Our Guide to Horse Racing Betting

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The so-called “sport of kings”, horse racing has a rich and varied history that stretches from chariot racing in Ancient Greece to the stellar flat and national hunt race meetings that we enjoy today!

Modern-day horse racing also remains synonymous with sports betting, with an estimated 97.4% of fans known to wager on events as they watch them unfold live or on the television.

In this comprehensive guide to horse racing betting, we’ll look at the best sportsbooks in Ireland while reviewing the best and most iconic horse racing festivals to take place on these shores.

Best Horse Racing Betting Sites by Category

🥇 Best Horse Racing Betting Site

🎁 Best Free Bet Offer

📡 Best Live Sports Betting Site

💯 Best Odds Betting Site

Horse Racing Betting Sites in Ireland

Incredibly, there are more than 300 online sportsbooks in Ireland, although not all of these have been created equal. Fortunately, we’ve ranked and reviewed the very best licensed sites that you don’t have to, so that you can wager freely and with genuine peace of mind!

But what are the best horse racing betting sites in Ireland, and what sets these operators apart in a competitive market? Let’s find out!

Ladbrokes

Top of our list is Ladbrokes, which is an iconic betting brand that’s synonymous with both online wagering and the Irish high street.

Home to more than 39 sports and a diverse range of betting markets, the Ladbrokes horse racing section is also one of the most extensive of its type anywhere in Ireland. Ladbrokes also has a market-leading live streaming service, meaning that punters can watch a wide range of races in real-time while accessing multiple in-play markets and bet types.

Currently, new punters can claim four, €5 Free Bets as part of a €20 sports betting Welcome Offer. Each wager must be deployed across selections with odds of 1.50 or greater, although it’s interesting to note that there are no wagering requirements in play here at all.

William Hill

Next up is William Hill, which is another iconic sports betting brand that can trace its roots back to high streets across the length and breadth of the UK.

Currently, William Hill is one of the best and most comprehensive sportsbooks in Ireland and the UK, with more than 60,000 sporting events available for punters to bet on. This includes a large number of international race meetings all year round, in bustling destinations such as England and Dubai as well as Ireland.

William Hill also offers some of the best and most competitive odds on the market, along with a €30 welcome offer that takes the form of two, €15 free bets. Once again, maximum odds of 1.50 apply here, while the offer expires 30 days from the moment that the initial qualifying bet is placed.

Bet365

Last, but not least, there’s Bet365, which is another seminal UK and Ireland betting brand that has led the marketplace since the turn of the century.

Interestingly, Bet365 is another platform that’s excellent for live streaming, with players who have a funded account or active wager able to access exciting flat and national hunt races from around the world.

We’re also fans of the welcome offer provided by Bet365, which is unique in the marketplace and takes the form of a free bet worth 100 credits. This is available to all players who make an initial qualifying deposit of €5 or more, while the maximum odds in play here are a little more competitive at 1.20.

How to Bet on Horse Racing

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Regardless of which of our listed sportsbooks you choose to wager on, you can rest assured that you’ll enjoy an immersive and secure wagering experience.

The question that remains is how do you bet on horse racing while making the most of your bankroll and optimising returns? Here is our take on the most popular racing betting markets and some select tips on how to leverage them successfully.

Single and Each-Way Betting

We’ll start with the two most popular horse racing betting markets; namely single and each-way wagering.

Single, straight win bets are the most common and straightforward, as they require you to back one horse to prevail in a particular race. Conversely, each-way betting is a two-part wager, with half your stake backing a selection to win and the other committed to a runner that you think will place (or finish in the top three).

For example, let’s say that you place a €5 each-way wager (€10 in total) on a runner priced at 8/1 to win (with a sportsbook offering ¼ odds for three places). If the horse in question places you’ll earn a return of €15, but in the event of a win you’ll bank €60 in total (€45 for the win and €15 for the place).

This explains the popularity of each-way betting, as despite its increased cost it can provide higher returns in the event of a win and enables you to retain at least some of your stake if the runners trails in second or third.

Top Tip #1: When engaging in singles betting, we recommend tailoring your stake to suits the odds on offer: you should increase the stake value when betting on short-price favourites that have a high probability of winning and decrease it when backing selections with longer odds and a more significant risk factor.

Accumulator Betting

Accumulators are also incredibly popular in horse racing, with this type of bet comprising four or more selections in a single wager.

Typically, these selections will take the form of single, straight win bet across different races, with the overall odds calculated progressively with the addition of each individual outcome. You’ll then lay down a single stake as usual, while each selection will have to come in for the accumulator to be successful.

There’s obviously a delicate balance to be struck with accumulator betting, as while increasing the number of individual selections boosts the potential return incrementally, this also increases the risk of the wager being unsuccessful.

Top Tip #2: Six-fold accumulators (or wagers with an even higher number of selections) are risky. We recommend prioritising outcomes with relatively short odds. This way, you can optimise your chances of winning without comprising your future returns.

Reverse Forecast Betting

With reverse forecast betting, you’ll be required to correctly select the first two horses to finish a race, albeit in no particular order. It’s a deceptively popular bet type too, particularly for horse racing enthusiasts who like to study form and previous meetings.

It certainly affords punters a little more freedom than traditional straight win wagering, as you can include two favoured selections in a single bet line.

Of course, the risk associated with this type of bet increases in larger or more competitive fields, while the task of selecting the top two as opposed to a single winner is statistically more problematic and less likely to come in.

Top Tip #3: Be sure to make use of data such as form, handicaps and how the runners perform in different conditions. You should also target small races or events with less competitive fields, especially if there are two or three clear favourites running against one another.

Horse Racing Odds Explained

In simple terms, sports betting odds represent the probability of each outcome pertaining to a particular race, match or tournament. They also create a clear value proposition associated with each outcome, enabling you to calculate how much you can potentially win in relation to your stake.

But how exactly do sportsbooks utilise odds to operate profitably? Well, let’s say that you were to wager on a coin toss, for which there are two potential outcomes with a 50% probability (which in betting terms translates into odds of evens or 2.00).

In this instance, the bookie will create an ‘over-round’ by offering odds of less than evens, usually 4/5 or 1.80. So, if the sportsbook was to take two bets of €100 each on both heads and tails (€200 in total), they’d only payout a maximum €180 regardless of the outcome and bank a €20 profit.

But how can you negate the house edge and turn the odds in your favour? Here are some tips to keep in mind!

Use and Manage Your Bankroll Strategically

We’ve already touched on the importance of having a strategy when betting on horse racing, where the amount that you wager should correlate directly to the odds and value proposition in question.

For example, if you’re wagering on a heavy, short-price favourite to win a particular race, you should look to optimise your stake and betting unit. The reason for this is simple; as it will help to maximise a potentially low return without requiring you to put your bankroll at significant risk.

Conversely, we’d recommend minimising your stake when betting on outcomes with long or extended odds. This not only helps to minimise losses in relation to a higher risk selection, but it also enables you to bank a sizable return if the wager eventually comes in.

Make the Odds Work for You

As we’ve already said, not all sportsbooks have been created equal, which is why you’ll find variable odds on the same events from one platform to another.

Some sportsbooks are also renowned for offering the most competitive horse racing odds, with William Hill providing a relevant case in point in the Irish market. So, by comparing the ante-post or in-play market and reviewing a selection of different odds, you can make more informed decisions and pursue the highest possible return.

Of course, you can also use sportsbook welcome offers and bonuses (such as those detailed above) to receive free bets and credits. This type of promotion allows you to chase 100% profit on selections that meet the minimum odds requirements, particularly when you choose a bonus that’s free from wagering requirements.

Use Accumulators Wisely

On a final note, the careful and selective use of accumulators also enables you to create extended and value-packed odds without overly compromising your chances of winning.

The key is to create a manageable number of selections within your acca bet (ideally between six and eight), so that you can strike the ideal balance between optimising probability and accessing lengthy odds that may still deliver a hefty return.

Similarly, you’ll need to select runners that are favoured and have an excellent chance of winning their respective race, based on a combination of odds and your reading of their form. If you do include an outside selection with extended odds, this will need to be based on data and your underlying knowledge of the event and runners as a whole.

The Best Horse Racing Festivals to Follow

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The horse racing calendar in the UK and Ireland is packed full of prestigious meetings, some of which are widely renowned and watched across the globe.

Within these legendary flat and national hunt meetings there are several iconic races, from the Cheltenham Gold Cup and the Grand National to the Irish Derby in the Emerald Isle. So, here’s our breakdown of the best horse racing festivals to follow as a punter, and a quick look at why they’re so special.

The Cheltenham Festival

Let’s start with the Cheltenham Festival, which is typically hosted in the final week of March each year and visited by more than 260,000 people on average. This makes it one of the top 10 attended sporting events in Britain, and this trend shows no sign of changing anytime soon.

A true test of stamina and athletic ability, this National Hunt meeting showcases some of the world’s biggest races and most successful runners, with the Cheltenham Gold Cup serving as the showpiece event on the final Friday.

The Cheltenham Festival is also one of the biggest horse racing meetings from an economic perspective, with this generating around €100 million on an annual basis.

The Randox Grand National Festival

Since its inaugural running back in 1839, the Grand National Festival has emerged as the single most iconic and valuable chase meeting in the world. To this end, its showpiece race (the Grand National) carried a total purse of €750,000 in 2021, with the winner banking a cool €350,000 for their efforts.

This race typically features a bustling, 40-strong field, who must navigate 30 iconic and incredibly challenging fences if they’re to prevail. Held on the final afternoon of a three-day meeting, it’s known to attract more than nine million TV viewers and draws bets from even the most casual and part-time punters!

The meeting is home to a number of other premium, Grade 1 races too, including the Betway Aintree Hurdle and the JLT Melling Chase (which is hosted on Friday afternoon).

The Irish Derby Festival

No list of this type would be complete without the three-day Irish Derby Festival, which is Ireland’s biggest horse racing event and is held at the iconic Curragh Racecourse at the end of every June.

The event currently runs between a Friday and Sunday, with the meeting’s showpiece race (the Irish Derby) usually taking place on the Saturday and considered to be the single most valuable horse race in Eire.

It’s certainly the biggest and most prestigious of the five Irish Classics, and one that has built an incredibly rich history ever since it was first run in 1866. Often, the runners here have transferred from the Epsom Derby, with a select number of horses having earned the honour of winning both races.

OK, we hear you ask, but what other festivals and race meetings are available for punters to wager on throughout the year? Here’s a snapshot of the biggest festivals from the UK, Ireland and even overseas!

FestivalMeeting TypeDates (s) and DurationProminent Races
The Dubai World Cup (at the Meydan Racecourse)FlatLate March (1 day)The Dubai World Cup
Coral Scottish Grand National Meeting (at Ayr)ChaseMid-April (2 days)The Scottish Grand National
QIPCO Guineas Festival (at Newmarket)FlatEarly May (2 days)The 2,000 Guineas, the 1,000 Guineas
The Kentucky Derby (at Louisville, Kentucky)FlatLate MayThe Kentucky Derby
Royal Ascot (at Ascot)FlatMid-June (5 days)The Gold Cup, Prince of Wales' Stakes, Golden Jubilee Stakes
King George Weekend (at Ascot)FlatLate July (3 days)QIPCO King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes
Qatar Goodwood Festival (at Goodwood)FlatLate July / Early August (5 days)Goodwood Cup, the Sussex and Nassau Stakes
Paddy Power Cork Grand National Day (at Cork)ChaseLate October (1 day) 
Famous Fairyhouse Winter Festival (at Fairyhouse)ChaseLate November (2 days)EasyFix Handicap Chase, the Bar One Racing Hatton's Grace Hurdle
The Breeder's Cup World Championships (at various locations annually)ChaseVaries annually (2 days)The Classic, The Turf and the Mile

Our Horse Racing Betting Offers

BookmakerOfferClaim
Bet365€50 worth of Bet Credits Claim Now
William HillPut Down a €10 Bet and Receive Free Bets Worth €40 Claim Now
888sportWager €10 on any Horse Race and you will be Given 6 x €5 Free BetsClaim Now
BetVictorMake a €10 bet and get free bet bonuses that are worth €30Claim Now
UnibetGet up to €40 back if you lose your first race bet and €10 casino bonusClaim Now

Racing Betting Festival Guides

Discover our range of racing betting guides on the worlds most prestigious festivals and gatherings below.

Scottish Grand National 20222022 Scottish Grand National Betting Guide and Odds. Get the Latest Info on this 2 Day Horse Racing Festival including Free Bet Offers & Market Tips.
Irish Grand National 20222022 Irish Grand National Betting Guide and Odds. Get the Latest Info on the Richest Chase in the Irish Horse Racing Calendar. Grab some Free Bet Offers & Market Tips.
Grand National 2022Grand National Betting Guide and Odds. Get the Latest Info on the #1 English National Hunt Horse Race. Bag Yourself Some Free Bet Offers & Market Tips.
CheltenhamCheltenham Festival Betting Guide and Odds by Betinireland. Get the Latest Info on this 4 Day Horse Racing Festival including Free Bet Offers & Market Tips.
Glorious GoodwoodThe Goodwood Races is One of the Horse Racing Highlights in the UK. Our Race Week Guide includes Odds, Betting Tips & Fixtures
Galway Races 2021The Galway Races are the Highlight of Ireland’s Racing Festival Calendar, and this guide of ours will provide you with all the information that you could possibly need about this event.
Epsom DerbyThe Epsom Derby is the richest flat race in the horse racing world, and this betting guide will provide you with all the information that you could ever need.
Irish Derby 2021When it comes to prestigious horse racing events in Ireland, the Irish Derby is definitely up there as one of the very best. This guide will help you to improve your knowledge on this race.
Punchestown FestivalThe Punchestown Festival is one of the highlights of Irish horse racing, and you will not find a more comprehensive betting guide for this festival than this one.
Royal AscotThe Royal Ascot is one of the biggest horse racing meetings in the world, with millions being bet on it each year. Before you bet on it, we recommend you read this guide.
1000 GuineasThe 1000 Guineas is the second of five classic horse races and this guide is one that will tell you everything you need to know about betting on it.
2000 GuineasThe Guineas 2000 is one of the five classic horse races, and this guide will provide you with all the useful information that you need to know about this prestigious race.

A Brief History of Horse Racing

As we’ve already touched on, the so-called “sport of kings” can trace its roots back to chariot racing in Ancient Greece and Rome, with horse racing also boasting a strong presence in myth and legend (such as the contest between the steeds of the god Odin and the giant Hrungnir in Norse mythology).

Latterly, the concept of thoroughbred racing became popular amongst aristocrats and royalty in the UK, with this earning horse racing its grand nickname. This also saw horse racing become well-established during the 18th century, with 1750 seeing the formation of the Jockey Club to help control and regulate the iconic Newmarket races.

This laid the foundation for the Epsom Derby to launch in 1780, while the five so-called “classic” races kicking off with the St Ledger Stakes four years earlier in 1776. It was around this time that a system of wagering and horse racing betting first became popular, and this helped to fund the continued growth and expansion of the industry.

Today, horse racing is a multi-billion-pound industry across the globe, both from the perspective of prize funds and sports betting volumes worldwide. To this end, the aforementioned Dubai World Cup remains the world’s richest race, with a cumulative prize fund of $12 million awarded after the 2021 iteration.