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In Play Horse Racing Strategy

Publish Date: 30/05/2021
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis

Not a lot of people know this, but in play betting on horse racing exists online. It isn’t widely available and certainly does not come recommended to novice bettors.
As we aren’t dealing with fixed odds betting, you will need a dedicated in play horse racing strategy that takes a different approach to ordinary gambling.

The rules and processes governing this type of betting are different. The starting point with an in play horse racing strategy is to get a firm understanding of how to use the exchanges to turn a profit on your wagers.

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How to in play horse betting

Better known as in running betting, because you place bets on the horses while they are racing rather than beforehand, in play horse race betting has very exciting potential. Speed is of the essence, both in your reading of a horse race and how it may unfold and when trying to get a bet. Let’s first review the key points:

  • You won’t find in play betting on horse racing through a fixed odds sportsbook.
  • Instead, it is available on betting exchanges where you take on other bettors instead of a bookmaker.
  • Be aware that the exchange will charge you a commission on any winnings you receive.
  • You could win bigger by betting on the exchanges, but also lose more than on a standard bet.
  • Weighing up those pros and cons is a matter of individual choice, and exchange betting isn’t for everyone.
  • You can back horses to win and lay them to lose through the exchanges.

You may have to make mistakes along the way, just like you did when learning the ropes of fixed odds betting. We are now going to assess some of the factors that are important to in play horse race betting and making it work for you.

What you need to know before starting in play horse race betting

In order for in play betting on horse racing to be worthwhile, you have to know your stuff. No other sport in the world is so entwined with gambling like horse racing. Many of the usual betting strategies and even the best horse racing system applies here, but with some additional extras. You still have to do your homework if you want to make informed choices and stand a greater chance of finding winners - even with the best horse racing sign up bonus.

There is more to in play betting than just knowing the form. Being aware of what horses did last time out or when they previously raced at this particular track is a start. There is merit in the old saying: horses for courses. Knowing whether a certain venue plays to a racehorse’s strengths takes on even greater importance with in-play betting.

Why? Well, different tracks - as well as the conditions in which a race is being run - can ask very different questions of horses. If the course is a tight and narrow one, then the race will always be on the turn, and the home stretch is going to be short. These tracks are all about speed normally, but what if there is lots of rain in the hours before a race? All of a sudden, there is a greater emphasis on stamina as the dirt or turf track turns sloppier or muddier.

Courses with long home stretches or hills to climb up the finish test horses in a different way. These are often battles of endurance, especially if the race develops approaching or round the turn for home. Frontrunning types can get caught as they tire by horses that stay further than the race distance. That is where in play betting comes into its own.

Watch out for horses coming from off the pace

It is sound in play horse racing strategy to watch those running in behind the leader(s) who may be waiting to pick them off. This scenario doesn’t always play out. Sometimes, a frontrunner has the grit and determination to grind things out and set their own sectionals perfectly. That takes great skill and confidence from the jockey on board who must have total faith in the horse and its reserves of stamina.

Just as often, however, their judgment can be wrong. It follows that horses racing behind leaders have to trade at a bigger price in the run. Even if it is customary for them to come from off the pace or be ridden under hold-up tactics at the rear of the field, the jockey is giving the horse plenty to do when letting others dictate the race.

Knowing when conditions suit and these tactics pay off is exactly the time to be engaging with in play betting on horse racing because you may have seen this happen before. If other bettors are ignorant of that and agree to take your bet, then that is up to them. You aren’t exploiting anybody, just using your superior knowledge of a horse and its run style in the pursuit of profit.

Using the exchanges to bet in running can supplement any regular fixed odds sportsbook, or exchange lay wagers you have made before the race got underway. That too is sensible in play horse racing strategy because you are getting more bases and potential outcomes covered. You just need to keep track of what bets you have had via which channels. This can get confusing when you have backed a horse to win on a sportsbook, then laid another you don’t fancy to lose before spotting something in running.


The value in horse racing betting in play

Why bother with something that requires you to act so quickly? That is a good question. The answer lies in the fact that in play horse race betting will probably get you better odds than ordinary pre-race exchange wagers or regular fixed odds on the sportsbook. Yes, betting is supposed to be a bit of fun and you should always gamble responsibly, but who doesn’t want to receive a bigger return on their investment?

If you can place a bet in running at the right time, namely when it looks like the horse in question is in trouble or has no chance of winning, then you could make a tasty profit. You need to know the horses a lot better than your standard, everyday bettor, and also have past evidence that it can rally from hitting a flat spot in order to come through the field and be in front at the line.

There is a subtle difference between that scenario and one where a horse just isn’t at the races that day. The jockey is already low in the saddle, maybe even bumping or riding them along already when the race is still developing. That is absolutely not the right time to be betting in play on the horses.

You are also relying on another bettor thinking your bet is worth taking on. Maybe they haven’t seen what you have from the horse in question in the past. You have the advantage of them though because you understand and appreciate value better than they might.

What about other horse racing betting strategies?

Away from the somewhat unique area of in play betting, horse racing has many other systems that are key to success for bettors around the world. We have taken a detailed look at some of these strategies elsewhere on the site and can give you guidance on pick 6 horse racing multiples offered for a day’s action at a particular track.

Elsewhere, we highlight the value of finding an each way bet so that you don’t lose out in the event your chosen horse finishes second or third in a race. There is also no shame in knowing how to hedge bets or use no risk matched betting at times, particularly if you are gambling on a big field handicap with many runners in with chances. Take a look at some sound strategic advice about those subjects too!

Our final thoughts on in play betting for the horses

We hope this in play horse racing strategy guide has proven useful for you. The key lesson to learn about this particular form of gambling is you cannot treat it like you would a fixed odds wager on a sportsbook and never has the phrase knowledge is power been more appropriate in a betting context.

Many smart bettors use in play betting on horse racing as it gives them greater returns than ordinary wagers and can be even more thrilling. There is still a margin for error of course. Just because a racehorse has come from off the pace or hit a flat spot at a key point in a race only to recover and win before, that doesn’t mean it will repeat that when you bet on it.

Horses are not machines. There is always the risk - regardless of whether you’re dealing with backing, laying or in play horse race betting - that they do not give their best on the day. You are still taking a chance when gambling in the run, but it is a pretty sweet feeling when you get it right at horse race betting sites. Don’t be surprised if in play betting on the horses develops and becomes more popular in the coming years!

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