Live Horse Betting: How Does It Work?

August 4, 2017 8 min to read

You may know it as in-play betting or in-running betting. It is the option to place bets on wagers during a sporting event through an online live platform.

While you will easily find the ability to bet live on a number of sports, from football, to tennis, to boxing, every sport requires specific strategies when betted on in-running. This rings especially true when it comes to horse betting, famous for the thrill of its fast paced momentum and unpredictability.

What strategies should one keep in mind when betting live on horse races? And how does it all work?

Almost two decades ago, Betfair introduced in play betting. After that, bookmakers quickly followed suit, taking live betting to new levels and pushing the bar every time with new features and better functionalities. If you’re not 100% sure about how live betting works, now is the time to read up!

One thing you should remember:

While a match is ongoing, the odds provided will fluctuate in real-time. This means that they are changing along with the circumstances of the game, match, or race. With a sport as fast-paced as horse racing, the pressure is on.

You will only get a short time to switch tactics, trade horses, or cash out when necessary during a race.

You need to be quick, and focused.

In-play racing strategies aren’t usually so appealing to the risk averse, mainly because of the roller-coaster of results it can bring.

Like the MLB, Horse-racing is known for being an unpredictable sport where the best can easily lose to the worst. But while MLB’s scoring pace is slow, horse races are extremely fast paced. So, if you don’t deal well with upsets, you may want to revise the strategies you’ve created to remain responsible with your bankroll.

live horse betting

In-Running Betting – Your Role

Betting In-Play allows you to place bets (either back or lay) after events have started – hence the term ‘In play’.Betting live on horse races can be a risky endeavour, but the rewards can be big, and if you do your homework, this can become a good stream of revenue.

You may be wondering,

Why is it risky?

The sport is volatile by nature. Horses can refuse to race, they may fall at the first or last fence, jockeys make errors, equipment failures like saddles slipping – all these things can change the market in a split second.

Your aim will be to react to these changes quickly and effectively.

For example, if you’re watching the race and realise things aren’t going your way, you can cash out, provided the bookmaker allows that option, or place another bet on another horse to redeem the situation.

Cash Out offered by bookies means that you get more control over your bets and allows you to take a return before an event has finished. With this feature you can Cash Out a bet in its entirety or you can partially Cash Out your bet, and leave the remainder of your stake to run.

Take a look at our article on the best bookmakers for in-live betting to check who has features such as the cash out option.

One strong advantage of in-play betting?

You will have the opportunity to place stakes on a number of smaller markets that are not available before a match. For example, bets can be placed on whether a certain horse will manage to overtake another.

This is what makes in-play betting so engaging and popular amongst both new and seasoned punters.

life horse betting

How Do You Make Profit When Betting Live?

If you’re trading in-play manually it’s important to have a strategy, be patient and make sure you have the patience and self-control needed to stick to it! If necessary, get a friend who can keep you focused.

• Learn About The Horses

In -play, betting gives you the opportunity to change your mind about the bet once you see what his happening on the field.

That means a sound understanding of horses is mandatory. By learning how certain horses follow specific patterns, you can predict how their performance will shift throughout the race. Some horses are front-runners, and some horses travel extremely well but don’t have the stamina to finish the race.

The odds on these horses look very good before the race, but these likely looking winners tend to be the cause of many upsets, especially to punters who are inexperienced.

At Betfair, you can place an odd – known as ‘laying’. You will want to be laying these horses, but only when they are trading short in-running.

On the flip side, there are horses that don’t travel so well or drop right off the pace in their races; these will trade often trade at much greater odds.
If you fancy one of these types of horses look to back it in-running and get yourself a much bigger price.

• Exploit Weak Spots

In-play horse racing trading strategies are no different to any other. You need to find an edge.

Look for a market that you believe has got the odds wrong. If you do your research, study the horses, you can find a weak spot. This is how pro punters make a profit.

Exploit vulnerable points within the market that offer more potential upside than down.

Look at previous races. But also observe how the market changes during a match that is streamed live. So, before you start making bets, observe. Ask questions.

For example, how do camera angles affect the market? Are there patterns in the way the market moves? Note how the market spring into life when the horses come around the bed.

Also, think about those that go to the track and thus do not experience any delay. When do they start to bet? How can you take advantage of this?

live horse betting

Okay, unless you’re a fan of statistics, this one is not going to be a lot of fun. Nonetheless, if you really want to place yourself in the best possible position, you need to look at hard data.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to collect and process numbers. Horse racing is extremely popular amongst punters, so you will be able to find data and statistics with a simple google search.

Yes, horse races are unpredictable and the performance of horses changes drastically according to their present condition and the profile of the track, but if you look at past records, you will be able to find trends and patterns.

When analysing a horse’s record, take into account how past matches differ from the one you will be betting on. Take a look at whether they

Take a look at whether they race in a similar type of track, distance, ground and class. Opposition research helps tremendously. Where there any other front-runners in the race besides this horse? How did this affect the behaviour of your selection?

• Get An API

Many punters bet in running by simply going through the betting exchange websites, this is not recommended as most live streams on bookmaker websites have delays.

Thankfully, you can download an API (Application Programming Interface) software. These are programs specifically designed to work with the exchanges and let the users access the markets faster and more effectively.

The most popular and comprehensive on the market are:

  • Gruss
  • Bet Angel
  • Geeks Toy

These sophisticated pieces of software can significantly enhance performance when betting in running.

Remember, when betting in running, speed is crucial. API’s offer a one click solution.

The Two Main Horse-Racing Betting Strategies

• Back-to-lay

This is a popular strategy, often discussed in betting forums and by tipsters. It consists of identifying horses that will trade at a short price in-running.

For instance, if you place a stake of £10 on a horse with odds of 5.00, and lay it back (set a wager on it) at 2.50 for £20, you would make £10 whether the horse wins or loses. Of course, this only works if you know the horses will trade short in-play.

You need to identify the horses that are front-runners and the strong travellers.

This is where studying data is key. One way to identify these types is to investigate their in-running trading histories, which can be found on the Timeform website.

The golden rule is that if a horse has traded consistently lower than its starting price and it is a similar type of race, there's a good chance it will do so again.

• Lay The Field

If back-to-lay requires a sound knowledge of the type of horse, lay-the-field requires an understanding of the type of race.

Laying a selection has always been a popular way to get a winning bet on the exchange. In a 10-horse race only one can win, so surmising the horses that will lose is far more feasible. If finding one loser is a good way to profit then what about two, three or four?

This strategy requires you to place lay orders in the system for EVERY runner in the race with the aim of laying multiple selections to achieve an overall profit.

For more information on how to lay the field, take a look at this video.

horse betting tips


In-play trading on horses is frantic but thrilling. If you follow the right strategies, maintain discipline, and remain focused, live horse betting can become a lucrative stream of revenue.

We hope that this post has offered a little insight into how live horse betting works and provided ways in you can improve your approach!

Author photo


Adam is long time Manchester United fan but admits that he has a few international favourite teams which he looks forward to watching and betting on for international events like the World Cup


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