The Foolproof Guide on How to Bet on the Horses

Fancy a bet on the horses but end up confused by the endless amount of betting terms? Punting can be fun and profitable when you get the hang of it but for those with little betting experience, it can also be daunting.

Just when you figure out how to find the market you’re after, you’re then met with terms like ‘Trifecta’, ‘Tote Pool’ and ‘Scratchings’, leaving you scratching your own head in total confusion.  

Basic Horse Racing Terminology

First things first, it’s helpful to know the meaning of some keywords you’ll come across when you put your first bet on.

Stake: The amount of money placed on the bet.

Odds/Price: The odds reflect the bookmaker’s opinion of how likely it is that particular horse will win. The higher the odds, the less likely they think the horse is going to win. 

For example, if the odds are $5.50 and you bet $10 you will receive $55.00 if your bet wins. 

Payout: The amount of money the bookmaker will pay you if the bet is correct. 

Basic Terms for betting on the horses

Types of Ways to Bet on the Horses

Next, you have to decide what kind of bet you want to put on because there’s several to choose from. The following are the most popular bet types and all available on PlayUp.  

Win vs Place 

Win and Place bets are the simplest and most common horse racing bet type.  

A Win bet is where you pick a horse to finish first in the race. If the horse crosses the winning line first then you win the bet. 

A Place bet is where you select a horse to finish either first, second or third in a race.

Exotic Markets 

This is where it starts to get a little complicated. Exotic bets are riskier because the requirements of the bet are more specific, but they usually offer greater returns. 

Exotic markets to bet on the horses


A Quinella is where you pick two horses in the same race to finish first and second, in any order. 


An Exacta is similar to a Quinella in the sense that you pick two horses in the same race to finish first and second, except they must pass the finish line in the correct order to win the bet. 


A Trifecta is where you pick three horses in the same race to finish first second and third in the exact order. 

First Four

A First Four is where you pick four horses in the same race to place first, second, third and fourth in the exact order.


A Quadrella, or a Quaddie, is where you bet on the horses to come first in four different races. 

Tote vs Fixed Price

For Win and Place bets you will have to choose whether you want Tote or Fixed Price. 

Fixed price odds are predetermined and won’t change before, during or after you have placed your bet, except in the case of scratchings.

Tote betting is where all bets placed on the race are placed into a pool. The winnings are calculated by dividing the pool and divided by the amount wagered on that runner.


A scratching in a horse race simply means the horse, which was due to run, will no longer participate in the race. This could be for many reasons like concerns for the horse’s health or if the trainer isn’t happy with how the horse has trained prior to the race.  


Now you’ve mastered how to bet on the horses why not check out our NBA betting guide here.  


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