Betting on the horses is one of Ireland’s favourite pastimes; the sight of auld lads crowding out bookies has been a staple of the Irish landscape since time immemorial. Millions of bets are placed on the big races every year, even as punters slowly transition from bookies to online.

Here at BettingTop10, our goal is to bring you the best sites to place your wagers, as well as all the information you need to come out on top.

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From understanding forms of betting to professional tips, and more we do all the hard work so you don’t have to, and our recommended sportsbook sites cater for the Irish market.

Betting on horse racing can make the experience so much more exciting, and when you can win real money from the comfort of your home, it makes sense to learn all you can about online betting. Read on for our thorough guide to the wonderful world of gambling on online horse racing.

Horse Racing Odds

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Betting on the horses is relatively straightforward, but there are some things that you need to know before you start. The betting odds in Ireland are laid out in one of two ways.

  • Fractional Odds: Most sportsbooks in Ireland will use the fractional system which is the one you’re probably already used to seeing. These odds are displayed as 2/1, 4/1, 9/4, etc. When spoken out loud, this sounds like “two to one”, “four to one”, etc. If you bet on a horse and it wins at 2/1, you win €2 for every €1 you wager plus you get your initial stake back. If you bet €1 your total win would be €3. The smaller the odds are, the better the chance your horse has of winning the race.
  • Decimal Odds: This is where odds as displayed as decimals, e.g. 3.00. It’s important to note that a 3.0 decimal is not the same as a 3/1 fractional odds. To calculate your winnings on decimal odds, multiply your bet by the decimal shown and the answer is the amount you’ll win, including your initial stake. For example, if you have odds of 5.00 and you place a bet of €1, you’ll win €5 including your initial bet if your horse crosses the post first.

Top 5 Betting Options for Horse Racing

There are many types of bets that you can place on horse racing, so here at BettingTop10, we’ve put together a list of the top 5 popular betting options.

  • Each Way Bet: This is the most popular choice for Irish punters: you bet on the horse to place in either first or second. If your horse is first across the post you win as much as you would with a normal bet, but the good thing is you also make a bit of dough if your horse comes second too.
  • Bet Without: This is where you back a horse to win on the stipulation that the favorite to win is not included in the results.
  • Accumulator: The accumulator bet, the double, the treble and the goliath are all very popular, and they involve betting on several horses in several races, with all wins accumulating into a massive cash prize.
  • Forecast Bet: This is an alternative to betting on a horse to win. With a forecast, you predict the first three or four horses to cross the line and the order in which you think they'll appear.
  • Reverse Forecast: You can also do a reverse forecast, where you predict the first couple of horses to cross the post without guessing the order in which they’ll come. With this bet you must double your wager: it's like betting each way.

Top Tips For Betting on Horse Racing in Ireland

At BettingTop10, we’ve come up with a list of professional tips to help you wager like a pro. Once you’ve read our reviews and found a site to sign up with, having some expert advice can go a long way. Below, you’ll find some things to bear in mind before you hand over your hard-earned cash.

  • Form: If you want to bet on horses you need to study the form. This should always be your starting point as it provides all the stats, like the horse’s previous wins, how they fair on different terrain, who the jockey is, etc. This will all help when it comes to picking your horse.
  • Distance: The distance of the course is another thing to take into consideration, as is the distance the horse must travel for the race. A horse that bursts out of the gates may not have the stamina for a long race, so studying their past is important.
  • Ground: There’s plenty of different terrain, and some horses may prefer soft ground while others prefer dry. Check the conditions of the course and the weather for the past couple of days so you can assess how your favourite will do. The size, weight and gait of the horse can also affect how they perform on different terrain too.
  • Trainers: Study the trainers and read about how they’ve done in the past. Do they train for specific races?
  • Jockey: Some jockeys specialise in certain distances and race styles. Knowing the successful jockeys can help you to win big. After all, who doesn’t bet on Ruby Walsh?
  • Draw: When it comes to short races, the position in which the horse is drawn can make all the difference. If a horse is drawn on the outside, they have slightly further to run than those on the inside. In long races the distance can be made up but in shorter races it’s wiser to bet on the insiders.

How to Bet on Horse Racing Online

The first thing to do is sign up for an account with a sportsbook. At BettingTop10, we’ve done the hard work for you, so read our reviews to find the site that’s best for you. Once you’ve done that, it’s easy.

  • Log into your account.
  • Choose the racetrack and race number that you want to bet on.
  • Choose your wager amount.
  • Select the type of bet you want to place (each way, straight, etc.).
  • Watch the race live, get the result, and hopefully collect your winnings.

Horse Racing Annual Events

In Ireland, there are two types of races held at most courses. These are flat racing and jump racing. Flat racing is all about speed and the length of the track is 1,000 to 4,000 metres. The horses start from stalls, and there are no jumps or obstacles on the course. The flat racing season begins in March and ends in December. The most popular place for flat racing is the Curragh in Kildare. Jump racing often referred to as the National Hunt, runs over two miles (3,200 metres) and has several jumps. Races begin from a tape barrier. These races are available all year, but the main season runs from November to April. There are several varieties, including hurdle, steeplechase, and point to point. Below is a list of the scheduled horse racing events included in most sports betting sites.

  • Cork – Easter Weekend – 3 days of flat and jump racing in Mallow
  • Fairyhouse Grand National – Easter Weekend
  • Punchestown Festival – Late April – National Hunt Racing for 5 days
  • Curragh Derby – June/July featuring flat racing with Europe’s top horses
  • Bellewstown – June/July – three days of racing
  • Killarney – Mid July – 5 days of flat and national hunt racing
  • Galway Races – A week of races
  • Tramore – Mid-August – 4 days of racing
  • Listowel Harvest – Mid-September – 7 days of racing
  • Down Royal – Early November – National hunt racing
  • Punchestown Winter – Mid November – Grade 1 hurdle race
  • Fairyhouse Winter – Early December – National hunt racing
  • Leopardstown Christmas – St Stephen’s Day
  • Limerick Christmas – St Stephen’s Day
  • Grand National – world-famous annual jump horse racing event held in the UK in early April
  • Cheltenham Gold Cup – National Hunt race
  • Hennessy Gold Cup – richest chase handicap held in November/early December

A winning Strategy for Betting on Horses in Ireland

When it comes to forming a winning strategy, there are several things that you must take into consideration, including:

  • Study the form – look at the horses racing history, wins and losses, the trainer, jockey, and the horse’s weight.
  • Know your horse – get as much information as you can about the horse before you place your bet.
  • Understand the betting types – know what type of bets will work best for your budget.
  • Know the different course grounds – in Ireland, there’s flat turf, national hunt and all-weather racing. Knowing the type of ground a horse is most comfortable on can help you make your selection.
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