Dave Spice’s advice for newcomers to placing an on-course bet

The Betting Ring can be an intimidating place for a novice race goer. In this feature, for those of you relatively new to the betting game, on-course bookie Dave Spice gives a few tips to help when placing a bet.

The Betting Ring

From afar, us bookies may seem like a bunch of miserable, greedy, moaning gits and indeed for the most part we are! However, we are more than happy to help get your money on to your next big winner. In actual fact, you will find us an approachable lot really – we’re up for some banter and enjoy watching horses run around a field for a living.

Here is my board last season at a point to point. In a typically similar format to my bookie colleagues, the board is written up as follows.

  • The race title at the top
  • the odds of the horse on the left
  • the horse name in the centre
  • the horse racecard number on the right.


The odds to the left show what return you will get for your investment should your horse win the race. Here we can see that eventual winner Double Bank was available pre-race at 2/1. Hence if you had put a tenner on to win, you’d have lightened my satchel to the tune of £30, which is broken down as a £20 profit (£10 x 2/1) plus your £10 stake back.

Generally the shorter the price the more theoretical chance that horse has of winning.

For example a superstar of the future, starting out on their career, may be seen at odds of say 1/5 – here you’d have to invest £5 to win £1 (although you would get back your initial stake too, so £6 in total). It takes a brave soul to invest much at these odds, however there are plenty of shrewdies out there prepared to empty carrier bags full of cash on such ‘certainties’!

Types of Bet

There are four main ways to bet at a point-to-point .

i)                    A WIN bet is quite simply putting an amount on your horse to win the race. Typically if you wanted to place a fiver on your horse you would say to your bookie ‘Five Pounds to win on … the horse number’

ii)                   An ‘Each-Way’ bet is essentially two bets

One for your horse to WIN

One for your horse to PLACE

If your horse wins – you win on both sides of the bet, if it is placed, you will lose the “win” part of the bet, but win on the “place” part of the bet.

The each-way terms will always be clearly displayed on the bookies board – showing how many places you will be paid out on and what fraction of the Win odds you will receive for a Place.

The bookies must offer you at least the following each-way terms as standard:

5 to 7 runners 2 places 1/4 odds
8 + runners 3 places 1/5 odds

Some of the more generous of us may offer better terms than this, however knowing how tight most of us are this is unlikely!

In order not to receive a grunt from your bookie, it is good to remember that an each-way bet is two bets (Win and Place) and therefore £5 each-way would cost £10. Tell them the following ‘Five Pounds each-way on number …’ and hand over your hard earned tenner!

iii)                A Forecast Bet

Often in races with smaller fields or races with a very hot favourite, bookies will offer Forecast betting. Here you must select a horse to win the race AND a horse that will finish 2nd. As this is obviously trickier than just picking an outright winner, you should expect considerably inflated odds from your generous bookmaker.

iv)                Betting Without the Favourite

On some occasions, usually when a race contains a very hot favourite, a bookie will offer ‘Betting Without’.

Using this method, if your horse finishes 1st you still win. But if it finishes 2nd, beaten by the favourite you also still win. It may be at the expense of a point or two in the odds you have taken, but ‘when the favourite goes clear, you’re still at the races here’!

Collecting your big winnings

Now that you have been proved correct and your horse has won the race (or come 2nd or 3rd if you’re on each-way) you can go and collect! It may take a minute or two for the official judges result to come through, but following that announcement we will be overjoyed to pay you. Just go up to the bookie you had the bet with, present your ticket and you will be paid your winnings, happy days!

Have a great day out

I hope this guide will help you further enjoy your days point to pointing. If you have any questions or need some help I will be standing at selected meetings throughout the season so look out for me. Don’t ask for any tips though – my notoriously bad record last gave a winner back in the 2007 season – which probably explains why I’m accepting bets not making them!

Have a great day out and good luck!

Dave Spice – On-course Bookie