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Horse Racing Betting

If you intend to bet frequently on horse racing rather than just have the odd flutter on the Grand National or the Derby, you must take the time to get to know the sport. The better you know your subject, the better your chances of making a profit.

Take the time to familiarise yourself with the top jockeys and leading trainers, the many different racecourses and types of race.

This article will highlight some of the best horse races in the UK and the best sportsbooks for these events.

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Understanding Form

Betting on Horse RacingGood recent form is a good place to start when making your selection but you need to have a grasp of the other factors that can influence the outcome of a race. These include the going, the distance, the track and sometimes the draw. You should also have an understanding of the handicapping system where horses are weighted in terms of ability.

Some horses have a marked preference for either fast or slow ground. Obviously the weather in the UK is very changeable so you need to check the latest going reports as close to the meeting as possible. It is no good backing a horse that needs soft ground to show its best form if it ends up running on a road!

The distance of the race is also paramount to a horse’s chances. Surprisingly horses can still go off at ridiculously short prices without any evidence that they can stay the distance. A case in point was the Derby in 2013 when the 2000 Guineas winner Dawn Approach was hot favourite on the strength of a win over half a mile shorter than the distance for the big race. Horses have specialist distances and sometimes even one furlong can make the difference between having a good chance and no chance whatsoever.

The UK’s racecourses are more variable than anywhere else in the world. Some horses prefer to race left-handed or right-handed or possibly favour a flat galloping track over one that is undulating. Study the horse’s previous form to discover any marked preference.

The draw can be the downfall of many gambles. Often the bias is not evident until the day of the race so you must also take this into account, particularly in big fields. Some tracks have a more obvious bias such as Chester, which is a narrow turning track. Horses drawn high have little or no chance in the sprint races as they are taking a longer journey than those on the inner and often have to use too much energy early in a race.

Racing in the UK is split into Flat and National Hunt. The Flat (Turf) season starts in the spring and runs through until November when the top-class National Hunt horses take over the spotlight. The jump season then runs alongside all-weather flat racing through the winter months with the emphasis on the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Flat Racing

The most important races of the flat racing turf season are the five classics: 1000 Guineas (three-year-old fillies), 2000 Guineas (three-year-old colts), The Oaks (three-year-old fillies), The Derby (three-year-old colts and fillies) and the St Leger (three-year-old colts and fillies).

You can bet ante-post on all five classics for months in advance. These races are restricted to three year olds and are raced at level weights to determine the champion three-year-old over a mile, a mile and a half and a mile and three-quarters.

The first significant betting race of the new turf season is the Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster in March the new season. The same venue hosts the final classic with the St Leger in September.

The biggest meeting of the year is Royal Ascot, attracting many of the best horses from around the world. There are five consecutive days of top quality racing with races framed for every type of racehorse from the five furlong sprinter to the two and a half miles of the Ascot Gold Cup.

There are festival meetings held regularly throughout the summer. Newmarket is the headquarters of flat racing and stages the popular July meeting featuring the July Cup, a six-furlong Grade 1 sprint. York stages the Dante meeting with trials for the Derby and Oaks as well as the Ebor Festival. Glorious Goodwood features the one-mile Sussex Stakes and the meeting is second only to Royal Ascot in terms of quality.

There are top class races overseas throughout the season but The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe in France and the Breeders’ Cup meeting in the United States are among the most sought-after prizes in the sport and are always well attended by horses from the UK and Ireland.

National Hunt Racing

The Jump Racing season revolves around the Cheltenham Festival meeting in March. The best hurdlers and steeplechasers from Britain and Ireland contest championship races over four days of top class jumping action.

The headline event is The Cheltenham Gold Cup, run over three and a quarter miles for the best chasers in training. The best hurdlers over two miles (the shortest distance in National Hunt racing) compete for The Champion Hurdle with the best over three miles competing for The World Hurdle.

Four-year-old hurdlers have their own championship race in The Triumph Hurdle. The best novice hurdlers and chasers compete over a variety of distances and bookmakers offer odds for many of the top races throughout the year.

The only jump meeting that can possibly rival Cheltenham is The Grand National meeting at Aintree in April. The National is still the most popular betting race in the UK as seasoned chasers race over four and a half miles and the stiffest fences in the country.

The Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury in November is the first top class chase of the season and is often won by a leading contender for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. The King George VI Chase is the feature event over Christmas, a race now associated with multiple winners One Man, Desert Orchid and Kauto Star.

The Welsh National takes place at Chepstow immediately after Christmas and often features future Grand National horses. The Scottish National at Ayr and The Irish National at Fairyhouse are big races in their own right but do not attract quite the same class of runner as Aintree.

Sandown stages a number of high class races throughout the year and brings the curtain down on the season with The Bet365 Gold Cup, formerly known as The Whitbread Gold Cup.

Other famous horse racing events:

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