How to Bet on Horse Racing
Horse racing is the most traditional betting sport and accounted for a significant proportion of betting before the onset of more sports-orientated websites. The emergence of exchange operators has also accounted for a move away from racing to a wide selection of other sports but most notably football.
Racing was the staple diet of off-course bookmakers especially in Great Britain when betting offices were legalised in 1961. Even until the start of the 1990’s most customers that entered bookmakers’ premises did so to bet on horse racing. Greyhound racing was also covered but turnover on that sport only reached significant levels when race meetings were abandoned due to the weather.
Horse racing is still shown in every licensed betting premises in Britain but these days it has to compete with other sports, virtual betting and Fixed Odds Terminals. Even so racing still accounts for more than 50% of turnover in betting offices.
British horse racing is structured around and is financially dependent on a levy paid by bookmakers to the sport in return for use of data and pictures. Other leading racing nations are more reliant on tote betting, most notably France and Australia.
Horse racing takes place around the world on a daily basis. In the United Kingdom there is a break in the schedules on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Good Friday, though other nations race on these days.
Racing is very popular in Southern Hemisphere countries such as Australia and South Africa. This means it is possible to bet on racing around the clock. Dedicated racing channels in several countries and the provision of odds by traditional bookmakers and exchanges means racing is a 24 hour betting sport.
Great Britain is the first country to have an organised structure of racing with racing having taken place in the 17th century in that country. The Jockey Club was formed to administer the meetings but now various different bodies share control of the sport.
The turf flat racing season runs from March to November in Great Britain. All weather racing now takes place during the winter which means there are opportunities for flat horses and jockeys all year round.
The most important races during the turf season are the five classics. Only three year olds are eligible to enter these races which are the most significant in establishing a horses breeding value.
The 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas are run at Newmarket in May. The Derby and Oaks take place at Epsom in June. The oldest classic in the sport, the St Leger, is run at Doncaster in September. The Triple Crown consists of winning three classics and only two male horses have achieved this distinction.
After the classics the most prestigious meeting is Royal Ascot which takes place in June. The Queen attends every one of the five days of the meeting which is just as much a social event as a racing fixture.
There are several other festivals that take place during the flat season.
All stage meetings over several days. These festivals attract the biggest crowds and greatest betting turnover.
A recent addition to the fixture list in Great Britain is Champions Day at Ascot in October. This fixture brings together the season’s best horses over a number of distances and for each gender. The meeting received a huge boost in 2012 with the appearance of Frankel, reputed by some to be the best thoroughbred to have ever raced.
The National Hunt Festival at Cheltenham is arguably the best racing fixture in the world. It brings together the best horses in championship races, running against the backdrop of Cleeve Hill in the Cotswolds.
More than one third of the season’s Grade 1 races take place at the Cheltenham Festival. The best hurdlers and chasers compete in long established races which generate huge amounts of business. The Blue Riband event of the meeting is the Gold Cup in which the best chasers race against each other over more than three miles.