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what is ante post betting

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It’s a phrase you may have heard before, but just what is ante post betting on horse racing? This is the latest in a series of guides that explain gambling terms and jargon, so you can understand and learn all about it. The ante post bet meaning will soon become clear to you as our experts reveal all.

What is Ante Post Betting?

what is ante post betting

Let’s get cracking. What is an ante post bet then? It’s a wager you can place on horse racing betting sites in advance of the event in question and prior to final declarations. The announced runners in the field for a race is currently revealed around 48 hours beforehand in the UK.

If you take a punt before this point, then it’s a bet struck on ante post terms. It really is as simple as that. The ante post betting meaning should now make sense. There are rules in place governing these wagers, however, and you need to know about them. More on those in a moment.

You may also see ante post written hyphenated as ante-post, or markets listed under Future Races on leading UK bookies operating online today. For those interested in its origins, ante has a double meaning. It comes from the Latin for before or ahead of time. Ante is also gambling jargon for the stake, i.e. the money you wager on a bet.

Post refers to the Betting Post, which was erected on-course at racetracks back in the Victorian era. Once this went up, it was a sign that fixed odds wagers could be placed with bookmakers in the betting ring. It’s an homage to the history of the sport.

Key Ante Post Betting Rules

We mentioned there are some important rules attached to this type of bet, so now is the perfect time to make you aware of them. The main one is that you aren’t guaranteed a run for your money. In other words, non-runner no bet will not apply to your wager unless it says otherwise. This is one of the risks attached to horse racing ante post betting you must consider when taking an early punt.

Next, there is matter of each way betting and how it works with ante post markets. You may have seen Extra Place races advertised by the bookies on their sites, but you probably won’t get these enhanced terms offered if you bet early. This is because, although there may be lots of horses entered, bookmakers don’t know how many will turn up.

Rule 3 Applies but Rule 4 Doesn’t

There are also industry standard practices all ante post betting sites must follow. The minimum place terms a bookie can offer you are enshrined in the Tattersalls Committee Rules on Betting under Rule 3. This states that if there are fewer than five runners in a race, it’s win only from a betting perspective. It follows that the more participants involved, the more places pay out.

Depending on whether or not the ante post betting market relates to a conditions race or a handicap, that also governs the fractions and place terms offered. You’ll get three places if there are eight or more runners. The standard terms available to punters are usually a fifth of outright odds for three places, or a quarter for four.

Rule 4 deductions, meanwhile, cannot apply to ante post bets. This is because they only relate to wagers struck after final declarations in the event of a non-runner. It’s good that you avoid these, but you cannot get Best Odds Guaranteed covering your bet either unless stated otherwise.

Pros & Cons of Ante Post Betting Explained

You have probably already realised that there are some positives and not so good aspects to this. Taking your understanding of what is ante post betting to next level requires you to appreciate the upsides and drawbacks of such a wager.

Balancing potential risk and the rewards for pulling a long-term bet off like this are central to your gambling journey. It’s not just about weighing up whether or not the horse you fancy will be that price on the day. Here are the benefits and disadvantages of an ante post bet:

  • Greater value betting available
  • May get better each way terms
  • More likely to beat the SP odds
  • Rule 4 deductions cannot apply
  • BOG deal doesn’t cover your bet
  • Can miss out on Extra Places
  • No guarantee of run for your money
  • Stake lost if horse doesn’t race

Biggest Ante Post Betting Horse Racing Events

There are a lot of early closing races in both the UK and Ireland, so the British Isles provides plenty of opportunities for an ante post punt. As with any sport, however, some events in the annual calendar are bigger than others. The best horses in their respective disciplines and age groups take part in these major meetings and festivals:

Cheltenham Ante Post Betting

They call Cheltenham Racecourse the home of jumps racing. This is because the biggest of all National Hunt meetings take place there every March. The Cheltenham Festival has developed into the central pillar around which much of the season for jumpers depends.

While each of the 28 races across the four days is technically an early closer, entries for some are announced earlier than others. That means there’s Cheltenham Festival ante post betting available months in advance in some cases. The championship races listed below are the first to have entries published for them:

  • Champion Hurdle
  • Queen Mother Champion Chase
  • Ryanair Chase
  • Stayers’ Hurdle
  • Cheltenham Gold Cup

Each of these is a Grade 1 race, the highest level of competition in the National Hunt code. There are also six novice events holding that status over either hurdles or fences. On top of that, there’s two top class hurdle races restricting the horses who run in them either by age or gender. Completing the set of Grade 1s at Cheltenham is the Champion Bumper, a National Hunt Flat race in which the horses don’t jump obstacles.

Not Just About The Festival

Cheltenham ante post betting isn’t just about the four days in March. There are other meetings during the core National Hunt season that begins in October where horses head to this track for races. The majority of these early closing events are some Premier Handicaps over fences, each at around a distance of two-and-a-half miles, which culminate with the Festival Plate.

  • Paddy Power Gold Cup (November)
  • December Gold Cup
  • New Year’s Day Handicap Chase
  • Cheltenham Countdown Trophy Handicap Chase (January)

There are also valuable hurdle races at Cheltenham throughout the season over different distances you can bet on ante post. It’s not just about steeplechasers with early closing events and important action:

  • Greatwood Hurdle 2m Premier Handicap (November)
  • Relkeel Hurdle 2m 4f Grade 2 race (New Year’s Day)
  • International Hurdle 2m 1f Grade 2 race (January, moved from December)
  • Cleeve Hurdle 3m Grade 2 race (January)

Grand National Ante Post Betting

Known as the world’s most famous steeplechase and watched on TV by billions around the globe, the Grand National remains a fascinating with the wider public outside regular punters. Watching a maximum field of 40 horses tackle unique spruce-covered fences and two circuits of Aintree on the second Saturday in April is just different from the average race.

The Grand National used to be a real lottery. As if picking the winner wasn’t difficult enough from so many horses, successful Aintree ante post betting required lots of luck too. Many punters’ dreams of winning last no longer than the first fences. Modifications to the obstacles have been made in the interests of equine safety, reducing some of the risk.

That hasn’t dampened enthusiasm for betting on the Grand National, though. The issue you have with ante post bet here, however, is getting a good price might not be the primary concern. It’s common for the bookies to offer six, seven or even eight places after final declarations. When you wager in advance, the most you’re going to get is five.

The Classics

Switching from jumps to Flat horse racing, the very best three-year-old thoroughbreds have races just for their generation throughout the season. These are called the Classics. Only entire colts and fillies can run in them. Getting an ante post bet on any of the following five races is easy with markets available for much of the year:

  • 2000 Guineas on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket (May)
  • 1000 Guineas on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket (May, fillies only)
  • The Oaks over 1m 4f on Epsom Downs (June, fillies only)
  • The Derby over 1m 4f on Epsom Downs (June)
  • St Leger over 1m 6f 115y on Town Moor at Doncaster (September)

Among the Classics, Epsom Derby ante post betting is the most popular. This is because the race is the most valuable and prestigious. Winning one of the other Classics comes with plenty of money too, but there’s just something about The Derby. Successful horses can race on, but many end up retiring to stand as stallions at stud or to the paddocks to become broodmares at the end of their three-year-old season.

Royal Ascot Ante Post Betting

The Royal meeting at Ascot is the premier Flat festival of the entire year. Held in mid-June, it attracts more thoroughbreds from overseas than any other meeting in the UK. In recent years, it’s become common to see horses from the USA, Hong Kong, Europe and even Australia taking part. There are eight Group 1 races at Royal Ascot across five days, which you’ll find can get ante post bets on with the bookies:

  • Queen Anne Stakes over the Straight Mile (4yo+)
  • King Charles III Stakes (formerly the King’s Stand Stakes) over 5f (3yo+)
  • St James’s Palace Stakes on the Round Mile (3yo colts only)
  • Prince Of Wales’s Stakes over 1m 2f (4yo+)
  • Ascot Gold Cup over 2m 4f (4yo+)
  • Commonwealth Cup over 6f (3yo colts and fillies)
  • Coronation Stakes on the Round Mile (3yo fillies only)
  • Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee Stakes over 6f (4yo+)

These aren’t the only early closing races either. There are some big Heritage Handicaps at the Royal meeting too. If you’re one of those punters that enjoys solving the complex puzzles that such competitive events and big field races are. The Royal Hunt Cup on the Straight Mile and Wokingham Stakes over 6f are Royal Ascot ante post betting events you can wager on.

Talented young horses also compete here with plenty of Group and Listed races for two-year-olds. These present their own challenges for punters, as you need to try and estimate which juveniles can improve on what little form there is to go on. The Royal meeting provides such variety with races over all distances between five furlongs and over two-and-a-half miles.

Glorious Goodwood Ante Post Betting

Another of the big summer galas on the Flat is the Qatar Goodwood Festival. Better known as Glorious Goodwood and taking place in late July and early August, it provides something that Royal Ascot doesn’t at the highest level – competition between generations. There are eight early closing races from this five-day meeting if you want to get an ante post bet on. Some are handicaps, while others are important events for the pattern:

  • Lennox Stakes (Group 2) over 7f (3yo+)
  • Goodwood Cup (Group 1) over 2m (3yo+)
  • Sussex Stakes (Group 1) over 1m (3yo+)
  • Nassau Stakes (Group 1) over 1m 2f (3yo+ fillies & mares)
  • Golden Mile (Heritage Handicap) over 1m (3yo+)
  • King George Qatar Stakes (Group 2) over 5f (3yo+)
  • Lillie Langtry Stakes (Group 2) over 1m 6f (3yo+ fillies & mares)
  • Stewards’ Cup (Heritage Handicap) over 6f (3yo+)
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Jamie Clark

Ante Post Bets Available on Non-Early Closing Races Too

Away from some of the biggest races, even ordinary events have a minimum of two declaration stages. The first of these is five or six days beforehand. Ante post prices should be available on the best of the upcoming weekend’s action a few days in advance as a result. It doesn’t need to be a major event for you get an early bet on. That’s something that the wider betting public doesn’t know about horse racing entries.

Other Key Races & Meetings Where You Can Place an Ante Post Bet

We’ve only discussed some of the major highlights of the horse racing year in the UK. There are ante post betting opportunities on televised meetings every weekend, but these are some of the other events that attract lots of early wagering from punters:

  • Lincoln Handicap (Heritage Handicap) over 1m at Doncaster (4yo+) in March / April
  • Scottish Grand National (Premier Handicap) over 4m at Ayr (5yo+) in April
  • bet365 Gold Cup (Premier Handicap) over 3m 5f at Sandown (5yo+) in April
  • Lockinge Stakes (Group 1) over 1m at Newbury (4yo+) in May
  • Northumberland Plate (Heritage Handicap)  over 2m at Newcastle (3yo+) in June / July
  • Coral Eclipse (Group 1) over 1m 2f at Sandown (3yo+) in July
  • John Smith’s Cup (Heritage Handicap) over 1m 2f 56y at York (3yo+) in July
  • July Cup (Group 1) over 6f at Newmarket (3yo+) in July
  • King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes (Group 1) over 1m 4f at Ascot (3yo+) in July
  • Ebor Handicap (Heritage Handicap) over 1m 6f at York (4yo+) in August
  • Haydock Sprint Cup (Group 1) over 6f at Haydock (3yo+) in September
  • Ayr Gold Cup (Heritage Handicap) over 6f at Ayr (3yo+) in September
  • Cambridgeshire Handicap (Heritage Handicap) over 1m 1f (3yo+) in September
  • Champion Stakes (Group 1) over 1m 2f at Ascot (3yo+) in October
  • Cesarewitch Handicap (Heritage Handicap) over 2m 2f in Newmarket (3yo+) in November
  • Betfair Chase (Grade 1) over 3m 1f at Haydock (5yo+) in November
  • Coral Gold Cup (Premier Handicap) over 3m 2f at Newbury (5yo+) in November / December
  • Tingle Creek Chase (Grade 1) over 2m at Sandown (5yo+) in December
  • King George VI Chase (Grade 1) over 3m at Kempton (5yo+) on Boxing Day
  • Welsh Grand National (Premier Handicap) over 3m 6f at Chepstow (5yo+) on 27 December

Major International Races You Can Put an Ante Post Bet on

The top bookies in the UK will also let you wager on future events abroad. Whether that’s in France or Ireland, or further afield in the Middle East, across the Atlantic in America or Down Under in Australia, there are some big races with ante post betting available on them:

  • Pegasus World Cup (Grade 1) over 1m 1f at Gulfstream Park (4yo+) in January
  • Irish Champion Hurdle (Grade 1) over 2m at Leopardstown (4yo+) in February
  • Irish Gold Cup (Grade 1) over 3m at Leopardstown (5yo+) in February
  • Dubai World Cup (Group 1) over 1m 2f at Meydan (4yo+) in March
  • Irish Grand National (Grade A) over 3m 5f at Fairyhouse (5yo+) on Easter Monday
  • Kentucky Derby (Grade 1) over 1m 2f at Churchill Downs (3yos only) in May
  • Prix du Jockey Club (Group 1) over 1m 2.5f at Chantilly (3yo colts & fillies) in June
  • Irish Derby (Group 1) over 1m 4f at the Curragh (3yo colts & fillies) in June / July
  • Grand Prix de Paris (Group 1) over 1m 4f at Longchamp (3yos only) on Bastille Day
  • Irish Champion Stakes (Group 1) over 1m 2f at Leopardstown (3yo+) in September
  • Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Group 1) over 1m 4f at Longchamp (3yo+) in October
  • Breeders’ Cup Classic (Grade 1) over 1m 2f at the Breeders’ Cup (3yo+) in November
  • Melbourne Cup (Grade 1) over 2m at Flemington (3yo+) in November

Horse Racing Ante Post Betting Tips & Strategy That Works

In the course of our exploration of the ante post bet, it’s become clear that are tons of horse races and chances for you get such wagers on. The only question now is when. You’ve got what is ante post betting settled in your mind, so now it’s all about how to use such markets effectively. Our experts are on hand to give you some sage advice on these. Follow the below tips and strategies, and you’ll reach better decisions when betting more often:

Back Horses Before Prep Runs & Trials

If a racehorse wins a recognised trial for a big event in the weeks and months ahead, the bookies while only shorten its ante post odds afterwards. You need to be proactive, then, and gamble on it winning the prep race. If you don’t act swiftly, you can miss out on a good price. Getting maximum value is what the ante post market is all about.

Pay Attention if Owners & Trainers Name Targets

Racehorse owners and trainers decide between them what’s best for their horse both on and off the track. This means if they commit or are leaning to running their charge in a certain race, you have little choice but to take them at their word. There could always be a rethink in the future, but the bookies will cut horses in their ante post betting with a named future target for said event.

Take Advantage of Rare Occasions When Markets Compatible with Other Offers

It’s not a case of ante post bets never being covered by non-runner no bet terms, or extra places being available. They’re a rarity, though, so when you see these other betting offers working alongside the market, take the bookies up on them. I you can get a long-term punt insured with NRNB, then it’s a weight off your mind. It can also give you something to bet around if you want to supplement your wager or have any additional bets.

Best Ante Post Betting Sites

All decent online bookmakers that offer horse racing markets will have an ante post section on their sportsbook. It may be under the name Future Races or Future Racing, so as to make it more accessible to casual punters, but providing this comes at standard. Most betting sites we recommend here include the option of ante post bets. Given the risks involved with them, please gamble responsibly and within your means when taking a punt.


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Jamie Clark
Jamie Clark
Jamie Clark

Jamie Clark has been with from the very beginning and penned the very first pieces of content that appeared right here. Known for his horse racing expertise, his strong gambling knowledge comes from childhood where he was surrounded by both horses and betting. The godson of a former on-track bookmaker at Market Rasen Racecourse, Jamie ended up working in the same industry and became Sports Editor of heavyweight bookies Coral for three years before they merged with Ladbrokes. After a successful spell freelancing for other big names in the business, he helped us launch this site with his skills, experience and ability coming in useful. Read long form content across a range of betting subjects from Jamie right here.