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Betting In Running On Horse Racing
UK Horse Racing

Betting In Running On Horse Racing

The dawn of the betting exchanges – and Betfair in particul – has undoubtedly acted to improve the lot of the punter overall. Be it from the price pressure exerted helping to reduce the overall margins of the bookmakers, or the hitherto unknown concept of the bettor being able to lay rather than back a horse, they have proved a great boon to the betting industry overall.

One of the areas in which the exchanges have had the most profound effect is in the explosion of betting in running on horse racing. In running betting is of course available across a whole range of sports these days, with the traditional bookmakers now doing a roaring trade on football in particular.

Providing fluctuating odds for a football match lasting 90 minutes is one thing, but to do so on the rapid fire action of a horse race – a five furlong contest can be all done and dusted in under a minute – is quite another matter; a matter for which the traditional bookies are ill-equipped to cope. That’s where the exchanges come in.

The very nature of a betting exchange – with bettors able to take, request, back and lay prices in an instant – is ideal for those looking to bet in running on the sport of kings. Here we take a closer look at how it all works, the types of bet available, tools of the trade and provide a few handy tips and strategies.

Tools Of The Trade

First things first. When considering venturing into the world of in running betting, we need to ensure we have the required tools of the trade at our disposal:

A Betting Exchange Account

Stating the obvious perhaps, but you aren’t going to get too far without this. The important thing to bear in mind here as that you want to be using an exchange with regular and reliable liquidity in their markets. There’s no use in having a well thought out betting in running strategy if you are then unable to get your bets on due to a lack of other players in the market. As the current giant amongst betting exchanges, Betfair are the clear choice here.

Ability To Watch The Race

Whilst there are in running traders who manage to turn a profit without access to TV pictures – merely relying on fluctuations in the prices of the runners in order to execute their strategies – for most, it is essential to be able to see how a race is unfolding.

A word of warning here though; the word “live” often really refers to “almost live”. All broadcasters have a delay to some degree or other. SIS and TurfTV who beam their pictures to the betting shops are generally the quickest, at around 1-2 seconds slow, with AtTheRaces and Racing UK a little slower again. Other than doing your betting trackside there’s not much you can do about this, but the majority of users will be in the same position.

The main thing to be aware of is that you ought to be a little suspicious of price movements which don’t marry up to the action you can see on the screen. Should a smooth travelling odds on shot suddenly begin to drift alarmingly on the exchange, be sure that it will imminently begin treading water or fall on the screen. This delay really shouldn’t impact too much on general in running strategies though.


With many users often attempting to get the same bet on within seconds, speed is of the essence when betting in running – “the early bird catches the worm” and “fastest finger first” certainly being maxims which apply to this form of betting. As such, any tool which acts to make the process more instantaneous can only be of benefit.

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If you are looking to bet/trade in-running on a semi regular basis, then you really ought to consider the use of software specifically designed for just this purpose. The likes of Bet Angel, Geeks Toy and Gruss effectively act to turn the three steps of selecting a horse, entering your stake and submitting the bet, into a one click affair. Set your parameters in advance of the race and your bet will be on with one click of the mouse – giving you the very best chance of executing your strategy. Even easier than that, you can also set your software to act in an automated fashion to deliver a pre-determined strategy.

Many of the best tools offer a free trial subscription or demo mode so you needn’t feel overawed about diving into the technology. We recommend trying your software of choice in demo mode until you feel comfortable with how it all works, before giving it a go for real to small stakes and then progressing accordingly.

The Form Book

Again there are those who treat this purely as a numbers game and adopt an approach more akin to that utilised in the financial markets. For us though in horse racing – and indeed all forms of betting – it never hurts to know as much as possible about exactly what it is you are betting on. Examining a horse’s usual running style and how they have performed under similar conditions in the past remains the best guide as to how they will fare in future races. Arming yourself with this information in advance will have you well prepared to react accordingly as a race unfolds.

A Stopwatch/timer

Hugely popular and advanced in US racing, sectional times are now becoming far more prevalent here in the UK. This method of timing effectively breaks the race down into stages and allows us to determine the pace of the race. Unlike in the US though, these sectional times are rarely displayed on screen during the race. That doesn’t stop you from timing it yourself though.

Have the leaders gone off much too quick, and thus be more likely to fade in the closing stages? Or is the race being run at a crawl and so making it harder for the holdup performers to make up ground? We can often get a general idea of this visually, but being able to put exact numbers on just how quickly or slowly the runners are going can be a big advantage. This can be a particularly useful tool for those repeatedly betting on different races run over the same courses and distances for example.

In Running Strategies

Ok so we now have what we need to plunge into the exciting and potentially profitable world of in running betting, so how exactly to go about it? As touched upon, the number of successful strategies can vary widely, and it will likely take a little trial and error to find the approach which suits best. The below methods should nevertheless at least give you a little something to think about regarding the approaches you may adopt. We have divided these into two sections. Those of pure in running bets and those we will refer to as “Trade in and out” bets.

Pure In Running Bets

These types of bets aim to make a profit in the standard way. I.e. Through backing winners and laying losers.

Back In Running

One of the simplest forms of betting in running is simply waiting until the race is underway prior to placing your win bet. Those who utilise this approach generally have one or more horses in mind whom they would like to back before the starter lowers his flag, but wish to see the early shape of the race before committing.

Perhaps they are unsure whether the selection will be able to secure an advantageous early position from their draw; maybe a horse needs a strong pace in order to be seen to best effect; or perhaps a runner is only able to win when doing it from the front. Watching and waiting can often pay off.

Lay In Running

The polar opposite of the above. Here we are looking for either a situation where the pattern of the race is going against a particular runner; a frontrunner unable to get to the lead, or a stamina laden plodder in a slowly run race for example, and then laying said horse accordingly. Other types of runner who fit nicely into this approach are those who invariably travel well in their races, only to then find less than appears likely when push comes to shove. Such “bridle horses” will invariably trade shorter than they perhaps should due to the visual impression they create, and therefore represent a good value lay. This is but one area where prior knowledge and research of the runners in a field can reap rewards.

Trade In And Out

Rather than relying on a specific runner or runners winning or losing a race, the goal of this type of betting is to secure a profit whatever the outcome of the event.

First let’s take a look at a very basic example of how this “Trade in and out” approach works.

Consider that either prior to the race or in the early stages we back a runner for £10 at 5/1 (6.0) with the view that that price will shorten as the race progresses. Should our view prove correct and the odds on the runner contract to 2/1 (3.0) for example, we would then be in a position to lay the runner for £20 and secure a profit of £10 whatever the outcome:

    Should the horse win:

We would make £50 profit on the back side of the bet. Backing £10 at 5/1 = £50 profit.
However we would lose £40 on the lay side. Laying £20 at 2/1 = £40 loss
Overall profit = £50 – £40 = £10

    Should the horse lose:

We would lose our £10 stake on the back side of the bet.
However we would now make £20 on the lay side of the bet.
Overall profit = -£10 + £20 = £10

This in simplistic terms is how the whole process of trading in and out in in running works.

Back To Lay

Following the process outlined above this involves backing a horse whom we believe will shorten during a course of the race, in order to then lay it back at a shorter price and so secure a profit.

Lay To Back

So long as we back a horse at a bigger price than which we lay it, it makes no difference in the order in which we do it. As the name suggests “Lay To Back” involves first laying a horse whom we believe will drift as the race unfolds, and the backing said runner at a bigger price in order to lock in a profit.

Lay The Field

One of the most commonly used and simplest forms of betting in running strategies is simply to lay all of the runners in the field. One of the beauties of the betting exchanges is that we are able to place an order to lay all members of the starting field at a specified price. So for example we could request to lay all of the runners in a field to the same stake at below even money (2.0). Should two or more runners trade at this price at any time during the contest we will be guaranteed a profit. This approach is most useful in closely contested races, where it seems likely that a number of contenders will be in contention at one stage or another.

Types Of Horses To Focus On

Having taken a look at some of the most popular bet types and strategies, let’s now examine a couple of run styles which can lend themselves to profitable in running opportunities in addition to the “bridle horses” touched upon above.

Front Runners

One of my personal favourites, as those at the head of affairs are always liable to see odds fluctuations during the course of the race, and so often provide excellent trade in and out opportunities.

In general look to back these runners should they be afforded an uncontested lead. Look to lay should they not be allowed to settle in front, or if the sectional times suggest they have gone off to quick.

“Hard Work” Horses

When looking through a horses previous performances, keep an eye out for runners who have managed to win despite coming off the bridle a long way from home. This can often simply be a horses style of running and therefore not necessarily be detrimental to its chances. The market often doesn’t react as such though, with runners regularly beginning to drift almost as soon as their jockey gets to work. This can sometimes be a death knell for a horses chances…but not always.

Hold Up Horses

By the very nature of their running style, these performers will often be nearer the back than the front during the early stages of the race. This can lead to an overreaction from the market and create many a value backing opportunity. Pay particular attention to these runners should the pace up front look to be on the strong side, as the race may very well fall apart on the front end allowing the hold-up runners to come through late.

Summary: Betting In Running, Another String To Your Bow

In these modern times there are more tools than ever before available to the horse racing punter, with the breadth and variety of betting options on offer making this something of a golden age.

Of these tools, betting in running is perhaps the one which offers the biggest upside for those who learn the process and do their homework to plan and execute those profit making strategies. It is certainly at least worth looking into adding this particular string to you betting bow.

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