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Dan Fitch
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A place bet is one where you place a wager on a selection finishing within the place positions of a horse race. We’re going to explain everything that you need to know about place betting, so you can confidently place these type of bets yourself.

How Place Betting Terms Work

place betting on horse racing

When you put on a place bet, you are backing your horse to finishing within the first few positions of a race. Place terms in horse races are impacted by how many runners there are in the event.

When looking at what is place betting in horse racing, you need to understand that the fewer runners there are, the smaller the number of places that the bookmaker will pay out on. Races with more runners, will offer more places in their betting markets.

Here is the official breakdown of the place terms as outlined by Tattersalls Rules on Betting, who set industry standards:

  • Fewer than 5 runners – all to win
  • 5-7 runners – 1/4 odds a place 1-2
  • 8-11 runners – 1/5 odds a place 1-2-3
  • Handicaps with 12-15 runners – 1/4 odds a place 1-2-3
  • Handicaps with 16 or more runners – 1/4 odds a place 1-2-3-4

Example of Place Betting in Horse Racing

Let’s give you an example to show you how a place bet works. Imagine you back a horse in a race with six runners for £10. It’s normal price is 8/1 (9.0).

If it finishes in the first two places, it will be a winning bet. You will get paid at 1/4 of the odds. At a price of 8/1, a 1/4 of the odds makes it 2/1.

Your £10 bet would pay out at 2/1, giving you a £20 win and your £10 stake returned.

Place Bet vs. Each Way Bet

You may have heard of people betting each way. An each way wager is a type of bet that covers a selection both winning and placing. Each-way terms and place terms are synonymous.

When you go each way, you are essentially placing two bets. One part of the bet goes on the selection to win. The other part is backing the selection to place. The unit stake is doubled, so if you place a £10 bet each way, it will actually cost you £20.

It’s a popular horse racing bet as essentially it allows you to bet on a runner to win, while also having some insurance. The odds in horse races are generally big enough to ensure that the place terms will at the very least see you get your money back from each-way betting, should your horse place.

Place Bets with Fixed Odds Bookmakers vs. Pool Betting

Tradition fixed odds bookmakers are not the only option when it comes to making place bets. The Tote offers a pool bet service. This includes being able to put Tote place bets on a pari-mutuel pool.

In the event of a successful place bet, you will be paid out on a dividend basis. This can differ from what is being offered with traditional horse racing odds and you can end up with bigger winnings through Tote prices.

Place Betting Offers – Extra Place Races

As we stated earlier, the place terms for horse race betting, are laid out in the Tattersalls Rules. Yet some bookies do offer extra place races, where they expand the amount of places that they will pay out on.

With these sort of offers, bookmakers will generally add an extra place. So a race that would generally have horse betting terms of first three, will be expanded so that the top four all place.

This obviously increases the chances of being successful when you have a place bet on horse racing. Bookies that carry this offer will apply it to selected races every day, while it is also commonly applied to big events such as the Grand National.

Pros & Cons of a Place Bet

We think that there are a lot of positives to place bets, but as with most things, there are also some drawbacks. Here are the pros and cons as we see them.

Pros

  • Easier to pick a horse to place than a winner
  • Option of each way horse race betting gives you best of both worlds
  • Odds for a place bet can still be big in races with lots of runners
  • Many online horse betting bookies offer extra places on selected races

Cons

  • A horse with odds that are small will not be worth backing to place
  • Possible regret if your selected horse finishes first

Grand National Place Betting

The Grand National is the biggest race in the horse racing calendar. With so many runners, it lends itself to place bets.

Even with a reduced maximum field size, the Grand National will still have 34 runners. Picking out a winner is essentially a lottery, especially considering how many horses fall. Backing a horse to place is a more realistic aim, with many bookies offering extra place races deals on the National, to make things easier.

A Grand National place bet makes a lot of sense and if you want to be in with a chance of backing the winner, you can simply go each way. With so many runners, the basic horse odds are strong at the Grand National, so you should be able to find some value.

List of Other Horse Racing Events Where Place Bets Make Sense

These are some other horse races and events where it makes sense to go for a place bet. Many are big field handicap races where using the each-way betting system is advised:

  • Betfair Hurdle at Newbury
  • Cheltenham Festival, especially the Coral Cup, Grand Annual Chase and County Hurdle
  • Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse
  • Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster
  • Scottish Grand National at Ayr
  • be365 Gold Cup at Sandown
  • Royal Ascot, especially the Royal Hunt Cup and Wokingham Stakes
  • Northumberland Plate at Newcastle
  • Ebor Handicap at York
  • Ayr Gold Cup at Ayr
  • Cambridgeshire Handicap at Newmarket
  • Cesarewitch Handicap at Newmarket
  • Coral Gold Cup at Newbury
  • Welsh Grand National at Chepstow

Effective Horse Racing Place Betting Strategy

Having a place betting system or strategy to hand can make a big difference to your profitability. Here are some tips for you to follow.

Do Your Research

A basic rule for sports bet gambling that applies to place betting is to do your research. That is pretty easy when it comes to bets in horse racing, as form guides are readily available, giving you access to information about the horses, jockeys and trainers. Do your homework and you will see horses that are likely to place, which may be available at a bigger price than they really should do. Don’t forget to consider the conditions, which can have a big impact. As part of your research, use a place betting calculator to work out what you might win when your bet is settled.

Back Favourites to Place

On average, around two thirds of favourites will lose, but with a place bet you can still be a winner. Backing the favourite to place can make sense in a competitive race. For one, it is difficult to pick out a single horse to win such a race, while it is obviously easier to select one that could finish in the top two or three. Secondly, a natural by-product of competitive races are competitive odds. Horse racing bets on favourites to place, are not always viable when the odds are too slim.

Go For Something Extra

As we mentioned earlier, lots of bookies add an extra place to selected races. With these types of wagers, you are getting a bigger chance of winning, yet the odds remain the same. There are races with extra places available every day, so it’s always worth checking if you can get a bit of extra value for your place and each way wagers, with these types of horse bets. Again, there are also extra places commonly available on big races like the Grand National, so choose a bookmaker that has such an offer.

Best Bookie for a Place Bet on Horse Racing

By now you may be ready to put on an each way or single wager on a horse to place. We would recommend Betfred if you are planning to go down the fixed odds road, as they cover the horses in great detail and offer extra places at selected races, every day. Should you want to experiment with your types of horse racing bets and go for pari-mutuel pool place wagers, then we would direct you towards the Tote.

Conclusion

Place betting is one of the most common horse betting types and with good reason, as it often makes more sense than backing a horse to win. Provided it’s the right type of race with plenty of runners, such bet types make sense.

FAQs

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Dan Fitch

A writer and editor for some of the top names in the gambling industry for nearly 20 years, Dan also works as a freelance sports journalist for publications and websites such as ESPN, FourFourTwo and LiveScore.