Horse Racing Spread Betting – Our Complete Betting Guide

Horse Racing Spread Betting – Our Complete Betting Guide

Horse racing spread betting offers a different element to wagering on one of your favourite sports. Instead of betting on fixed odds provided by the bookies, there are different markets crafted from all parts of a horse race.

These markets offer a new perspective on horse racing and gives you the chance to use your knowledge of the sport to win your bets. We’ll now break down all the key facts that you need to know about these sites and why it is one of the best online sports betting avenues.

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Spreadex Horse Racing Spread Betting Screenshot(Source: Spreadex)

The first thing you need to know about spread betting is that it is completely different to fixed-odds wagering. For fixed-odds wagering, you’re offered betting odds by a bookmaker and you simply place a stake. If you’re successful, your winnings are calculated on the value of your wager amount and the odds of your bet, whether it be a single, double, accumulator, forecast or trifecta among others. For a complete breakdown read our fixed-odds horse racing guide here. The formula is straightforward and allows bettors to make their bets and watch whether their horse wins or places.

Horse racing spread betting brings different elements into play with your wagers. You can look at the odds and buy or sell a horse’s chances to win the race based on the starting price. Using the buy or sell method, there are also numerous other wagers available.

These betting sites also offer markets such as race and jockey indexes, where horses and jockeys are given values based on their chances of winning a race(s). Bettors can back whether they will finish higher or lower than the anticipated value. Matched bets allows bettors to pit two horses or jockeys against each other, while you can bet on the winning margin in distance. There are no shortage of spread betting options, but you should still consider the odds at hand before placing your bet.

Spread betting does come at a greater risk as you’re liable for losses based on the value of the odds at hand. However, you can also win more than would for betting on fixed-odds. There is a careful balance to strike, so ensure you’re comfortable with the rules of spread betting and the funds at stake before placing your wager.

There are many types of horse racing spread betting markets available online. Here are the most popular types examples that you can find on the leading betting sites.

Spreadex Horse Racing Spread Betting Markets Screenshot(Source: Spreadex)

Starting Prices

You can buy or sell on horses based on their starting prices for the race. Unlike fixed-odds betting, there is a greater movement of odds on spread betting, allowing bettors to capitalise on the movement of odds. Bettors can use knowledge of horse racing to bet on or against horses in the field. This type of bet offers particularly good value for selling against the favourites in races, although it does come at a greater risk.

The value of your stake can secure you a significant payout, but can also cause for you to be liable if the horse wins the race. So, there is a careful balance to strike between how ambitious you want to be on this particular bet. If you have a strong conviction and have put in the time to research the horses in the field, then it could be worth your while.

Race Index

A race index is where points are awarded based on where a horse places in a race. Most bookies base their index where the winner of the race is awarded 50 points, the second place horse 25 and the third place horse 10 points. Alternatively, if there is a large field for a race such as the Grand National or Cheltenham Festival, the scale is adjusted to add an additional horse at the lowest rank of 10 points, while the second place horse and the third place horse are scaled upwards to 30 and 20 points respectively.

Race Index For Fields 11 Horses Or Less

PositionPointsWinner50 PointsSecond Place25 PointsThird Place10 PointsFourth and Below0 Points

Race Index For Fields 12 Horses Or More

PositionPointsWinner50 PointsSecond Place30 PointsThird Place20 PointsFourth Place10 PointsFifth and Below0 Points

Before every race, a horse is awarded a value by the bookies based on where they are expected to finish in the race.

For example, a favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, could be awarded a value between 40 and 42. You can either sell or buy respectively on the two values.

You can sell on the 40 value on a stake of your choice, and the principal is exactly the same for buying.

If you sell the 40 value at £1, and the horse goes on to win the race, you’ll stand to lose £10 as a liability. This is because there is a minus 10-point difference between the horse’s sell value and the actual result of the race in favour of the bookies.

40 (sell value) – 50(horse standings) = – 10 (loss)

If the horse were to not finish in the top five, you would stand to gain £40. This is because there is a 40-point difference in your favour.

40 (sell value) – 0 (horse standings) = + 40 (win)

The sum of money involved either for a win or a loss is based on the value of your stake. If you were to sell at an increased value of £5 and the horse were to finish outside the top three, you would gain £200. The principal is the same as using £1, but you multiply your value by five rather than by one.

Buying on a horse is more straightforward, but carries the same risk and reward. For a bet on the favourite to yield a profit using the race index it would need to win.

For example, a £1 bet on the buy market at 42 would yield an £8 win. This is because the margin of points falls eight points in your favour.

50(horse standings) – 42(buy value) = +8(win)

If your horse were to finish third in an 11 horse race, rather than win, you would stand to lose £32 in liabilities.

10(horse standings) – 42(buy value) = -32 (loss)

So, you must bear in mind all the potential costs for using the race index before placing a horse racing bet using the spread.

Jockey Index

The jockey index works in a similar way to the race index, although the value given to a jockey is based over the course of one day/meeting rather than a single race.

PositionPointsWinner25 PointsSecond Place10 PointsThird Place5 PointsFourth Place or Below0 Points

Jockeys are assigned a value based on their expected performance for wins, second and third-place finishes. You have the option to buy or sell based on their values in the same manner as you would on the race index.

Spreadex Jockey Index Screenshot(Source: Spreadex)

Ensure you check all booked rides before a meeting to determine which jockeys are in action on which horse. If there are last-minute changes to the ride based on injury or other circumstances, more often than not the performance of the horse will count towards your bet even if your selected jockey does not compete.

This market is a particularly notable one for major events such as Royal Ascot and Cheltenham Festival, where the leading jockeys will be in action on many of the top horses in the sport.

Favourites Index

The favourites index is another form of index betting that is available for race days. Bookies will assign a value based on how many points they expect the favourites to accumulate based on their race index.

You simply have to buy or sell whether you believe that the favourites will fail to reach the mark or surpass it. This is a very similar market to the jockey index, but focuses on the leading horses on a particular race day rather than the rest of the field.


You can also place horse racing spread bets on the total winning distances over the course of a meet or festival. It is a particularly notable bet for events such as Cheltenham Festival, although it is readily available at race meets across the world.

The bookie will provide a value it believes that the cumulative winning distance will be, and you simply need to bet on whether the correct amount will be over or under the amount.

There is a cap on the top winning value at 12 lengths, which protects both the bookies and customer in case of an outlier result. The majority of races are decided by a lesser margin. There are special markets available for alternate lengths, although these offer greater risk-reward for both parties. For distances less than a length, the values are as follows;

Nose 0.05, Short Head 0.1, Head 0.2, Short Neck 0.25, Neck 0.3, Half a length 0.5 and three-quarters of a length 0.75

So, if you have a strong understanding of the respective fields on a race meet or a festival, this can be a good way to make a solid profit.

Winning Favourites

Betting on winning favourites is another popular horse racing spread market that is available from all leading betting sites. You have the option to buy or sell whether the amount of winning favourites will exceed or not the value given by the bookie. It all depends on how you feel about the quality of the favourites in a particular race meet.

Match Bets

Match bets allows you to narrow the field of a horse race down to two competitors. All you need to do on this market is bet on which horse will win or lose by a particular margin. The betting site assigns values to both competitors based on their prediction of how they believe the race will go. You can either buy or sell on either horse using your stake.

Spreadex Match Bets Screenshot(Source: Spreadex)

The most a horse can win by is 12 lengths for flat racing and 15 on the National Hunt. If you buy and your horse is successful by more than the assigned value, your profit can be increased by a significant amount from your original stake. Alternatively, if the horse fails, you can be liable for the losing distance.

Horse racing spread betting is more nuanced than traditional fixed-odds betting, so it requires a greater emphasis on strategy. Given that the stakes involved can be more volatile, you need to be aware of all the key elements that go into picking winners for horse racing. Here are our top tips.

Research is vital before placing any bet, but especially for horse racing when there are so many elements to consider. Before you back any horse or jockey, you will want to know all the key details such as their form and injury history. There are numerous resources available online that provide extensive details about the past performances of horses and jockeys over the course of their careers. You can easily immerse yourself with this information to give you all you need to know about all parties before placing your bet online.

Knowing the Owners and Trainers

After following horse racing for a period of time, you’ll get to know the key people behind the scenes, the owners and trainers. Owners can be heavily involved or completely hands-off, leaving their charges in the hands of trainers. It can be notable if an owner places a horse in a specific race or meet. Look out for these little tells that will be covered by horse racing news sites. Knowing the top trainers from flat and jumps racing is also crucial. Names such as Aidan O’Brien, John and Thady Gosden, Willie Mullins and Nicky Henderson are among the leaders in their respective fields. Their horses are always among the best at the top events, but at the same time, their charges are not infallible. Horses from unheralded yards can just as easily win major events. Bear this in mind before placing your wagers.

Understanding The Markets

We’ve detailed the majority of the racing spread markets that are available online. But, you need to understand all the complexities of the markets before you place your stake. Ensure that you’ve read through all the information and double-check the details.

Then, you can feel confident signing up and submitting your bets across the wide range of markets, including race index, jockey index, winning distances and more. Horse racing spread betting provides a greater nuance than simply betting on the winner of the race.

So, there are good opportunities to secure a profit even without backing the horse that crosses the line first. Capitalising on the wide range of markets can lead to a fruitful wagering experience.

Picking The Right Race/Event

Selecting right race or event can be just as tricky as picking the best horse or jockey. For those starting out spread betting, the major events are probably the best to choose because there is so much more information about the runners and riders along with other elements such as the weather and grounding at the racecourse. As you build confidence with horse racing and the spread betting markets, you can use the wide range of options that are available from the top bookies that offer odds for races worldwide.

If you’re new to horse racing, you must avoid the pitfalls of novice bettors. People that are new to horse racing can fall into the trap of backing the favourite all the time or selecting their horse or jockey based on sentiment. A successful bettor removes sentiment and bias out of the equation and is simply picking the horse that is best suited to win their wager based on the key elements of a horse race. If you indecisive about a horse then it’s probably not the option for you to choose. Fortunately, there are no shortage of races and meets every day, so you should have no problem finding a horse that you want to back.

Watching your budget is even more important for spread betting than it is for fixed-odds due to the extra risk of liabilities. While you can secure significant profits for winning your spread bets on horse racing, you can only lose large amounts of money in liabilities if your wagers fail. When starting off, begin with small bets before gradually working your way up. Only wager with what you’re comfortable losing and ensure you read all the details of the bet before confirming your bet online. So, bear all these factors in mind to ensure you’re not losing funds when spread betting online.


Spreadex Home Page Screenshot(Source: Spreadex)

SpreadEx is one of the best spread betting sites available in the United Kingdom. If you’re looking for a perfect spot to start your horse racing spread betting journey, SpreadEx has all of your wagering options covered.

It has hundreds of markets for betting on horse racing, whether you’re betting on a race at Cheltenham Festival, Royal Ascot, a basic meet at Newbury Racecourse or even for events further afield in the United States, South Africa and more. All races are covered to the fine details at competitive value across the board.

SpreadEx are experts in spread betting. You’ll struggle to find a betting site that offers a wider range of markets. Its indexes are fair and provide enough value for bettors to lodge their wagers for race, jockeys and favourites.

There are even options for fixed-odds bets if you wish to revert back to a traditional form of betting. SpreadEx are one of the few betting sites that provide this comprehensive service for horse racing betting.

Beyond the markets, SpreadEx has a compelling sign-up bonus available for spread betting. Customers can also expect to receive regular promotions for betting on horse racing, with options for free bets and bet insurance. There are a great range of features available, including cash-outs and live streaming for horse racing. SpreadEx also provides a very useful guide to spread betting, offering FAQs and explanatory videos.

SpreadEx has a brilliant betting site and app available for wagering online. It’s easy to navigate and find all your betting markets. The aesthetics are clear and easy on the eye, ensuring that you will not get a headache from looking at the site for too long.

Sporting Index

Sporting Index Home Page Screenshot(Source: Sporting Index)

Sporting Index is another good option for horse racing spread betting due to the quality of its site and app. It starts with its new account offer for new customers, providing up to 50% cashback on net losses of £500 for bets placed within the first week of your registration. It allows users that are new to spread betting a chance to get familiar with all the wagers available on the Sporting Index without the prospect of facing a significant loss.

There are up to 18 sports to bet online with the Sporting Index, including horse racing. However, it does not quite provide the range of horse racing markets as you’ll find on SpreadEx. Sporting Index is limited to races in the United Kingdom and Ireland. As a result, you’ll not find as many markets. This is slightly disappointing, but the service provided is still a solid one, although not as effective as SpreadEx. There is also the option for fixed-odds wagers, where more markets are available for horse racing.

The betting site itself is very easy to use, so you should have no issues placing your wagers and depositing funds. However, the aesthetics are not quite as easy on the eye and the features are lacking compared to SpreadEx. There are also no promotions for existing customers on spread betting, but you’ll find options for fixed-odds for horse racing and others. Sporting Index is a solid spread betting site, but there are few thrills.

There are pros and cons to both horse racing spread betting and fixed-odds horse racing betting. There’s no right or wrong answer as to which format is best. It’s all down to your personal preference. But, there are noticeable differences between the two formats and what you can get out of your wagering experience as a customer. Here are our, top points to consider for both forms of betting online.

Pros and Cons of Horse Racing Spread Betting


Extensive range of betting marketsPotential for significant profitsMakes every race excitingRewards bettors for being boldAdds a different dimension to betting


You can lose more than you betCan be tricky to understand at firstOnly a small amount of sites offer spread bettingNot as many promotions available than fixed-odds

Pros and Cons of Horse Racing Fixed-Odds Betting


Easy to understandCan control your lossesKnow how much you can winWider range of promotions available


Potentially not as lucrative as spread betting

Horse racing spread betting is gaining in popularity and it’s not hard to see why. It offers a different dimension for betting on horse racing, taking all the elements of the sport we know and love to a new wagering experience for customers. For those bettors that love risk-reward bets it’s the perfect time to start spread betting online.

Author: Benjamin Wood