The Starting Price, or SP, as it’s more commonly known, is the price assigned to a horse or a dog at the start of the race and is calculated by using the odds of various on-course bookmakers, as well as other agents including the Press Association and the various betting exchanges.
These are effectively the official odds for the race and contrast with the earlier prices that were available on the different horses or dogs before the race began. When placing a standard bet on the day of a race, or at least once the live odds (as opposed to the ante post odds) have been published, you are often given a choice between accepting the current odds, known as “taking the price” or opting for the SP.
In the build up to the race, especially in the final minutes before it starts, the odds can fluctuate wildly. This is a reaction to the market – so large bets on a horse reduce its odds – or a reaction to changing conditions, for example the weather or the appearance of the animal. For example if a horse is sweating up and looking jittery the odds may lengthen, although in truth this too is really a market reaction as punters lay that horse on the exchanges and bet on other horses too.
Around 10 minutes before a race, the odds offered switch from the early prices produced by the bookmakers individually, to the board or show price, produced collectively by the bookmakers at that course. Quite often you will see a sudden change in the odds available at that point.
Should you Take the Starting Price?
When you place your bet you have a choice – take the price or go for the Starting Price. In theory whichever you opt for brings its own risk, because the SP could be higher or lower than the price at the time you place your bet. Choose the wrong one and you could find yourself missing out on the better odds.
Best Odds Guaranteed
Most decent betting sites offer some form of Best Odds Guaranteed on both greyhound and horse racing. We do into it in more detail in the specific BOG article, but put simply you are guaranteed the better of the two odds when you take a price. So if the odds drift and the SP is higher than the price you took, you’ll receive the SP. But if the odds shorten and the starting price ends up being smaller than your price, you’ll still receive the price you originally took.
Clearly the use of BOG removes the issue of whether or not to take the SP as it is always better to take a price if Best Odds Guaranteed is on offer. Most track side bookies don’t offer BOG though, so if you’re betting at the meeting – or for some bizarre reason at an online bookie who doesn’t offer it – you’ll have to make a decision on whether to take a price or gamble on the SP.