Beginners guide to horse race betting

Welcome to BetFC. The site that teaches you the basics of betting, all in one place. If you’re a beginner to horse racing betting then we can guide you through the ins and outs and get you up to speed in no time at all. BetFC is for people who are just that – beginners or novice punters. The main focus of this section of the site is horse racing, however the principles can be applied to pretty much any sport you want to bet on.

Horse race betting guides

Read through our guides and go from novice to expert in no time at all! We walk you through how to bet on horses whether its online, in a bookies or at the race course.

Step 1 – Get a free bet to get started – with Coral our recommended bookie

There’s loads of free bets around from every major bookie but we’ve searched around and found the easiest to claim for the novice punters – Coral. It works on the simple premise – You register and bet £5 and you’ll get a £20 free bet*, nice and easy. This is great if you’re new to betting as you don’t have to part with much cash to get started.

Click here for £20 free with Coral*

18+. UK+IRE only. Min first bet £5 at odds 1/2 or more. Tote and Pool excluded. Must be placed within 14 days of account reg. £20 credited as 4 x £5 free bets. Not valid with Cash Out. Free bet valid for 4 days. Free bet stake not returned. T&Cs apply.

Step 2 – Look at the race cards and form

If you’re going to the races for the day then get a copy of the race card to look at for the runners and riders. If you’re betting on line go to the horse racing home on Coral and select todays races. Then scroll down to this part of the screen where you’ll see all the days races.


For an example of what to look for we’re going for the 1.05 at Taunton, when you click into it you get this race view which is full of information but can be a little over whelming at first.

Card for a specific race

What the columns mean  (left to right) –

Draw – Stall number if racing from them and the number that will be on the side of the horse.

Horse/ Jockey/ Trainer – The name of the horse, who’s riding it and who the owner is – Under neath is a prediction from a virtual run of the race using a computer system to rank the horses.

Form/ Age/ weight  – We’ll cover how to read the form next, the age and weight of the horses will vary depending in what type of race it is. On some grounds people like to back the lighter horses.

RP rating – This is the rating of the horse from a system developed by the racing post news paper and give an indication of the horses potential.

Previous odds – The odds on racing move quite frequently and this shows you which way they are going. Horses where the odds are moving down quicker are know as “steamers” and horses who’s odds keep getting higher are know as “drifters”.

Current odds – This is the live price if you bet now, to place your bet click on the green button, this will send the selection to the bet slip on your right.

Better win only odds – On some horses you can get better odds by not taking an each way bet on the horse, this means you’re backing the horse to win. If your a beginner at horse race betting make sure you don’t back anything under 4/1 each way as if they don’t and place then you’ll get less than your original stake back.

Step 3 – Read the form to pick your horse to back

Here’s the second favourite in the race, stay out of court, and we’ll use this as an example of how to look at its recent form.

How to read racing form

From is read from right to left so in this example Stay Out Of Court has finished 2nd in his last race, 3rd before that and second before that. This is a good example of a horse who’s ready for a win or a good bet in the “to place market”

Beginners guide to reading horse racing form

This now gives us the full details of the last 5 races including the date, ground, weight, position, who won, jockey, official rating and the Racing post rating. As horses form improves the ratings increase.

As a guide you an look for horses that have dropped weight, jockeys who’ve been successful on a particular horse and what length the wins were over. We can see in this example its last 2 wins have been over 3 kilo meters (3k under race conditions) and in good (Gd) and good to firm (GF) ground. The going in this races is good and its also over 3K which makes this horse very back able in this race.

To find more each way bets you can look for horses that have “placed” in previous races. This means they have finished in the top 4 in larger fields, top 3 in mid size races and top 2 in races with not many horses.

Its all in one place, laid out in simple terms, and will give you the information you need, to start navigating the sometimes complex world of sports betting.