Home » horse racing betting strategies
Peter Addison

This page will outline a handful of horse racing betting strategies designed to increase your chances of successful horse racing betting over the long term.

Why Use Horse Racing Betting Strategies?

There are two ways of approaching horse racing betting – betting blind and betting with a strategy. Betting blind involves simply picking a horse in a race and hoping for the best. Horse racing betting systems analyse data to the degree as required to increase the chances of a successful bet. If you are looking for the best way to bet on horse racing, then using data to select your bets will, over the long term, be better than picking horses randomly.

Horse racing strategies

A horse racing betting strategy involves testing systems over a significant period of time, and then adopting them as a horse racing strategy if they prove to be successful. The most successful punters are those who have ascertained that the best way to bet on horse racing is with a defined strategy that makes consistent profits. Those who rely upon luck may have the odd big win on occasion, but over the long term, they are going to lose money. See How to Bet on Horses for a complete introduction to the topic.

Eight of the Best Horse Racing Betting Strategies in Detail

Looking for horse racing betting systems? Then we are here to help. Take a look below and select the horse racing betting strategy that appeals the most to you. Remember, test it out on paper for a few weeks before you adopt it if you are looking to win horse racing bets.

Back Each Way and Extra Places Strategy

No matter how you choose your horses, they are much more likely to place than to win. Only one horse can win, but three, four or even five horses can place depending on the type of race and the depth of the field. It is therefore likely to be more profitable in the long term if you back horses each way than simply backing them to win. Unless you’re terrible at picking winners you’ll get more winning bets, with the added chance of both sides of your each way bet winning. See What is an Each Way Bet? for more details.

To increase your chances of winning bets even further look for betting sites offering extra places at specific meetings or races. Some betting sites offer extra places every day. Again, the more places available for a race, the more likely at least the place side of your each way bet is to win.

Lay the Favourite Strategy

The favourite does not win a horse race every time. Indeed, some sources claim that the favourite wins only 30 to 35 per cent of the time (the favourite has won the Grand National only eight times over the last half a century). This is particularly true with large fields and is particularly untrue when the favourite is odds on.

One popular horse racing betting system is to lay (or bet against – see Horse Racing Terms) the favourite winning. You will only be able to do this at betting exchanges, though. Avoid fields of eight horses or less or when the favourite is odds-on, and concentrate on races with obstacles as opposed to flat races.

Back Value Favourites Strategy

This is practically the opposite of the horse racing betting system outlined above. Here you are looking for favourites but with decent prices. As the favourite wins 30 to 35 per cent of the time so will you, but if the odds of the favourites are significantly in your favour, then you will return a profit even if you lose more often than you win. By the odds being in your favour we mean odds upwards of 2/1, and the more generous the better. Backing a stream of odds-on favourites will mean just a single loss is likely to wipe out the profits from your winners.

Let’s say you back ten favourites at 4/1 each, risking £10 on each. If only three win, you would get back £120 in winnings (plus £30 returned stakes), losing £70 on the seven bets that didn’t win. This counts as a decent £50 profit. Naturally, the more favourites that win, the more money you will make.

80/20 Betting Strategy

This betting system is based on how you split your stake and is not particularly concerned with how you select winning horses. With the 80/20 system, you place 80 per cent of your stake on the place and 20 per cent on the win. Again, it is advisable to back the favourites using this strategy as favourites place around 60 to 65 per cent of the time, which is, of course, more often than not.

Let’s say you bet £10 on a 4/1 priced horse in a race with 16 runners (so a place is ¼ the odds). You would put £8 on the horse to place, and £2 to win. If the horse places, you would get back £8 for the place and your £8 stake back for a £6 profit. If the horse wins you would get back an additional £8 plus your £2 stake back for a £16 profit.

Look at Jockeys and Trainers

There’s more to a horse than a horse. The horse is being ridden and has been trained. The best jockeys know when to attack in a race, when to hold back, how to avoid bunching or being pushed into the rail and, in steeplechases, when to time jumps. The best trainers, too, know how to get their horses ready for race, which races to enter, and how to train the horse between races. Taking into consideration who is riding a horse and who the horse has been trained by are two crucial factors when you are attempting to pick winners.

Sectionals Strategy

If you really want to get deep into selecting winners then sectional times are key. A horse’s overall performance in a race can be split into sections, such as per furlong or per mile fraction. By looking at such times, you can identify strong starters, fast finishers or horses that tire. For example, if a horse consistently tires over a mile but still places, then they may be a good bet for a shorter race (say six furlongs) but ought to be ignored for longer ones.

Dutching Strategy

Dutching can be used on any event with multiple competitors, and so works incredibly well with horse racing. Dutching is a method of betting in which you back a number of selections with the aim of winning a set amount no matter the result of the event. Dutching does involve a lot of calculations (don’t forget we offer a range of bet calculators), so it’s not for punters who dislike crunching numbers!

Let’s say you wish to win £100 on a race. The top three prices are 4.5, 5.5 and 8.5, meaning stakes of £22.22, £18.18 and £11.76 for a total of £52.16. This means you will enjoy a profit of £47.84 if any of the three horses win.

Use Free Bets

You cannot lose with free bets. True, while you do not get your free stake back if your free bet triggers a winning bet, you do get to keep any winnings you make, plus you will not be using any of your precious money of your own.

Most sports betting sites in the UK will offer free bets for new members, but what happens after that? Well, a decent number of UK sports betting sites also offer promotions that may be called ‘free bet clubs’ or something similar. This means that if you place a sufficient number of bets during the week at the site, you will qualify for a free bet.

You are unlikely to get rich just using free bets to place your horse racing bets, but as they are available, you may as well use them as you will not be using any of your own cash. It is best that you use free bets in tandem with one of the horse racing betting strategies outlined above.

Advantages of Horse Racing Betting Strategies

Is there any point using a betting strategy when you are learning how to win at horse racing? Is it worth the work involved? Would it not be easier to go on gut feeling or picking (horse) names out of a hat? Well, we think it is much better to use horse batting strategies, and here are three reasons why.

  1. Statistically, horse racing strategies work better than guesswork

    If you are picking your selections purely on gut feeling or luck, then you are ignoring several important factors. Horses can be judged by many factors such as their previous performance, the jockey, their price, the going, their draw … all of this you will be ignoring if you are just picking your selections almost purely at random.
  2. You will get better, the more you stick to your system

    Practice makes perfect is the saying. It may seem a grind at first to look through a race card, dismiss specific races, look for value bets and calculate your stakes, but the more you do it, the better you will become at it. You will also become faster, meaning you won’t be spending as long each day to find your selections. Follow your strategy long enough and you’ll soon be breezing through your daily perusal of the form book.
  3. You are much less likely to gamble irresponsibly

    If you consistently insist on picking selections after just seconds of consideration, then you are not going to win consistently. This can lead to long losing streaks and feelings of desperation. If you lose a lot of money betting, then you run the risk of chasing your losses and falling into other bad gambling habits. If you follow a strategy that has been successful in the past but then you suffer a string of losses you can be confident that eventually it will become successful again without the need to increase stakes. All systems do suffer occasional bad runs, but a winning system does not become a losing system overnight for no reason.

First Past the Post

Using a horse racing betting strategy is the best way to bet on horses. It is certainly better than selecting horses randomly or just by gut feeling. If you are looking at how to win betting on horses, then horse racing betting strategies are the way forward.


What is the most profitable way to bet on horse racing?

What is the smartest bet in horse racing?

What is the 80 20 horse betting strategy?

How do I get better at horse racing betting?

What is the 2nd favourite horse racing system?

Peter Addison
Peter Addison

Peter is one of the most well-known and well-respected names working in the field of online sports betting today. Having a Bachelor of Arts degree, Peter has worked for many high-profile publications in the industry, both online and in the real world. He joined the SafestBettingSites team in 2021 and has provided millions of words ever since. When not writing, Peter enjoys performing and writing music, gaming, reading and he is a massive movie buff, with a particular love of Japanese cinema and anime.