How Does Betting Without the Favourite Work in Horse Racing?

Blurred Horse Race FinishHorse racing is no stranger to contests that feature some very strong favourites. While you might be confident that the leading contender will justify their odds-on price and get the job done, you will have to bet big to get any sort of significant returns. A £10 bet on a 1/4 favourite for instance will see you net only £2.50 in profit if your runner wins. Betting on strong favourites, therefore, is not an especially satisfying way to gamble even when they do win. Given that there is no such thing as certainty either, lumping money on the strong favourite is something many punters steer clear of.

So, what else can you do in such races to obtain some better value for money? One option would be to place a forecast/tricast bet where you aim to predict who will finish in the top two/three places. This is one popular way of increasing your potential winnings in races with a strong favourite.

Another option, which we will discuss here, is to place a bet without the favourite involved. We will show you how you can place such a bet, how the bet works and when it is a good idea to take advantage of this market.

What Does it Mean To Bet Without the Favourite?

How this particular market works is that the favourite will be ignored when looking at the race result.

Say we backed 2nd favourite Baron Slick in a race and he finishes second to the favourite Flame of Freedom. This would be a winning bet as the exclusion of Flame of Freedom promotes Baron Slick as the race winner as he has now become the highest finishing runner (without the favourite).

The other way of winning a ‘bet without’ wager is if your horse simply wins the race.

How to Bet Without the Favourite

When you go to bet on horse racing you will initially see the main ‘to win’ betting market that features all the involved runners. Most sites will however offer a few additional markets such as forecast/tricast, to place, and winning margin. Some also throw in a market most likely named ‘betting without’ or ‘betting w/o’.

Within this market, you can bet on any of the horses but not the favourite. The favourite will either be greyed out or simply not included as one of the betting options. Take a look at the image above for an example.

How Does Betting Without Change the Odds?

Now, this varies massively depending on the strength of the favourite. Taking an extremely strong runner out of the equation will mean the odds for all other runners drop significantly from those offered when the favourite was taken into account. Removing a very slender favourite in a well-attended race will have little impact, however. To show you how much they can differ, we have provided real-life examples from two very different races. In the latter example, we have omitted horses with duplicate odds and those with an extremely large price.

Race With a Strong Favourite (6 runners)

Horse Standard Odds Without Fav
Flame of Freedom 1/4 n/a
Baron Slick 13/2 10/11
Ruby Ribbons 14/1 11/4
Giveit Some Orange 16/1 7/2
Deevorgilla 18/1 4/1
Caleco 50/1 16/1

Race Without a Standout Favourite (14 runners total)

Horse Standard Odds Without Fav
Rose Bandit 4/1 n/a
Elzaal 11/2 4/1
Atyaaf 6/1 9/2
Fossos 15/2 6/1
Twice Adaay 8/1 13/2
Sambucca Spirit 9/1 7/1
Lucky Beggar 10/1 8/1
Jeans Maite 12/1 9/1
Indian Pursuit 16/1 12/1
Raabeh 20/1 16/1

As you can see, betting without prices can be a mere fraction of the standard prices or they can be just a touch shorter, plus everything in between. It is up to you to decide if the bet still represents good value or if you are better off taking your chances and just gambling on your selection to win in the main market.

When is it Best to Use Betting Without the Favourite?

Confused Couple Scratching Heads

There are a couple of situations in which it is worth looking into the betting without market. One is when you simply want to access better odds in a race that looks all but settled. It was no doubt a market many turned to whenever Frankel was involved as the formidable horse regularly set off at tiny prices, going as low as 1/20 at times. Backing him would return next to nothing, but exclude him from the mix and suddenly you have much larger odds to play with. You can always avoid races like this of course but if you are at a racecourse watching the action live, you are bound to want to get involved.

The other situation punters might turn towards betting without is when they simply want to be a little more cautious. Let’s say after browsing the full field, you are most tempted by the fifth favourite to win at odds of 10/1 but you also think the 4/1 favourite is worthy of respect. To remove the possible danger of the favourite scuppering your wager, you can take them out of the equation in exchange for reduced odds. This is usually a better approach than dividing your stake across two runners in the standard ‘to win’ market.

What Happens When There Are Joint Favourites?

Black and White Knight Chess Pieces

A very good question but not one we can answer definitively as it will vary by bookmaker. In most cases, they would just pick one name, most likely the one that opened the betting as the favourite. Just make sure the one you think is being excluded actually is before confirming your bet. Sometimes bookies will offer two or more ‘betting without’ markets for the same race, with each excluding a different named runner.

Can I Exclude Another Horse Rather Than The Favourite?

It is possible but it is something only a minority of bookmakers will offer on their website as standard. There are others that will accept such bets but you will need to request it specifically (often via Twitter). The premise is exactly the same only rather than excluding the favourite from the running, you might exclude the second favourite or the third favourite. This is a bet you may wish to consider if think your selection, most probably the favourite, faces one major threat in the race, possibly from an extremely hot-or-cold option.

Betting Without Selection

Take the 14:35 at Bath, included above as an example. For this race, say we really like the look of the favourite Merlins Beard (3/1) but we are concerned that Teemlucky (15/4) could, with a little bit of luck, snatch victory from him.

To play it safe, we could, as shown above, place our bet without the second favourite (Teemlucky). The price on Merlins Beard would shorten to 2/1 but you may think it is a price worth paying to remove a potentially threatening rival.