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How to Win from Place Betting in Horse Racing

When you're betting online on horse racing, you don’t just have to back racehorses to win. There is also place betting to consider. You need to know how it works and all the different place betting methods. We look at the pros and cons of backing a horse to finish in a place, how often it happens and which are the best bookmakers to make a place bet. You can also find information about which horse to choose and what to consider before making your choice. By the time we’re done, you should have a good idea if the horse racing place system works for you.

Best place betting sportsbooks

The following shortlist contains the top-rated bookmakers for place betting. We chose them by evaluating the odds, how many places they are willing to pay in big handicaps and whether or not they offer extra places in big events. 

22bet
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22bet
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888sport
8.6/10
8.6/10

Players Rating: (12 Rates) 8.6

What is place betting in horse racing

Betting on politicsThis type of bet is where you back a horse to finish placed. However, a place in horse racing depends on the number of runners in the race. This market is one where bookmakers pay more than just first place. A place bet can cover finishing second, third and even fourth. The conditions of what constitutes a place and horse racing place terms offered by bookmakers is something we will come on to discuss in full later. It can be a useful market for when you aren’t entirely sure that a horse will win, but still, feel it can run well. Let's see how often a horse places: 

Number of Runners Place Bet Pays Out On Theoretical Chance of Place Bet Winning
5 First & Second 40%
6 First & Second 33.33%
7 First & Second 28.57%
8 First, Second & Third 37.50%
9 First, Second & Third 33.33%
10 First, Second & Third 30%
11 First, Second & Third 27.27%
12 First, Second & Third 25%
13 First, Second & Third 23.08%
14 First, Second & Third 21.43%
15 First, Second & Third 20%
16 First, Second, Third & Fourth 25%
17 First, Second, Third & Fourth 23.53%
18 First, Second, Third & Fourth 22.22%
19 First, Second, Third & Fourth 21.05%
20 First, Second, Third & Fourth 20%

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As the above table shows, in theory, the more runners there are in a race, then the smaller the statistical chance you have of your horse running into a place. The best tracks to place bets on in are ones with five and eight runners in. These are the smallest fields that bookmakers payout in the second and third place, respectively. There is also the price of runners to consider, which is discussed below.

Place betting vs. Win betting

Betting on a horse to win is all or nothing for the first place. The more runners there are, then the higher the theoretical chance that it won’t win. Say, for example, the horse you bet on to win is the favourite. Then, they have the highest implied probability of winning the race. As other data show, about two-thirds of favourites are beaten for a win on average. That is one of the reasons why place betting could be a better alternative. The advantages and disadvantages of a place bet against a win only wager is worth highlighting to you in more detail.

Pros and cons of place betting

prosA significant plus of betting on horses to place is the wager pays out on more than the first place. Unlike the outright win market, it isn’t a case of all or nothing. You can make a profit on horses that lose the race, so long as they run into a place covered by the terms of the bet you have made with the bookies. This means you have more of the bases covered and mitigate some of the risks attached to betting on horse racing.

The obvious drawback of any place betting system is the price you receive. Although you could stand a better theoretical chance of getting a return on your stake, the odds offered by bookmakers are altered accordingly. All place bets will be shorter than the price for a straight win and often each way market too. This makes finding value bets for a horse to place more difficult. Odds determine potential profit and winning big in the to be placed market requires a different staking plan with more capital. We will come on to that later, though.

Calculating place market prices

To understand where the value lies in place betting, you need to know what the market should look like concerning an outright win bet. The number of horses running shape what the price should be. For all races with five, six and seven runners, divide the outright win odds by four to calculate place bets. If a horse is 5/1 (6.00) to win a six-runner race, then it is 5/4 (2.25) to place; that is to come first or second.

For non-handicaps with 8-15 horses, divide the outright odds by five. A 9/1 (10.00) win chance in a 10-runner race has a place price of 9/5 (2.80). This bet will payout on first, second and third. In handicaps of 8+ runners, divide the outright win odds by four. A horse that is 12/1 (13.00) to win is 3/1 (4.00) to place. Specific place markets are only available on the day of the race. That's why you need to able to calculate the prices. 

Horse racing bookmakers with the best odds

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How do horse racing place terms work

Bookmakers have rules they must follow when offering a place bet market. If there are four, three or two runners in a race, then you will not have this bet available. However, if there are five, six or seven horses competing, the horse racing place terms on offer will be a quarter of the outright win price on two places (first and second).

A place in horse racing betting goes up to third with a minimum of eight runners. In handicap events with eight to 15 runners, the terms are a quarter. For non-handicap races, meanwhile, a place is a fifth of the outright win odds. In the event there are 16 or more runners in a handicap, then the fourth place is also covered. These are the general rules, but there are some exceptions.

What to look out for when place betting

The bookies will also often offer extra places on horse races with large fields. This happens to increase betting interest in such events. A big field handicap can see place betting go down to fifth, sixth and on rare occasions even more places. However, there are also situations where horse racing place terms can be reduced. To cover three places, a minimum of eight horses must come under the starter’s orders.

A non-runner or late withdrawal from a race that decreases the field size from eight down to seven reduces any place bets you may have had to only counting for first and second. The only exception to that is if you have been lucky enough to place a bet ante-post with a "to be placed" element to it. A wager made under these terms will specify what places and fraction of the win price are offered for a horse to be placed and cannot change.

How to choose place horses

Choosing the right horses is a vital part of any place betting system. The market, a racehorse’s rating and its past form are some elements you can use to help you decide. Knowing the terms and conditions of the race are can also be informative. If a horse has to carry a penalty for past success, then that may affect its chances of running into a place. Ratings are critical because it indicates what a horse’s ability is, relative to the competition. The lowest rated horses will be balloted out if the event is oversubscribed with entries.

They aren’t worth betting on if you aren’t guaranteed a run for your money. Previous form figures show you what a racehorse’s record of placing is. If you find they have a history of running well, then that indicates that they could well be worth betting on to do so again. Remember, some horses specifically try to snatch a place. These types will be ridden by jockeys to pick up the pieces and come from off the pace, rather than taking on front-runners and fancied rivals. 

Staking plan and horse racing place system

All place bets online need a staking plan to match, and you as a bettor need to stick to it. The crucial consideration in your strategy is that a place bet will have shorter odds available than the outright win market. We’ve touched on these above, but just so its clear, here is another example. In an eight-runner handicap, a horse with a winning price of 10/1 (11.00) is a quarter of that, i.e. 5/2 (3.50), to be placed. Adjust your stakes accordingly for place bets, but always keep to your budget.

Each way betting

We’ve mentioned this in passing, but what is an each way bet? Of all place betting methods, it is the most popular because it combines wagers for a win and a place together on one slip. In other words, your unit stake is doubled with an each way bet. Half the total gambled goes on the win part and the other for a place. The advantage of each way bets is that although the win only element of the wager may lose, you could still turn a profit overall because the place part returns. It may even offer slightly better value than a regular place bet.

Is place betting profitable: by Book Spy

Yes, you can make money by betting on horses to place. By using each-way bets and/or place bets, you can make a profit even if the horses you back do not win the races in question. For that reason alone, the fact that more bases are covered than the outright market, it is worth adopting these types of wager into your horse racing betting strategy. Just keep in mind that, even though place betting offers you coverage, your returns will be less compared to win betting. Place betting is preferred when you are aiming at smaller but more consistent profits. 

Full list of place betting sites

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