Horse Racing Betting Terms – The Ultimate ABC Glossary

Like many sports, hobbies and interests, horse racing and indeed betting on the horses can sometimes seem to have a language all of their own. Whether you are a newcomer to racing or not, you may sometimes come across a word, phrase or piece of jargon that you aren’t familiar with.

That’s where we can help by explaining the various racing betting terms in a simple and clear manner. We’ll be adding to this on a regular basis to bring you a comprehensive A-Z racing guide to horse racing betting vocabulary.


An accumulator, often referred to as an “acca” for short, is a type of bet that differs from a single bet in that it needs more than one selection to win in order to return a profit. A “double” (see below) is the simplest type of accumulator and has two legs, however, accas can effectively have an almost infinite number of legs.

From a double, you progress up to a treble (three picks), a fourfold, fivefold and so on. The returns on accas can be huge, even from a small stake, making them a very popular racing bet. However, the more legs you add, the harder it is to win, because all picks must be successful for you to get anything back.

Ante Post

An ante post bet is one placed before the field is fully confirmed and these can be made anything from a few days to more than a year in advance. If you like your racing bets to offer value, ante post horse racing bets are a great choice. Obviously, placing bets before you even know what horses will be racing carries extra risk but you are rewarded by bigger odds. Note that normally you won’t get your stake refunded if the horse doesn’t run for any reason, unless there is a non runner, no bet offer in place.

Best Odds Guaranteed

Best Odds Guaranteed (BOG) is a popular racing offer run by most of the best racing betting sites. This promotion means you can place a bet at the published odds stated on our odds comparison/the bookmaker’s site and you don’t need to worry about the odds drifting.

If the odds do get longer and the horse has a higher Starting Price (SP) than the odds you took, bookies offering BOG will pay you out at the higher odds. Equally, if the odds get shorter and the SP is lower, you’ll still get the bigger odds you initially accepted.


A double is the simplest form of multiple bet and is a wager with two selections, also called picks or legs. Both of these selections must win in order for the bet to win and this is a great way to increase the racing odds you get.

A simple double might be one horse to win the first race at a meeting and another to win the second. If either horse fails to win you lose your total stake. However, if both win the odds and returns can be significant, with the stake and winnings from the first leg rolling onto the second bet.

For example, if you make a £10 double and the first horse is 2/1 and the second horse is 4/1, your winnings are worked out as follows. £10 at 2/1 returns £30, which is then carried over to the 4/1 bet, returning £150. That equates to a total return of 14/1.

Each Way

Each way betting is very popular in horse racing and is a good alternative to a win bet, especially if your horse is priced at longer odds. An each way bet is effectively two bets, with half your total stake going on the horse to win and half going on it “to place”. This means that a £5 each way bet costs a total of £10.

The win portion of the wager is treated as normal but the terms for the place part of the bet depend on type of race, the number of horses and the bookmaker. In many races, for example, the place portion of your bet will pay out at 1/5 of the odds for a top three finish.

If your horse wins then you get paid as a winner on both halves of the stake. If it finishes second or third you lose your “win” stake but get paid 1/5 of the odds on your each way bet. As such, a £5 each way bet costing £10 in total at 10/1 returns £15 if the horse is second or third. If the horse wins you get a very tidy £70.


Evens, or even money, simply refers to odds of 1/1 in fractions or 2.0 in decimal betting odds. This means your profit is the same as your stake if you win, meaning you double your money.


The favourite is the horse or selection at the shortest odds in the market. This is the horse the bookies think is most likely to win. If you disagree you can “oppose” the favourite, or “take the favourite on” by backing an alternative horse at longer odds.


In certain horse races, a handicap is calculated which, in theory, tries to make all horses have an even chance of winning. The handicap comes in the form of extra weight in the saddle. The handicapper uses past performances to decide on the level of the handicap. In addition, depending on the type of race, factors such as the age and sex of the horse, the sex (in some countries) and experience of the jockey, and previous wins at a certain level affect the handicap/allowance (the allowance effectively being a positive handicap that reduces the weight in relation to other runners).

In-Play Betting

Many horse racing bookmakers now offer in-play betting, also sometimes called live betting. This means you can actually place bets once a race has already started. Note that the odds can change very rapidly in-play and so our odds comparison doesn’t cover in-play odds – for now at least! Also, the footage of the race you are watching on TV or via a live stream, may be delayed. In-play bets are subject to a slight delay, meaning there is a gap of around five seconds from when you try to make the bet to the bet actually being confirmed.


When more than one horse has the shortest (and same) odds to win a race they are said to be joint-favourites.

Lucky 15 (and Lucky 31 and Lucky 63)

A Lucky 15 is a popular racing multiple bet that features four selections. For example, you might back the favourite in the first four races at a meeting in a Lucky 15. The bet consists of 15 bets in total, including all possible singles and accumulators that can be created with those four picks.

As such a Lucky 15 includes four singles, six doubles, four trebles and one fourfold accumulator. If just one horse wins you will win that single but normally (depending on the odds) you would need three or four winners to make a profit.

A Lucky 31 uses five selections to create a total of 31 bets and a Lucky 63 has six selections and 63 bets. All the bets effectively have their own stake, so a £1 Lucky 15 will cost £15 in total.

Multiple Bet

The term multiple covers a huge range of betting options that all have one thing in common: they feature more than one selection. Sometimes the words multiple and accumulator are used interchangeably, however, whilst an acca needs all legs to win, not all multiples do, for an example a Lucky 15 or a Yankee.


In betting tipping, the NAP is a tipster’s top pick at a meeting or of the entire day. The phrase is derived from the card game of the same name, the “NAP” being the best hand.


NB, meaning “Next Best”, is a tipster’s second best tip behind the NAP.

Non Runner

A Non Runner is a horse that will not feature in a race despite having been initially declared. This is a late withdrawal, often due to illness or unsuitable ground. For normal bets, which is to say not those placed ante post, you will usually get your stake refunded on a non runner.

Non Runner No Bet

Non Runner No Bet (NRNB) is a great promotion to look out for if you like ante post betting. NRNB is often offered in the build-up to big meetings such as the Cheltenham Festival and the Grand National meeting. It means you can place an ante post bet safe in the knowledge that should the horse subsequently not run, you’ll get your stake back and won’t lose out.


The odds, often called the prices, are how the bookies show what you will get back if your bet wins. Odds are most commonly written in a decimal format, for example, 2.5, or a fractional format, 6/4. Decimal odds show the returns you will receive from a bet of one unit, be that £1, €1, $1 or whatever. That includes your stake.

In contrast, fractional odds show the profit you will make, with your stake to be added on top. The number on the left, in our example above 6, is the profit based on a stake of the number on the right, 4.

So 10/1 means that if you bet £1 you will make a profit of £10 (and also get your £1 bet back for a return of £11). In decimal racing odds, 10/1 is simply written as 11, showing that a £1 bet returns £11.


Odds shorter than evens (see above) are described as odds-on. In decimal racing odds this is any number lower than 2.0, whilst in fractional odds, odds-on prices are where the number on the left is lower than the number on the right, such as 8/11.

Any horse that is odds-on is very well fancied to win a given race and has a great chance of success, although the reward is correspondingly small.

Rule 4

Rule 4 is used in UK and Irish horse racing when there has been a non runner (see above). It does not vary from bookmaker to bookmaker and is an industry standard. Rule 4 is applicable when a horse withdraws from a race after you have placed a bet (not including ante post betting). This usually explains why your returns were lower than expected when there has been one or more non runners, with a deduction being made to reflect what the odds would have been without the withdrawn horse or horses.

Second Favourite

The second favourite is the horse with the shortest odds apart from the favourite itself. In other words, the horse with the second-shortest odds.


A single is the most popular bet in horse racing and indeed most sports. As the name suggests you are making one single bet, with one selection, for example Sprinter Sacre to win.


The stake is simply the amount you want to wager. This is the value of your bet and the amount you risk losing if your bet doesn’t win.

Starting Price

The Starting Price, or SP, refers to the official odds on each horse at the start of the race. These are determined centrally by various methods in different countries but broadly speaking are the average odds available trackside at the beginning of a race.


A treble is an accumulator with three selections and all three must win or your stake is lost.


We put a lot of emphasis on odds and value here. Our odds comparison means you get the best available odds which improves your chances of getting value but doesn’t guarantee it.

People often misuse the word value when it comes to betting and often people talk about a lack of value in a short odds bet simply because the odds are short. The value is not dependent on the size of the odds alone but the relationship between the odds and the chance of winning a horse or bet has.

A bet offers value when the odds are higher than they “should” be, based on the chance a horse has of winning. For example, if we flip a coin and you are offered odds that are higher than evens, this is a value bet.

You have a 50% chance of calling right but given that odds of above evens equate to an implied probability of less than 50%, you would have a value bet. In effect you're getting the odds of an outsider on the chances of a favourite.

Of course, we know a coin has a 50% chance of landing on either side but accurately calculating what chance a horse has of winning is much more difficult. So, whilst using our odds comparison won’t guarantee you have a value bet, it will at least mean you are getting the best value available on that particular horse.


A “win” bet or “to win”, is the most simple and also the most popular bet in horse racing. This is a wager on which horse will win the race.


A Yankee is another popular racing betting multiple and is the same as a Lucky 15 (see above), other than singles are excluded. As with a Lucky 15 there are four selections but a Yankee only features 11 bets as the four singles are not bet on. As such you need at least two winners to get anything back on a Yankee bet.

A Super Yankee (sometimes called a Canadian) features five selections and is the same as a Lucky 31 but without the singles. Next you have a Heinz, which is like a Lucky 63, the removal of the six singles meaning there are 57 bets in total – hence the name.

Beyond those you can go up to seven legs with a 120-bet Super Heinz, or even eight selections (a Goliath with 247 bets) and beyond.