Individual Race Spread Betting On The All-Weather

Author: 'The Man In The North'

Spread betting firms such as Sporting Index offer individual horse betting on every All-Weather race throughout the winter season. The ‘Man in the North’ examines the individual race bet and his individual approach to determining stakes and systems...

Betting a race spread in single figures


I have been betting spreads for about a year now, and the primary reason I consider spread betting for individual race betting is for each-way value.

The advent of the spread betting firms and online exchanges has meant that place betting is once again something which can be considered worthwhile. The difference with betting a spread for an each-way shot is that you can potentially win far more if the horse over performs.

There are certain situations where spread betting of this type appeals. Usually this is when a horse has been quoted a spread by firms like Sporting Index at under 8. At this point it may be worth explaining how the system works. Take the race below, in which the Sandform analysis pointed towards Mallard being good each-way potential from both the ratings and analysis:


Lingfield 7f Handicap

spread betting


Here Sporting Index are quoting Mallard at 6-8. They are also quoting the spread down to 4th place (top left), with 50 points to the winner, 30 for second, 20 third and 10 fourth. Therefore the potential returns are:


Mallard's finishing Position Returned odds

1st 42 times stake

2nd 22 times stake

3rd 12 times stake

4th 2 times stake

5th or higher Loss of 8 times stake


The returned odds are the difference between the points allocated to the horse and the spread which was quoted. So if Mallard were to finish third, the calculation is 20 (points) minus the spread (in this case 'Buying' or 'backing') at 8 points. This provides a win of 20 - 8 = 12 times stake profit.

The attraction of this spread is that you are able to win all the way down to fourth place, with a win or second placed result providing very favourable odds.


All of this is fine, and looks very good on paper, however, we need to determine whether this mode of betting actually represents value. This is entirely possible, using a simple calculation and comparison.

My particular way of looking at an individual race spread such as the Mallard example, is to consider it as four bets in one - each with different odds. So in the example above, it could be argued you are actually having the following 4 bets:


Mallard to finish 1st @ 42/1

Mallard to finish 2nd @ 22/1

Mallard to finish 3rd @ 12/1

Mallard to finish 4th @ 2/1


I calculate the cost of this bet as 8 stakes - because this is what I lose if Mallard is out of the first four (remember, I buy at 8 points, so I lose 8 times my stake if Mallard fails to make the first four).

When potential stakes are taken into account the real odds can be calculated at 2 points per bet (8 stakes divided by 4 bets), which halves the odds you are receiving:


1st 21/1

2nd 11/1

3rd 6/1

4th Evens

Now you need to compare with other bookmakers - what would the returns be if you staked 2 points the win and 6 points the place? The best place for this is Betfair, where you can bet separate stakes for both the win and place markets. 15 minutes before the race Mallard was trading at 18/1 the win and 5/1 the place - and you would only to paid if the horse finished in the first three.


Therefore on this occasion the Sporting Index spread appears to offer better value than the best alternative - providing a small profit on the 4th place as well.


However, there is one more twist to the calculation. With Betfair you have the possibility of a double payout if Mallard were to win - the win portion would return 36 points (18/1 @ 2 stakes) and the place would return 30 points (5/1 @ 6 stakes), giving a combined payout for the win of 66 points to your 8 point stake, compared to the 42 points provided by the spread bet. The full return on investment comparison is:


SportingIndex Return Betfair Return (after commission)

1st 42 points 62.7 points

2nd 22 points 28.5 points

3rd 12 points 28.5 points

4th 2 points - 8 points


This shows that the win bet provides a far superior payout with a conventional approach. However the payout for fourth place cannot be ignored, as there is much to praise the 10 point difference that Sporting Index provide.


That is why I adopt a hybrid approach to my individual race spread betting. I look upon it at betting for the place. Consider the following staking pattern on the same race, with the same overall stake of 8 points:


Betfair win bet at 18/1 to 2 point stakes

Sporting Index: buy at 8 points to .75 unit stakes (total stake 6 points)


Now the potential returns from the same stakes are:

SportingIndex Return Betfair Return (after commission)

1st 31.5 points 34.2 points

2nd 16.5 points

3rd 9 points

4th 1.5 points


Now the win actually provides a higher points return of 65.7 (+3 points) and although the place win is less than Betfair, the inclusion of the fourth place actually means I have a return on investment on a more frequent basis. If you keep a diary of bets, you will find that this payout of fourth place is very valuable in the long term.

As a synopsis of the rules on individual race spread betting, here is my hit list. As has been demonstrated, to get the best value needs a hybrid approach, but here are some basics to play with:


- Only bet on spreads if you intend to bet each-way.

- Only bet to a spread in single figures (usually equates to a 10/1+ shot)

- Split a win portion of your stake (20%) with a Betfair win bet


An easy way to calculate the bet stakes is shown below (to £10 stakes):

Betfair win bet of: £2

Sporting Index buy of £1 per point at 8.


Betfair win at £2

Sporting Index buy of £1.33 per point at 6.


Betfair win at £2

Sporting Index buy of £2 per point at 4.


Click to investigate a Spread Betting Account at Sporting Index

Click to investigate a Betting Account with Betfair


Important. The views and recommendations expressed in this article are provided for information purposes only. None of the commentary constitutes a recommendation to bet or open a betting account.


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