Horse racing is one of the most popular forms of betting in the world. There’s just something about the huge crowds, the excitement of the races themselves and the thrill of watching horses as they fly down the stretch that can’t be matched.
If you want to learn more about betting on horse races in Australia, we’ve collected answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about this sport below.
There are several fully regulated and licensed bookmakers who operating online betting sites in Australia, making it safe and easy to bet on horse races online here. Sites like Sportingbet Australia offer a full range of bets on races throughout Australia and New Zealand, meaning there’s virtually always a race to bet on any time you feel the need to get some action.
Wins, place, and show bets are the backbone of horse racing. First, it’s important to understand what those three terms mean. Obviously, a horse that wins a race is the one that finishes first. The horse that finishes second is the one who “places,” while the horse in third is the one who “shows.” As a group, the houses in the top three are considered to be the ones that were “in the money.”
The three positions correspond to the three bets of the same name, though perhaps not exactly in the way you might expect. A win bet pays out only if a horse finishes in first place. A place bet pays out if the horse is anywhere in the top two, while a show bet pays out as long as the horse finishes in third place or better. Win bets pay more than place bets, which in turn pay more than show bets.
Exotic bets cover bets on more than one horse. These bets are harder to win, but generally pay out at higher odds than the standard win, place and show bets. There are several different types of exotic bets, some of which cover multiple horses in a single race while others cover horses from different races.
An exacta bet is a bet on the two horses that will finish in first and second in a given race. In order to win the exacta bet, you must not only choose the correct two horses, but pick the correct order in which they will finish.
A trifecta is a bet on the three horses that will finish in the money in a given race. Like in an exacta, you must not only choose the three correct horses, but you must choose them in the correct order in order to win the bet.
A quinella bet is similar to an exacta bet in that you must pick the two horses that will finish first and second in a race. However, this bet does not require you to pick the order they will finish in. While this makes it easier to win the bet, it also means that it will pay out at lower odds than the same bet made as an exacta.
A daily double bet is one made on two separate races, often the first two that are held on the racing day. The idea is to pick the winners of both races ahead of time, with a significant payout if you can successfully do so.
Another common bet of this type is known as a Pick Six. This is the same concept, only more difficult, as bettors must successfully pick the winners of six consecutive races. It is difficult to win these bets, but the payouts can be huge – sometimes tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on a one dollar bet.
Boxed bets can be made with any bet on multiple horses (usually an exacta or a trifecta). This bet will cover all possible combinations on the horses involved in that bet. In an exacta bet, that means that you’ll be paying for two separate bets on your two horses: 1-2 and 2-1, thus covering each order. A boxed trifecta will actually cover six different bets in order to cover every possibility.
See our Horse Racing Terms and Definitions page for more about the different jargon used at the horse track.
At most Australian bookmakers, horse racing odds are displayed in decimal format. That means that the number you see will express how much money you’ll have if you win the bet, including your original wager. For instance, if you bet $1 at 3.00 odds, winning will mean you now have $3 – your original dollar, and the $2 you’ve won.
There are other ways that horse racing odds are displayed around the world, but most online betting sites will allow you to use decimal odds or any other major method you prefer. One unusual practice that should be explained is the method used to display payouts in the United States. This method is similar to decimal odds, but that assumes a $2 bet at all times. After a race, you may see that a winning horse paid $6.00. That figure is based on a $2 bet; essentially, this is the same as 3.00 in decimal odds.
If a horse was scheduled to run in a race, but is removed from the race just before post time, the horse is said to have been scratched. All bets that only include a scratched horse – win, place and show bets – are voided, meaning bettors will receive their money back. If you’ve made a more exotic bet, what happens will depend on the nature of your bet. For instance, if you’ve boxed three horses for an exacta, you’ll have the portions of that bet that involved the scratched horse returned to you, but the rest of your bet will remain in place.
For Daily Doubles and similar bets, the method for dealing with scratches will depend on the track or the bookmaker taking the bet. In some cases, a single scratch on your card will void your bet, and you’ll be refunded your money. In others, any scratched horse will automatically be replaced by the favourite in that race, giving you the best chance possible of keeping your ticket alive – but forcing you to take that horse with no choice on your part.
Sometimes, it’s possible that even cameras will not be able to determine which of two horses finished ahead of the other. This is known as a dead heat, and creates a tie for those two positions. In these cases, both horses are considered to have finished in both positions (you can also think about it as the two horses sharing those two positions).
This means that if two horses finish in a dead head for first and second, all win and place bets win for both horses involved, albeit at reduced odds. In addition, exacta bets involving those two horses will also win in either order, though again at reduced odds.