Lay betting horse racing

Lay betting on horses

When you place a lay bet on a horse, you’re betting that the horse won’t win an event. If any other horse wins, your bet wins.

Often it can be profitable to lay the favourite for a race – the odds will offer the best value and you have a greater statistical chance of winning a lay bet than a back bet. This is because any other horse in the field can win the event for your bet to win.

When to consider lay betting

It can be tempting to place lay bets on all horse races. Although laying horses should form part of any good horse racing betting strategy, it’s important to realize that some horse races offer better lay betting opportunities than others. Ideally, you need to look for any race with an outcome that’s difficult to predict but that’s also likely to produce a number of short odds favourites at the top of the betting markets.

The lower the odds on the race favourites, the smaller the liability generated by the lay bets. The more unpredictable the race is, the more likely the lay bets are to win. So a race that combines unpredictability with short odds on the favourites is the best proposition for lay betting.

Races to target for lay betting

Typically, races to target for lay betting include:


Hundreds of sprint races are run around the world every year. Often described as ‘cavalry charges’ due to their fast and chaotic nature, these races are among the most difficult to call. Despite the fact that they are unpredictable, sprints routinely produce short-odds favourites who rarely go on to win. Look out for sprints featuring large fields because these are even more unpredictable.


Dozens of handicap races covering various racing formats are run every day. The use of weights in these races is meant to level the field, yet this doesn’t stop punters backing a handful of horses to low odds. Favourites are generally unlikely to triumph in handicaps, although punters need to be aware of the fact that even favourites may be priced at high odds and result in significant liability on lay bets.

Juvenile races

:Flat races for juveniles (2-year-olds) are amongst the most unpredictable in racing. As horses prepare for their 3-year-old seasons they are subject to major fluctuations in form and temperament. It is therefore the norm for these races to produce upset winners, and punters can usually benefit from low odds on these horses in the lay betting markets.

Early-season races for 3-year-olds

:The start of the flat racing season is a time of uncertainty for punters. Horses are emerging from their winter break and are subject to significant fluctuations in from as they begin their 3-year-old seasons. Also, bookmakers and punters only have 2-year-old form to work with when setting prices. Upsets are therefore the norm in races like the 2,000 Guineas and 1,000 Guineas.

Novices’ races

National hunt races for novices’ are amongst the toughest to call as punters have little in terms of form record to work with. Antepost markets therefore tend to be highly speculative, and rarely predict the finishing order in a race with any accuracy.

International thoroughbred races

Some of the world’s most prestigious international flat races routinely produce upset winners. With entries to these races traveling from all over the world and racing against each other for the first time there are countless factors that can upset the formbook. Races like the Melbourne Cup, Breeders’ Cup Classic, Hong Kong Cup and Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe present very speculative betting markets.

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