What Does ‘Betting Without’ Mean in Horse Racing?

Betting Without

The ‘betting without…’ market in horse racing refers to a bet placed on a race whereby either a named horse or an unspecified favourite will not be included in the results when it comes to settling your bet.

For instance, if you back a horse to win in the ‘without favourite’ market, your bet will pay out either if your horse wins the race or if it comes second to the favourite. If any horse other than the favourite wins, the ‘without’ bet will have lost.

The same applies to a bet placed on a “without” betting market that singles out a specific horse to be discounted in relation to the bet, for example, ‘Without Sprinter Sacre’. It is generally the case that a named horse in such a scenario will be the favourite, but this is not always the case.

How Does The Without Market Work?

Robot How it WorksThe betting without market, sometimes written as ‘W/O Favourite’ or ‘W/O Horse Name’, can be a great way to find a winning bet in a race in which the favourite offers little return based on the shortness of their odds.

When a favourite like Sprinter Sacre is priced at odds of 4/5, for instance, you would have to bet £50 to make a net win of just £40 (with total returns of £90 including your original stake). In a nine-horse race in which the favourite is 4/5, the odds of the other runners might range from something like 3/1 to perhaps 50/1, 100/1 or even more depending on their relative merits or lack of them.

In this scenario, if you fancied the second favourite to be head and shoulders above the rest of the field but very unlikely to beat the favourite, you might choose to back him in the ‘without favourite’ (or in this case the ‘without Sprinter Sacre’ market if specified as such).

If the second favourite in such a scenario was priced at, for example, 6/1 in the standard race winner market, moving to the without favourite market would decrease that runner’s odds to around the 5/2 mark. The exact odds that a horse will be offered at in this market will depend on a number of factors, of course, and there is no hard and fast rule other than the odds will be shorter by some degree.

Example of Without Favourite Betting Odds

Starting Gate

It might seem a fairly straightforward concept: you take the favourite out of proceedings from a betting point of view, thus all the other horses have a better chance of being the winner of the race, and hence their odds will be shorter. But just to illustrate the betting without favourite/named horse market, let us give an example.

Imagine there is an eight-horse race in which the runners were given the following odds in the race winner market:

  1. Snooker Loopy – 8/5
  2. Vindaloo – 5/1
  3. Snow Fairy – 6/1
  4. Best Mate – 7/1
  5. Stradivarius – 14/1
  6. Lord Jim – 18/1
  7. Knights Templar – 28/1
  8. Nag’s Head – 33/1

Now if we look at the odds offered by the same bookie in the ‘without favourite’ market (from which Snooker Loopy has been removed) we might have something like:

  1. Snooker Loopy
  2. Vindaloo – 14/5
  3. Snow Fairy – 16/5
  4. Best Mate – 4/1
  5. Stradivarius – 15/2
  6. Lord Jim – 11/1
  7. Knights Templar – 14/1
  8. Nag’s Head – 16/1

As you can see, the odds are reduced significantly once the favourite has been removed. This is exactly what you would expect given that the chances of your horse ‘winning’ have significantly increased now the favourite is not involved.

Betting Without Strategy and Tips

Expert TipsOne thing to consider when assessing the merits of the betting without market is whether you might simply be better to back your horse each way in the standard race winner market. This can be particularly worthwhile in National Hunt racing when even red-hot favourites sometimes fluff their lines and fall at a fence or unseat their rider.

In such a scenario, a horse that was priced at odds of 14/1 (for instance) who you fancied had a good chance of running in second behind the favourite, might be worth backing each way in the standard market rather than backing in the without favourite market.

Let’s take the example of Stradivarius above, with the horse priced at 14/1 in the race winner market and 15/2 in the without favourite market. If you place a £20 bet on Stradivarius in the without favourite market and he either wins the race or comes second to the favourite, the payout would be £170, that is the £150 net win plus the £20 stake.

If instead you placed a £10 each way bet at odds of 14/1 that would also require a stake of £20. If the each way terms were a fifth of the odds for a top three finish and Stradivarius finished second (behind the favourite in this case), the bettor would be paid out £38, that is equivalent to a £10 bet at a fifth of 14/1 (i.e. odds of 14/5), including the return of the each way part of the stake.

If, however, the favourite fluffed his lines and either fell or simply under-performed, and Stradivarius romped to victory, the payout would be £188; that is £150 for the win part of the bet and £38 for the each way part, both including the original stakes.

For some people, the difference in potential net wins makes it a risk worth taking in such a scenario, but those who are a little more risk averse might prefer to opt for the without favourite market, which effectively gives two bites at the cherry to win the bet: either by winning the race outright or by finishing second to the favourite.

As always with horse racing betting, it is a matter of doing your research and trying to ascertain when a second favourite (or another runner in a given field) is overpriced. In this situation you could find a decent chunk of value in the without favourite market when you assess your runner to have a strong chance of either beating everyone or, at the worst, losing to the specific horse excluded from the bet.

Alternative Bets

Horse Race WinnerOf course, there are other similar options available to punters in this scenario, aside from the without market or an each way play. You could back your fancy just in the “to place” market for example.

This is very similar to the “without” option but at shorter odds because you would get a payout if the horse finishes anywhere in the top two, three, or four (depending on the terms of the race). In addition, your bet will also be a winner if an alternative horse beats your pick, not just the sole named “without” option.

Another very similar bet is to plump for a forecast, with the favourite to win and your pick coming second, or play things a little safer with a reverse forecast (the two horses to come first and second in either order). These days some bookies even offer the chance to back a horse for a top two or top three finish or indeed even to specifically finish second or third (or sometimes fourth too in contests with bigger fields).

All of these bets are very slightly different and so the odds too will fluctuate a little between them. Which is the best option will depend on how you see the race panning out and your approach to risk and reward. None the less, “without” betting is a great market to be aware of and is just perfect when you feel there is only one specific horse likely to get the better of your own pick.