How to Bet on Horses: Racing Betting Guide

Betting on a horse race can significantly heighten the excitement you experience while watching the runners battle for glory. You have lots of different betting options at your disposal when considering a wager on a particular race. You can also combine horses running in different races for multi bets. This guide on how to bet on horses explains the key options that you can choose from.

Horse Racing Betting Options

Horse Racing Win Bet

This is the most popular way to bet on a horse race. It simply requires you to predict which horse will win. Some races pay a fixed win, whereby you know the odds on each horse when placing your bet. For example, if you bet on a horse at 9.50, you can expect a $9.50 return for every $1 you wagered if the horse wins. Other races pay out on a pari-mutuel basis. All the money wagered goes into a pot, which is then divided up among the punters that chose the correct horse. The size of your cut is dependent upon the amount you wagered.

Horse Racing Place Bet

This is a bet on a horse to finish first, second or third in a race, provided there are eight or more runners. If there are between five and seven runners, place bets only pay out on the winner and the runner-up. If there are fewer than five runners, you cannot bet on the place. Once again, some races pay a fixed place and others pay out on a pari-mutuel basis, which is known as the tote or the TAB. There are different totes, such as the Victorian tote and the NSW tote. TopSport pays a dividend 5% higher than the Victoria TAB.

Horse Racing Each Way Bet

This is essentially two bets – one on the win, and another on the place. If you bet $10 each-way on a horse, you are betting $10 on it to win and $10 on it to place, so it requires a total stake of $20. If the horse wins the race, both the win and the place parts of the bet pay out. If the horse places, the win part of the bet loses, but the other part pays out.


This requires you to predict which horse will win the race and which horse will finish second. You must specify the exact order, hence the name. An exacta bet is always paid out on a pari-mutuel basis, so you do not know precisely what your winnings will be. However, if you choose two long shots, you can expect a larger potential payout than you would receive from selecting two of the favourites.


A quinella allows you to predict two horses and they can finish first or second in either order. It is similar to an exacta box featuring two horses, but the payout comes from a separate pot. You can expect a smaller payout on a successful quinella than you would receive on a successful exacta, as it is easier to predict the horses that will finish first and second in any order.

Duet Bet

A duet allows you to pick two horses, and they must finish in the top three. There are three separate dividends within this bet type – first and second, first and third, and second and third. It is easier to land a successful duet than an exacta or a quinella, so you will receive a smaller dividend. There must be eight or more runners for a duet to be available.


A trifecta requires you to predict the winner, the runner-up and the horse that finishes third, in that exact order. It is naturally harder to land a winning trifecta than an exacta, so you are rewarded with a larger payout if you pull it off.

First Four

You must predict the first four horses past the post, in that precise order, when placing a first four bet. As you would expect, the payout is larger than a trifecta if you are successful. It is also known as a superfecta.

Box Bets

A box bet allows you to group several horses together and then place a combination of exactas, quinellas or trifectas within that group. For example, you could box three horses together, and place a series of exactas on them. That would essentially be six bets: Horse A to beat Horse B, A to beat C, B to beat A, B to beat C, C to beat A, and C to beat B. If you went for a $10 stake, that bet would therefore cost you $60.

Daily Double

Our guide on how to bet on horses now moves onto multi bets. One of the most common is a daily double. This bet requires you to predict the winning horse in two specific races selected by the TAB. It can be difficult to guess the winners of two different races, so you often receive a large payout if you succeed. There are also running doubles, whereby you select the winners of consecutive races at a specific meeting.


This bet requires you to name the winning horse in three separate races. The profit from each win rolls onto the next horse, so you can rack up large profits, but the bet fails if one horse lets you down.


Pick the winners of four specific races on a card. You can also go for a straight six, where you need to predict the winners of six consecutive races.

Horse Racing Multis

You can add horses from different races to your betslip at TopSport and place multis on them. For instance, you might add horses from four different races. You could then place a four-leg multi bet on them. You could also place a series of doubles and trebles within that group. Alternatively, you could just place single win bets and doubles, or doubles and trebles. You can be very flexible, and you can choose different stakes for each type of bet. For instance, you could bet $10 on each horse to win, $5 on doubles, $2 on trebles, and a $1 four-leg multi.

Things To Consider Before Placing a Horse Racing Bet

Before betting on a horse race, you should try to gauge the talent of each runner that is set to compete. It is prudent to focus on how well each horse has performed over a similar distance recently, and how well it has fared against a similar calibre of opposition.

It is also important to factor in the trainer and the jockey. Many punters like to bet on horses saddled by successful trainers that have been rattling off a lot of victories in recent months. You are also betting on whether the jockey can steer the horse to victory, so it is worth conducting some research into the capabilities of the various riders.

These are some of the variables you should consider before betting on a horse race:

  • Race Type | Is it a maiden race for horses that have never won before, a claiming race, an allowance race, a sprint, an oaks race for 3-year-old fillies, or a derby for three-year-old males?
  • Class | How prestigious is the race? For example, the biggest races are assigned Group 1 status. If that is the case, has the horse ever run in a Group 1 race before? How did the horse perform?
  • Weight | In a handicap race, the weight a horse is carrying has a significant bearing on its ability to prevail.
  • Distance | Check the distance of the race, and delve into how well has each horse performed over the same distance or at a similar distance. You will be provided with the times in which they finished previous races, so you can make precise comparisons.
  • Post Position | Does the particular race or racecourse historically favour horses drawn to a specific barrier?
  • Running Style | Is the horse a frontrunner, a stalker that waits for an opportunity to pounce as the race develops, or a closer type that performs well in races with a lot of early speed? How well have frontrunners, stalkers and closers historically performed in the race you are betting on.
  • Form and Fitness | Has a particular horse run well in its last few starts? Is it carrying any injuries? Is it approaching the peak of its powers, or has it seen better days.
  • Ground Conditions | How does each horse perform when the ground is in a similar condition to the current ground at the racecourse?
  • Trainer | Has the trainer had a lot of recent success? Does he or she perform well in this race or similar races?
  • Jockey | Is the jockey experienced? Is the jockey talented? What races does the jockey tend to flourish in?

Answering those questions about the various runners in a particular race can help you make informed betting decisions. We hope you enjoyed this guide on how to bet on horses. You can now visit our horse racing section at TopSport, find a race you are interested in, and place your bets.

Horse Racing Betting FAQs

Where can I bet on horses?

TopSport offers betting on a wide array of horse races every day, including thoroughbreds and harness racing. You can place lots of different bets, including win, place, and each-way bets, along with exotic bets and multis. Check out our guide on how to bet on horses above to learn more about the various options at your disposal.

What can you bet on in horse racing?

The most common bet simply involves picking the winner of a race. However, you have lots of additional options, including the place, each-way bets, exacta, trifecta, quinella, daily doubles and all ups. Our how to bet on horses page explains what each of these bets means in detail.

What does place mean in horse racing?

If you bet on a horse to place, you are predicting that it will finish first, second or third in a particular race. That applies to races with eight or more runners, as the place only applies to the horses that finish first and second in races with five to seven runners. Read our how to bet on horses guide above to learn more about betting on the place.