sport – flat racing and jumps racing. In flat races, the horses run on a straight or curved track and the winner is the first one who passes the post. In jumps racing, there are obstacles, hurdles and ditches for the horses and jockeys to traverse, making it a much more challenging race. This type of racing is divided into two types of race – hurdles and steeplechases which determine whether the horses have to overcome fences, ditches or water jumps. 

Main UK Horse Racing Events

There are horse racing events taking place virtually every day in the UK, and around the world, but there are some key races you should be aware of. The Royal Ascot is one of the most prominent races, as well as the Grand National, Cheltenham Festival and Glorious Goodwood. There are more than ten main racing tracks around the UK, which include Wolverhampton, Sandown, Southwell and Ayr. The most common day of the week for races to take place is a Saturday, but many of the larger events such as Ascot or Cheltenham take place over several days. 

Betting at the Races

Much of the excitement of this sport comes with the betting, but understanding the different terms is important before you place your bets. The odds determine the likelihood of a specific horse winning and are usually displayed as fractions or decimals. For example, odds of 5/1 indicate that for every £1 you bet you would get £5 back plus your initial stake if the horse you chose won the race. A favourite to win usually has odds on, so the number on the right – which represents your stake in the bet – is larger than the number on the left, which shows your profit. 

Fixed odds are the odds which will paid out if your chosen horse wins. For example, if the horse you backed had fixed odds of 4/1, and the price is reduced to 3/1 before the race begins, you would still win at the odds you bet at – in this case, 4/1. This is known as beating the price in horse racing. Horse racing odds vary and fluctuate all the time, even just hours before a race begins, so bear in mind that the fixed odds can vary depending on a number of factors. The price may increase if the trainer suggests that the horse isn’t on top form or get shorter if the horse is in better form on the day of the race than expected. A non-runner is a horse that isn’t taking place in the race, so if you’ve backed a non-runner on the day, your stake will be refunded to you. 


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