Jargon-busting guide to betting


When you place a bet you can put your money on a horse to win the race outright or to get a place. If you bet on the horse winning the race you won't receive anything if it passes the post second, third or fourth.

But if it does come in first you'll win more than you would if it came first on an each way bet. For example, a £5 win bet will give you more return than a £2.50 each way bet.

Each way

Betting each way on a horse means you will pocket some cash as long as your horse is placed. If there are lots of horses running, for example in the Grand National, bookmakers may pay out on first, second, third, fourth and fifth places.

If your horse finishes in any of these places you'll be paid usually a quarter or a fifth of the odds. When there are fewer horses running bookmakers will pay out on fewer places.

Singles and Doubles

A single bet is a bet placed on one horse for one race, if it wins you'll get a pay out. A double bet involves betting on two different horses in two different races and both have to win or be placed (depending on the type of bet) for you to receive any cash.


The odds or price of a horse gives an indication of its form and how likely it is to win. Horses with shorter odds (say 3-1) are considered more likely to win or be placed than horses with longer odds (for example 50-1). The odds also determine how much you will be paid out.

For example, if you put a £5 win on a horse ranked at 8-1, you will win 8 x £5 plus your original £5 stake. So you'd collect £45.

The odds on a horse can change. If the horse becomes a favourite for instance, the odds could shorten dramatically, or if gamblers lose faith the odds could lengthen. So when you place a bet you can choose to take the odds as they are at the time or leave them and receive whatever they are when the race is run, this is known as the starting price.

If you are confident the odds will shorten make sure you tell the bookmaker you want to take the odds as they stand, otherwise if you win you're winnings will be based on the odds at the time of the race.


The favourite in a race is the horse most likely to win. It will have the shortest odds. Some favourites will be 'odds-on', i.e. priced at something like 1-2. This means you'll get £1 back for every £2 you put on.


The outsider is the horse deemed least likely to win and will have the longest odds.

Your Comments

hi Christine,

Thank you for this article. This info has helped me to understand what all these odds and ends actually mean! I may possibly put a bet on with the confidence gained, thanks to you.