What are the most popular types of racing bets?

Few sports boast a betting scene quite as big or as lucrative as Australian horse racing. There are dozens of different ways to have a punt on the ponies, whether trackside, in the TAB, or over the phone, but online bookmakers are by far the most convenient method for laying down your racing bets. Let’s look at the most popular kinds of wagers for thoroughbred and harness racing, all of which (and plenty more besides) are available every day at our top-ranked online betting sites.

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Each of these secure online racing books has earned the HorseBetting.com.au tick of approval with top-shelf user interfaces for desktop and mobile, 24/7 customer service and support, and competitive odds across a wide array of diverse betting markets. They also run certified 128-bit SSL (Secure Socket Layer) digital encryptions to ensure your AUD cash and personal information are kept as safe as possible.

(* William Hill Australia will absorb Sportingbet, Centrebet and Tom Waterhouse in 2015. Existing customer accounts at these three sites will automatically move to www.WilliamHill.com, along with any betting credits and active bonuses therein.)

Straight bets

Even the most casual of part-time punters will be familiar with the basic concept of straight betting. These are the simplest types of racing and sports wagers – so if you’ve ever dropped a couple of bucks on the Melbourne Cup, chances are it was a straight-up bet.

These three horse betting markets are available on every race at every bookie the world over:

Win – Pick the horse you think will win the race. If it finishes in first place, you win the bet; if it comes second or lower, you lose. Simple.

Place – Rather than tipping a runner to win outright, here you can back a horse to finish anywhere in the top three places. The payout odds are reduced compared with a win bet, but the chances of success are much higher.

Each-way – A common option for recreational gamblers, the each-way bet covers both the win and the place at once. Thus, if your pick happens to finish first, you get paid for both the win bet and the place bet. Newbies should note that the stake amount usually refers to each half of the bet (e.g. $5 each-way = $5 for the win + $5 for the place = $10 total stake).

Exotic wagers

Why back just one horse when you can have two, three, four or more? An exotic bet allows you to cover several runners in the same race, although there is more to it than simply placing a series of straight bets on multiple horses.

Most racing exotics require you to pick two or more place-getters to finish in a certain order. The probability of winning such wagers is much lower than your straightforward win and place bets, but the payouts are much bigger.

Quinella – This is the most basic exotic bet for horse racing. Pick two runners to finish in the top two places, in any order. So if we chose #4 and #7 in a quinella bet, for example: we would win if #4 came first and #7 ran second, or if #7 won and #4 was runner-up.

Exacta – This is similar to a quinella, except you must pick the exact finishing order of the two horses. So if we took an exacta bet with #4 to win and #7 to finish second, we would not win a penny if #7 won ahead of #4. The upside: exacta odds are quite a bit juicier than quinellas.

Trifecta – Here you must pick the top three place-getters in the exact order. Trifecta bets pay even better than exactas, but that third placegetter makes them much more difficult to win.

First 4 – Yes, you guessed it: pick the top four finishers in the proper order. First 4 bets have been known to pay many, many thousands of dollars, as the third- and fourth-placed runners are often extremely difficult to predict (let alone in the right sequence) and often go to less-fancied horses with longer odds.

Box bets

If you want to cover all the bases, you can “box” an exotic wager and thus bet on every combination of your chosen horses.

For example, let’s say we play a box trifecta including horses #3, #5 and #9. This gives us six possible winning sequences (ordered first, second, third, from left to right):

– 3, 5, 9
– 3, 9, 5
– 5, 9, 3
– 5, 3, 9
– 9, 3, 5
– 9, 5, 3

You can box as many runners as you like, thus allowing you to maximise your winning potential. With a box quinella, for instance, we might choose three runners for a total of three combinations, four horses for six unique sequences, five for 10 combos, six for 15, and so on.

With the bigger boxed bets, it can be costly to cover 100% of the total stake (e.g. a box first 4 with five horses would cost $120 if you wagered $1 on each combination). Hence, Australian bookies such as BetEasy offer what is sometimes called a flexi-bet, where you can play for a smaller percentage on each combo at more affordable stakes. So, for example: if the full price of a boxed trifecta is $60 but we only want to put down $12, a winning combo would return at 20% of the listed payout.

Racing accumulators

An accumulator is a kind of multi-bet which allows you to turn a small stake into a big profit by placing several different races on the one ticket. If you win the first wager, the winnings from that are then staked on the next race; if you win again, the process repeats. This keeps going until either: a) you lose a bet, in which case the entire multi wager is lost; or b) you win every leg of the accumulator, in which case you are rolling in the money.

Leading AUD bookmaker sites such as William Hill and Luxbet offer accumulator bets on selected races at every thoroughbred track in Australia and New Zealand, as well as major international races meets in the UK and Ireland, Hong Kong, the United States and elsewhere. These are the most common varieties:

Double bets consist of two races

Treble bets three races

Quadrella bets, more commonly called quaddies, feature four races

You can find racing doubles, trebles and quaddie bets at every top-rated Australian betting site. Some online bookies also offer six-legged accumulators, such as the Super 6 markets available every week at Sportsbet Australia.

Mystery bets & other special markets

Alongside your straight wagers, standard exotic markets and multi-bets, many of the best online bookmaking websites offer a selection of horse racing specials. Most popular among these is the mystery bet, where you choose the bet type, set the stake size, and a random number generator will pick the horses for you. There’s also the Super Exotic specials at Sportingbet (soon to be William Hill), where you can combine several boxed exotics on a single race.