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How to Bet a Trifecta in Horse Racing

Any horse race enthusiast must have come across the term trifecta when betting on the sport. It offers those who don't want to stake too much a chance to win big. Read on to discover what exactly is a trifecta bet and the things you should do to beat it.

How many different types of trifecta exist and which is better suited to your needs? Knowing how to calculate the costs and payouts is crucial. You can also discover when not to put such bets on when to exploit this type of wager and some of the approaches you can take with it to beat the bookies.

What is a Trifecta Bet in Horse Racing

BMB_Question MarkTrifecta betting is where you choose three or more horses in a wager to fill the first three places in the same race. It is also called a tricast or triactor. It is an exotic bet and similar to exactas but with the addition of an extra place.

With a horse race trifecta, you are trying to predict the outcome of who will win the race and fill the major places of second and third in-behind. There are various types of trifecta bets.

Straight Trifecta

BMB_Horse_HeadA straight trifecta sees you select three horses to be first, second and third in a specific order. For instance, Kauto Star to win, Cue Card to be second and Bristol De Mai to be third in the Betfair Chase. That precise combination of horses as specified in your wager needs to be the finishing order for this bet to pay out. If even one selection is off the bet is lost. 

Box Trifecta

BMB_Horse_HeadWith trifecta box betting, you can add more than three selections to the bet and increase the permutations covered by these being first, second and third in any order. For example, a four-horse trifecta box has 24 possible combinations in it, meaning you must multiply your unit stake by 24. While more potential outcomes are covered, your total costs on the wager are higher.

Wheel Trifecta

BMB_Horse_HeadUsing a trifecta wheel allows you to remove unlikely combinations that exist in a box bet. Say, for example, that Hurricane Fly is your leading fancy to win the Champion Hurdle, but there are three other contenders you think could be second and third. You could reduce a four-horse boxed trifecta with those 24 permutations down to just six by using a wheel.

Which is the Best Option

BMB_TrophyThere are upsides and drawbacks of a trifecta bet. While straight trifectas keep things simple, you have to be spot on with all horses finishing in the precise order you specify. This wager costs the least. To cover more bases, boxing your trifectas is an option but be aware that unit costs can get big very quickly and all but one outcome, the winning one, will be losers.

The trifecta wheel makes for an exciting approach. You can be more selective than with a box and eliminate possibilities that you don’t think will happen. Wheels still see the vast majority of outcomes wagered on lose, however. If you are going to use trifectas in your horse racing betting, then it may be wisest to make things as straightforward as possible and play them straight.

Top-rated Trifecta Bet Bookmakers

BMB_Markets GenericWithout further ado, we present you with the best international horse racing betting sites to engage in trifecta betting. The process of selecting them was by examining the odds, variety of races for betting a trifecta and whether they offer enhanced odds for these kinds of bets. 

Costs and Payouts with a Trifecta Bet

BMB_Implied_OddsA box trifecta will incur far greater costs than the other types. A €1 trifecta box containing five horses will cost you €60. This is where the trifecta wheel system can help keep costs down. If you have a strong view of who finishes first, you can reduce a five-horse trifecta by 80 per cent to €12.

Anything that helps to keep your costs down helps to mitigate losing combinations, and you stand a higher chance of making a profit. Calculating potential payouts is vital with trifectas. It is easy to get a return on a winning bet that is smaller than what you have staked in total.

Your potential winnings off a trifecta bet could be huge indeed. If you had picked out the first three horses in the 2020 Qipco 2000 Guineas, then a €1 straight trifecta paid €323.20 on the Tote. Even if you boxed the three runners in any order, your total profit would be almost €315.

The Most Efficient Trifecta Betting Strategies

BMB_Money_ProfitThere are different approaches you can take when you are trying to build horse racing systems that work. Excluding hot favourites, depending on the nature and type of race, is one option. If you are almost sure about the winner, however, then that requires a change of tack. Eliminating horses with no chances can also pay off, and likewise with small fields.

Excluding Hot Favourites

BMB_Number_One Statistically speaking, around two-thirds of all favourites fail to live up to their billing at the head of the market and don’t win races. On that basis alone, you may wish to exclude a favourite. With trifectas, the price you get on an odds-on market leader will shape the return of the overall bet. It may not amount to value even factoring in the appropriate fractions of prices for the second and third.

If you’re ‘Certain’ about the Winner

BMB_Number_TwoThere are no certainties in horse racing, but if you are confident you have found the winner of an event, then that largely renders box trifectas redundant. Look instead at placing a wheel trifecta, using your strong fancy to be first in all permutations you place. This will reduce your total outlay significantly. It will also increase your chances of turning an overall profit on the wager, which is what everybody wants.

Eliminating Horses with no Chance

BMB_Number_ThreeIn a similar vein, boxed trifectas can be replaced with wheeled ones if there are horses in the line-up with no chance of winning or placing. Big outsiders have small implied probabilities. Racehorses can and do outrun their odds, so keep that in mind, but winners at huge prices are far rarer. Any way you can narrow the field and create a shortlist of runners for your bet saves costs.

Trifectas in Small Fields

BMB_Number_FourRaces with small fields are perfect for placing trifectas. There aren’t lots of horses for you to assess and that makes drawing up your shortlist much easier. Betting around the favourite with a wheel trifecta is an option here, depending on how strongly you fancy it. Alternatively, you may wish to take the market leader on with the second-favourite. Such races tend to be your best chance of pulling off winning trifectas.

How to Exploit Weaknesses in Trifecta Betting Pools

BMB_Best IconBetting pool markets may be weaker than their regular fixed-odds counterparts. A pool is only as good as the number of bettors engaging with it. The returned dividends of horses can often be worse odds than the fixed odds starting prices from bookmakers.

Any disparity the other way around, where pool betting odds are better than those available with the bookies can help you with your trifecta bet. This is statistically more likely to involve horses that aren’t the favourite.

Weaknesses of non-favourites can work in your favour with trifectas as you may get more significant fractions on being second/third. Looking at the 2000 Guineas result again, the pool betting paid out €12.20 from a €1 stake on the winner Kameko.

That is slightly better than the €11 return you received at fixed odds of 10/1. This raises a general point about using weaknesses in the pool as opposed to betting on a sportsbook. If you can get a better price on some horses in such markets, then that is definitely to your advantage.

More Exotic Betting Options

If you are looking to back multiple horses to finish in the top positions, then the trifecta is not the only viable option. Other choices include exacta, quinella, and superfecta betting. What's more, we have written detailed guides for all of them, so feel free to browse: 

What is an exacta bet?

How to bet a superfecta?

What is a quinella bet?

Should I Build Trifecta Betting Strategies for Horses

BMB_Book SpyCost is the biggest reason for deciding against placing trifectas. If you cannot turn an overall profit from boxed trifectas, that defeats the object. If the regular fixed-odds betting market to win has a competitive look to a race, perhaps with two or more horses sharing favouritism, then it is going to be hard to come up with a shortlist of three horses.

Trifecta bets are challenging to pull off. Placing a serious, large money wager of this type is not smart. Stick to small stakes. Big betting handicaps with a large field do not make for a good betting proposition. There are often upsets in these races, where large outsiders win.

Any race where there are lots of horses to study is an indicator that you should leave trifectas alone. Looking at non-handicap events with five to 10 runners where there are clear penalty structures and race terms allows you to get a much better handle on things. If a race isn’t easy to study, then forget to put trifectas on it.

Full List of Trifecta Betting Sites

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