Matched Betting in Horse Racing: A Guide to Peak Performance

When it comes to matched betting on horse racing, many people have opposing views.

The reason for this is simple; horse racing prices change quickly in the final 15 minutes before a race.

But it’s not a bad thing. If you know what you’re doing, matched betting on horse racing is one of the most lucrative angles in matched betting. Sure there’s some jargon to understand but with a little effort, it’ll soon pay you back nicely.

So in this article, we’re going to explain how it’s best approached…

Why is Matched Betting Different in Horse Racing?

Matched Betting is essentially using the free bets from bookmakers to profit. There are plenty of different strategies to lock in a profit, but some bookmaker bonuses and promotions favour horse racing. Matched betting in a nutshell is when you place a back bet with the bookmaker, and then place a lay bet with an exchange to remove any risk whilst still recieving a bonus.

A classic example of this is a free bet offer from Paddy Power “Bet £20 Get £20 on the Cheltenham Festival”.

The steps to profit are as follows:

  1. Find a selection that is very close in price between Paddy Power and an exchange.
  2. Place a £20 back bet with Paddy Power, and then cancel any risk by placing an opposing lay bet with a betting exchange.
  3. You’ll likely have a small “qualifying loss” (commission on the exchange bet). This is effectively the price you pay for a £20 free bet.
  4. After the bet settles, you’re credited with the free bet from Paddy Power.
  5. Next, we repeat the process with the free bet to make some easy cash.

Sourcing the best odds matches and calculating the correct stakes here is the trickier part. With the free bet, we need to factor in that the free bet stake is not included with returns.

With the odds continuously changing and the need to calculate the optimum stakes it’s best to use a matched betting service. See why in our full OddsMonkey review here.

However, there are many different offer types, some of which are specific to horse racing. Exploiting those can be more lucrative than others…

Matched Betting In Horse Racing: Which Offers?

One of the most profitable matched betting tips for racing is to be excessively prepared.

As I mentioned in the introduction, there are two ways to look at matched betting in horse racing. To beginners it’s often viewed as a problem, odds changing as you place your bets is frustrating and stakes may need to be re-calculated. But to more advanced matched bettors, it’s a gift. Responding quickly before the bookies have time to update often means more profits, plus if you can adapt to the multiple horse races each day – you can get a lot more done.

Matched betting in horse racing might not be as popular as other sports like football, but it’s the most profitable application of the strategy in my view.

It all depends on what offers or bonuses are available with the bookmaker of choice, to be honest. For example, any bookmaker can decide to do a “Bet £25 Get £25” offer on any sport; but it’s now quite rare to see (without extra terms). Alternate offer types like second-place refunds, each-way bonuses and horse racing loyalty clubs are all easy targets.

Another suggestion is to plan ahead. Around major sporting events like the National or Cheltenham, the bookies often increase their offers. They don’t last for long but for some, they can provide a very lucrative week’s result.

Profitable Matched Betting Approaches to Horse Racing:

It’s easy to profit with a basic matched betting offer but the best results come from bespoke offers…

The two most important things to master when matched betting on horse racing are;

  • Learn how to use a Price Matcher
  • Learn how to use a Bet Calculator

When you know and understand how to use both, then the door opens for some very interesting strategies. The next important thing is that you fully understand how to use betting exchanges effectively.

There are four exchanges to choose from; Betfair, Betdaq, Matchbook and SMarkets. Betfair is the best option liquidity-wise on horse racing, however, Betdaq is very good if you like placing your bets closer to the off time. Commission rates vary between the exchanges; for example, Betfair’s commission can be between 8% and 2%, while Betdaq is 2% – there are offers of 0% Commission around although you may have to sign-up for a third-party platform.

The most profitable matched betting strategy on horse racing is via extra places.

This is when the bookmaker offers extra places on a race, you place an each-way bet with the bookmaker and then lay the win and place on an exchange…

As an example, the bookies are paying six places while the exchange pays four places. The steps to give yourself the best chance of profit are as follows:

  1. Bookie offer is the 2-20pm from Southwell, so that’s the race we are focusing on. They are offering six places, while the Betfair Exchange place market is four places.
  2. Find the best possible match in a price matcher. An example of this could be a horse at 7/1 (8.0) with Bookie and it’s trading 8.4 on the Exchange.
  3. You place a £25 each-way bet (total cost £50) with the Bookie.
  4. You then find the right stake to lay in a matched betting calculator. Place the lay bets in the win and place markets.
  5. All of the above will result in a qualifying loss – this will likely be pretty small.

This has set up the following position: if the horse finishes outside the top six or inside the top four – your bookmaker bet losses and your exchange bet(s) win meaning you have a small qualifying loss. However, if the horse finishes in fifth or sixth place, you get a jackpot scenario of collecting your each-way bet with the bookmaker AND the lay bets with the exchange.

The qualifying loss could be £5 or £6 each time you do this offer, but when the horse finishes in fifth or sixth place you could get typically between £80 and £120 depending on the odds. It’s a very popular strategy because it is less likely to have your account limited. Focusing on bigger meetings, for example, races on ITV Racing further reduces the chance of account restrictions.

Mistakes To Avoid When Matched Betting on Horse Racing…

The biggest mistake to be aware of is staking. There are a lot of ways to mess this up, and you absolutely must always use a calculator when matched betting on horse racing. Even the professionals would use a matched betting calculator – it just takes all the stress of the stakes out of your set-up!

Note: This is especially important when using the Extra Places strategy.

Another easy mistake, and a very obvious one too, is to avoid placing bets on the wrong horse. This can cause a huge loss; if you back a horse with a bookmaker, and then lay a different one by accident on an exchange this can result in massive losses to your betting bank. It’s an obvious one, but some horses can have very similar names. Because we have owners who run two or three horses in the same race, they can have the same colours bar a different cap too. This sounds like a stupid mistake, but it’s very common. Definitely one to avoid though, all it takes is double-checking everything.

Finally, the last mistake is using a matched betting qualifying bet, or indeed the extra place strategy on an Arb. This is a sure-fire way to get your bookmaker account limited or closed. An Arb is when the price is lower on an exchange compared to the bookmaker. An example of this is the bookmaker price is 9/2 (5.5) and the exchange price to lay is 5.0. Bookmakers hate laying arbitrage bets, because the odds are likely to crash fast on the bookmaker site to be in line with the exchange. It can be tempting to choose this because you would have no qualifying loss, but you’ll just very likely lose your bookmaker account and free bet bonuses.

Matched Betting on horse racing can be very profitable if you keep your discipline, know what you’re doing and take advantage of all the offers!

Related: Matched Betting Tips to Win Regularly in 2024

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