Most betting on horse racing is done on the night before a race or on the day of the meeting. In the past very few races were priced up before race day but the onset of internet gambling has made the sector more competitive so firms now issue prices as soon as the overnight declarations have been made. Backing a horse in advance of a race can be fraught with danger but bookmakers now provide some insurance against non-runners or price changes.
There is a certain satisfaction in backing a horse at 10/1 and seeing the price drop to 5/1. We feel we have bet ahead of the move and feel quite clever. However, if the bet is settled at 5/1 there is no financial gain. If you don’t clearly state you want to take a price on a horse the bet will be settled at the starting price. This can go in your favour when a horse drifts but that generally happens for a reason. Some horses do win after drifting in the betting but generally there has been some negative information.
Websites and online newspapers now highlight the market moves when the price for a horse goes up or down significantly. Price moves have their own momentum. When bookmakers cut a price some punters take this as a tip and back the horse. This leads to a further contraction. The move may be based on a rumour and started by someone in the know but there will quickly be followers who put pressure on the price. Fake news can create betting activity and prices change in response to demand.
A relatively recent concession is best odds guaranteed on all horse races in Britain and Ireland. Some bookmakers also offer the same guarantee on greyhound racing. The concession means that if you take an early price and the horse wins at a shorter SP bets will be settled at the bigger price. In some cases the SP might be bigger than the board price but bookmakers will payout on the best price. This promise insures against a horse contracting in the betting or drifting on the day of the race.
Market moves can happen in ante post markets. A stable employee may be privy to an exceptional piece of work and back a horse accordingly. This is particularly relevant to young horses that have not run or are inexperienced. A two-year-old horse may look impressive on the gallops which can set a move for a future race in motion. Its worth bearing in mind that the favourite for the Derby over the winter might not even run in the race or start at a bigger price than was on offer in ante post betting.
Ante post betting can be attractive because the odds on offer are often bigger than the starting price. You can bet on the four major championship races at the Cheltenham Festival a full year in advance. In effect you are locking up betting funds and the trade-off is potentially better value. However, all bets are lost if the horse is withdrawn. The risk of not getting a run is offset by better prices which make some appeal to punters. Generally if a horse is a non-runner all stakes are lost.
Bookmakers try to make ante post betting more enticing by offering non-runner/no bet for some races. This means if a horse is withdrawn all stakes are returned. This offer comes into play in the lead-up to the Cheltenham Festival and other major races. However, the downside is that prices are less attractive so bookmakers are giving in one hand and taking from the other. Best Odds Guaranteed and NRNB are good concessions but bookmakers will compensate by cutting odds.