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How To Choose An On-Course Bookmaker

While betting on horse racing online can be great, there’s nothing quite like betting on a horse live at a race track. Selecting an online bookmaker for horse racing is a process most of us are familiar with, but when it comes to selecting an on-course bookmaker, most of us have little experience. In this article we take you through the process of selecting an on-course bookmaker.

#1 – Best Odds

The most important factor for any punter is to search the betting ring for the bookie offering the top price about his selection. These days the betting ring is fairly uniform, with all the bookies connected up to Betfair or Betdaq and their prices moving in and out directly in the same way as the exchanges.

However, there are still bookmakers with their own opinions, willing to take on a short priced favourite and lay over the Betfair price if it suits their book. The astute punter will watch the market and move around until he has found a standout price.

#2 – Clearly Displayed Terms

With LED displays now commonplace the on course market has firmly moved into the 21st century, and some of the dark practices of the past have been outlawed. However there is still some discretion available and each-way terms are a n area where a wide range of terms are offered. Bet only with the bookmakers offering clearly displayed, standard each- way terms.


 Place Terms 

 Place Odds 


 Win Only (no place betting) 



 1st , 2nd

 25% of the win odds 


 1st, 2nd, 3rd 

 20% of the win odds 

 12-15 handicaps 

 1st, 2nd, 3rd

25% of the win odds 

 15+ handicaps 

 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th

 20% of the win odds 

#3 – Look In The Back Lines Where The Value Can Be Greater

Bookmakers with prominent front row pitches have often paid fortunes to secure the best pitches and do not have to be so competitive with prices to attract business to their well placed stalls. These tend to be the strongest players who have far greater turnover than those in the cheaper pitches away from the public. From experience it can be an amazing difference that a few yards makes to the amount of cash you can hold as a layer. From a punters viewpoint it is often better to search in the backlines for those who need to offer bigger prices to attract cash. They frequently go a point or two bigger and (as long as the each-way terms are clearly displayed) are worth giving them your custom.

#4 – Make Sure You Check Your Ticket After Placing The Bet

One of the most common causes of complaint for new racegoers is discovering they have backed the wrong horse (always after their original selection has won). The only way to avoid this is to clearly check the ticket you are handed as soon as they place the bet. Usually the punter will say to the bookmaker “five pounds to win number 8” and it is vital that the backer checks his receipt that all the details are correct. After the event has been run is too late to change anything. But all bookmakers can easily re-issue a ticket before the off, and are more than happy to do so.

#5 – Never Bet With A Bookmaker Wearing Trainers (or the engine running on his car)

An old saying that is not really relevant these days. In the past when the market was unregulated and various shady people held lisences, then punters used to jokingly say that the layer wearing trainers was primed to run off and not pay if the worst result in their book obliged. Infamous cases such as John Batten on Derby Day add fuel to this myth, but now bookmakers are extremely strictly governed by the gambling commission and run very professional operations on course.

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