Horse Racing Betting Ireland 2024

Horse Racing has always been a staple culture in different places across the globe, especially in Ireland. It is one of the most popular sports in Ireland that attracts millions of spectators every year. In fact, betting on horseracing at racecourses is a long-old tradition and practically part of the experience of this sport in Ireland. 


In this guide, our betting experts at IrishLuck have provided some important details about the sport itself and how to bet on it at the top sports betting sites. We explained all the different forms of horse racing in Ireland, the different types of bets you can make, and also offered some advice on what to look out for when picking winners.

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This page is written by
Siobhan Aslett
Siobhan AslettIrish Sportsbook Specialist
Fact checked by
Rebecca Mackay
Rebecca MackayHead of Content
According to our Editorial Guide

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It used to be that the only way you could place bets on horse racing was by going to the racecourse and wagering on your favourite racecourse. However, the situation is not the same today. There are now hundreds of betting sites providing horserace betting services for individuals who cannot or don't want to go all the way to racecourses. As such, you can place bets on horse racing on sites like Betfair, Paddy Power, and hundreds of other Irish betting sites. Our team of betting experts has provided a list of some of the best options above.

horse racing betting

Types of Horse Racing in Ireland

Before talking about horserace betting, every Irish punter must understand how the sport works and the different types of horse racing in Ireland. Our team of betting experts at Irishluck has taken the time to research the Irish horse racing scene extensively, and the content below explains the different types of horse races in Ireland.

Flat Races

There are no jumps in flat races, and the horses run between 5 and 20 furlongs. The starting point for the horses in this race is usually from the stall. 

It is also noteworthy to mention that the flat racing season in Ireland starts in mid-April and ends in mid-November. Highlighted below are the popular types of flat races in Ireland:

  • The Flat Maiden Races: The Flat Maiden Races are for horses who have never won a race before. It is usually confined to a particular age group. So, you may see a 2-year-old maiden race, a 3-year-old maiden race, and so on.

  • The Flat Handicap: The Flat Handicap race is designed to give all participating horses equal chances of winning. Each horse is assessed and rated based on its abilities relative to other horses in the race, and the horses that have better ability than the others in the race are weighed down/handicapped by carrying more weight. This way, all the horses will perform at an almost equal level, giving all horses an equal chance of winning.

  • The Conditions Race: The conditions race is confined to horses that have been winners of one or more races, races with a certain value, or even races from a certain date.

  • Listed/Pattern Race: Listed races attract a better class of horses and are for horses that are above the 90 mark on an ability weighting scale of 47 to 120.

  • Group 3 Race: The Group 3 race is a category slightly above the Listed Races, and it is for horses that are around the 100 mark on an ability weighting scale of 47 to 120.

  • Group 2 Race: The Group 2 race is above the Group 3 race and is generally for horses rated between the 100 and 115 marks of the ability weighing scale.

  • Group 1 Race: The Group 1 race, known as the most prestigious and highest class race, is above the Group 2 Race. It is the most popular class of horse racing in Ireland and beyond. There are 12 Group 1 races in Ireland, and 5 of these are called classic races, including the 2000 Guineas, the 1000 Guineas, the Derby, the Oaks, and St. Leger, all of which are held at the Curragh racecourse (the home of the classics).

National Hunt

The National Hunt race also called the Jump race, involves horses jumping over barriers (hurdles) while racing. Jump races are usually contested over a distance of at least two miles. Unlike the flat races, the jump races start from a taped barrier. The jump racing season in Ireland is all year round, but the main season starts in November and ends in April.

Chases/Steeplechases:

Chases, also popularly known as Steeplechase races, involve Jockeys racing each other while leaping over any obstacles in their path. This format of the Jump race often features the tallest fences, usually between 4 feet, 6 inches in height, and 3 feet, 4 inches wide. The most famous steeplechase race globally is the Grand National run at Aintree Racecourse in Liverpool, England. The Irish Grand National, which is also quite popular, is run every Easter at Fairyhouse racecourse at County Meath.

Hurdle Races:

The Hurdle race is another form of jump race. However, unlike the Steeplechase races, the Hurdle races are run over about three-and-a-half foot tall obstacles, which are also less sturdy. The race is also run over shorter grounds than Chases.

Point to Point

Point to Point race is the most natural form of racing where horses are raced in a rustic environment, not like your typical racecourses. In this race, the horses are raced across the country through designated farmlands over natural obstacles and sometimes uncharted grounds. It usually happens in the spring and autumn.

Bumper races:

The Bumper race is a type of race that involves flat racing under the rules of National Hunt Racing (Jump racing). This race is designed to give horses experience on the racecourse before making their debut and starting a career in the national hunts, and amateur Jockeys usually ride these horses. Bumpers are usually run over distances of about 13 to 20 furlongs.

Maiden Hurdles Races:

The Maiden Hurdle race is for horses that have never won a hurdle race or a Steeplechase.

Top 5 Horse Race Courses in Ireland

There are 26 racecourses in total in Ireland, and each of these racecourses comes with unique features. Listed in the table below is the preview of the horse racing scene in Ireland, as it contains the top 5 most known racecourses in the country:

RacecourseCountyAddressBiggest Races
Curragh Racecourse KildareNewbridge, Co. Kildare, R56 RR67, Irelandhome of all the Classics; the Irish Derby, Irish Oaks, Irish 2000 Guineas, Irish 1000 Guineas, and the St. Leger
Leopardstown Racecourse DublinLeopardstown Racecourse, Foxrock, Dublin 18, D18 C9V6, IrelandThe Irish Champion Stakes
Laytown Racecourse MeathStrand Rd, Ninch, Laytown, Co. Meath, IrelandLaytown Races
Punchestown Racecourse KildarePunchestown, Naas, Co. Kildare, IrelandIrish National Hunts Races
Ballybrit RacecourseGalwayBallybrit, Galway, H91 V654, IrelandGalway Festival

Upcoming Major Horse Racing Festivals in Ireland

There are five main races in the Irish horse racing calendar, and they include the Irish Derby, the Irish Champion Stakes, the Irish Oaks, the Irish 1,000 Guineas, and the Irish 2,000 Guineas. Some of the upcoming events and festivals in the Irish horse racing scene includes:

  • Dublin Racing Festival: February 3-4 2024

  • Fairyhouse Easter Festival: March 30-April 1 2024

  • Punchestown Festival: April 30-May 4 2024

  • Curragh Guineas Festival: May 24-May 26 2024

  • Curragh Derby Festival: June 28-30 2024

  • Curragh Oaks Festival: July 20-21 2024

  • Galway Festival: July 29-August 4 2024

  • Irish Champions Festival: September 14-15 2024

  • Listowel Harvest Festival: September 22-28 2024

  • Down Royal Festival: November 1-2 2024

  • Navan Racing Festival: November 16-17 2024

  • Punchestown Winter Festival: November 23-24 2024

  • Fairyhouse Winter Festival: November 30-December 1 2024

  • Leopardstown Christmas Festival: December 26-29 2024

Let's switch gears and talk about horse racing from a different angle – the environmental impact. While the races are very captivating, we often overlook the ecological footprint left behind. From the resources used to maintain tracks to the emissions generated by transportation, horse racing can take a toll on the environment. As fans of the sport, it's time we start considering sustainability measures to ensure that future generations can enjoy horse racing without harming the planet.

Horse Racing Betting Terms

Horse Racing terminology and lingo can sometimes be confusing, especially for newbies. This is why our team of experts at Irishluck has gathered some of the common horse racing betting terms that you may come across when you engage in horse racing betting.

The Racing Lingo

  • Amateur: refers to amateur jockeys, who mostly only ride bumper races.
  • Banker: is a slang word for a horse guaranteed to win a race.
  • Colt: refers to a male horse up to about four years old.
  • Filly: refers to a female horse up to about four years old.
  • Gelding: refers to a male horse that has been castrated.
  • Green: refers to an inexperienced horse.
  • Lead: refers to the additional weight put in a horse’s saddle to make up the handicap weight assigned.
  • Mare: refers to a female horse of about five years or more.

Betting Lingo

  • Price: refers to the odds offered by a bookmaker on a particular horse in a race.
  • Favourite: refers to the horse that starts a race with the shortest odds.
  • Fixed-odds: refers to betting where you get the odds advertised by the bookmaker at the time you place the bet, and there are no fluctuations on the payout.
  • SP: known as Starting Price, refers to the official odds of a horse starting a race.
  • Long Odds: refers to the odds displayed for the horses with low chances of winning a race.
  • Short Odds: refers to the odds displayed for the horses with high chances of winning a race.
  • Withdrawn Horse: refers to a horse that withdraws from a horse race for any reason.

How Horse Racing Betting Odds Work

When it comes to odds, Irish horse racing betting sites will offer you the American, Fractional, and Decimal odds formats, and you will have the option of choosing your preference.  The Fractional odds format is the most dominant format to express horserace betting prices in Ireland, and it usually displays prices as 9/2, 1/2, 1/1 (evens), 2/1, 100/1, and so on. This format expresses the profits the punters will make if they accurately predict the results of a horse race against their stake. 

For instance, a bettor puts down a €10 stake on a bet type with a 3/1 price. The potential profit, in this case, will be €30 (€10 x 3) while the total potential return will be €40 (the €30 profit plus the €10 returned wager). This means that for every €1 that the bettor wagers, he will receive a €3 profit if the prediction is accurate. The same principle goes for all the other odds. In theory, longer odds bring bigger payouts, while shorter odds bring smaller payouts.

The Each Way Bet

The each-way bet is one of the most common terminologies used in horse racing betting. It is a bet type comprising two parts, namely, the "win" bet and the "Place" bet. The win bet means that you expect the horse to come in first, while the place bet means you expect the horse to be placed (finish in position 1, 2, 3, 4, or even 5 in very big races or with some bookmakers). Both parts of the bet are of equal value, and the return you will see if your selection wins is, of course, more than you will see if it places less than the first position.

Straight Bets

Straight bets are the simplest forms of horse racing wagers and are often the most used bet type for newbies and even professional punters sometimes. These bets require less experience, fewer skills, fewer risks and are generally much easier to secure winnings from.

  • The Win Bet: The Win bet is placed when you expect a horse to finish first in a race. If the horse finishes in the first position, the bet is a winner, and if not, the bet loses.

  • The Place Bet: Unlike the win bet, the place bet is not rigid. The place bet is what a punter places when they expect their selection to finish first or second. With this type of bet, you will only see a return if your selected horse finishes in any of these two positions. It is noteworthy to mention that cash-out prices with this type of bet are generally lower than that of a winning bet.

  • The Show Bet: A show bet is what you will place when you expect your horse to finish in one of the top three positions (1st, 2nd, or 3rd position). Naturally, since the winning chances of this bet are quite high, the cashout price is lower than the previous two we explained.

  • Across the Board: An Across the Board wager combines the win, the place, and the show bet types. Here, if your selection finishes first, you collect on the win, place, and show. If it finishes second, you will collect on the place and show, but not the win. And if it places third, you will only collect on the show bet.

Exotic Wagers

Exotic wagers are bets that combine multiple selections into a single bet. Unlike Straight bets, this bet type is not straightforward and often requires a professional and more strategic approach. Since it combines more than one bet, exotic wagers usually require more money than other bet forms. However, a player's return from this type of bet is also often quite sizable.

  • The Forecast Bet: The forecast bet involves placing bets on horses to finish in the first and second positions in exact order. Naturally, you will only receive payouts if your chosen selections finish in the exact correct order you predicted.

  • The Reverse Forecast Bet: also known as combination forecast, also follows the same principle as the forecast bet of making selections on horses to finish in the first and second position. However, unlike the forecast bet, the horses can finish in any order, first or second.

  • The Tricast Bet - A tricast bet, also often referred to as a trifecta, is where a punter places a bet on three horses to finish in first, second, and third in exact order. This means that ABC must come in as ABC and not any other order.

  • The Reverse Tricast Bet: The reverse tricast bet, often referred to as a combination tricast, is a variation of the tricast bet. It involves the same principle of making selections on horses that will finish in the first, second, and third positions. However, unlike the tricast bet, the placement of the horses can be in any order. This means that if the horses come in as ABC, ACB, BAC, BCA, CAB, or even CBA, you win.

  • The First Four/Superfecta Bet: The first four or Superfecta bet is like the forecast and tricast bets. It involves making wagers on horses to finish in the first, second, third, and fourth positions in exact order.

  • Reverse Superfecta: Like the Superfecta bet, the reverse Superfecta bets involve making predictions on four horses to finish in first, second, third, and fourth positions. But with this bet, it doesn't matter which order the horses finish in, as long as the four selections occupy the four positions.

Tote Betting

Tote betting differs from traditional bets placed at online horse racing betting online sites. Typically, a betting site will calculate the probability of each competitor winning a race and then offer odds prices that complement that. However, with tote betting, there is no automatic odds calculation. Instead, a tote bet will place you in a betting pool with other punters, and the total wager in the pot is combined and shared amongst the winners. As such, the odds and resulting payouts are determined by the number of punters in the pool and the total amount collected.

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What to Look out for When Betting on Horse Races

Like most sports, you can't always tell the outcome of horse races until after the round. However, there are some factors that most horse racing enthusiasts consider before placing a bet to back any horse. These factors often act as tips that help experienced punters to pick a winner from a couple of horses in a race. Our team of betting experts at Irishluck has done detailed research on this area, so in this guide, we will cover some of the things you should be looking out for whenever you place a bet on a horse during a race.

  1. Consistency: Before betting on any horse, one of the first things our IrishLuck betting experts suggest you look up is the horse's previous race results. Looking up this information will allow you to know relevant details about the horse, like its winning track record and its performance in previous races. Does the horse normally place quite high in position, or does the horse's placing in the event fluctuate? Irish tipsters and punters often use this information to predict the horse's performance in future races.

  2. Present Form: Another vital thing that you need to consider before wagering on any horse race is the present form of the horses. You need to look up the horse's fitness level and whether the horse has had any recent injuries.

  3. Age: Another vital thing that Irish punters and any tipster consider when predicting the results of a horseracing event is the age of the horses in question. Generally, the ideal age that a horse would be in the best form is between the age of seven and ten. Therefore, the older a horse is away from this threshold, the less likely it will win over the ones in the best form. However, older horses still in good form can still manage to achieve victory.

  4. Trainer: There is a popular saying that "a teacher is only as good as his student," which is the same for horse race training. Top-rated trainers who take care of their horses well and train them with regular exercise plans will naturally produce top-quality horses that will achieve victories in races. So, another thing that our Irish Luck experts suggest for you to look out for when you are placing bets on horse races is the horses' trainers. Who is the trainer? Have they had much success previously?

  5. Jockey: For horse racing that involves jockeys, it is important to consider the jockeys alongside the horse because it combines the skills, endurance, power, and ability of both the horse and the jockey riding the horse that will determine the outcome of any event. So, Irish punters need to consider the experience level of the jockey and whether or not the jockey can handle their horses well.

  6. Distance: Horse racing events vary in distances, and most horses have a limit to how far they can go before their stamina starts to give out. So another obvious factor that you need to consider in horse racing betting is the distance covered. So, you need to consider whether your choice stands a chance of winning based on stamina and the distance that it will have to cover.

Horse Racing Betting Tips

Like any other form of gambling, betting on horses is a game of chances and probabilities. So, aside from what we explained on what you should look out for whenever you want to place bets on horse races, our betting experts at IrishLuck have prepared a few horse racing betting tips that we believe will prove useful for you when engaging in horse racing betting online. Of course, these tips don’t guarantee anything, but they will significantly improve any punter’s chances of winning.

  1. If you are a newbie, learn about the sport and the rules involved in all the races and know all the horse racing betting terms.

  2. Research on all the horses that are champions of the previous racing seasons.

  3. Keep an eye out for the latest news in horse racing.

  4. Find the site that offers the best odds.

  5. Be aware of the horse/jockey injury.

  6. Conduct several bets to minimize loss or at least get back a return percentage of the wager.

How Did We Find Horse Racing Betting Sites For You?

As mentioned earlier, hundreds of horse racing betting sites are available online today, offering horse racing betting services to players in Ireland and beyond. However, some sites are better than others, and it is important to only play at the best option to have a top-quality betting experience. So, how do you find the best possible horse racing betting sites to play at? Our team of betting experts at IrishLuck have gone to great lengths to research what you need to look out for when choosing a betting site for horserace betting. 

The list below highlights the things we have considered:

  • Find the platforms that offer the best odds, or at the very least, competitive odds.

  • Find the platform that has a wide race coverage, including the events like Cheltenham Festival, Royal Ascot, the Dubai World Cup, etc., alongside loads of lesser-known races.

  • Find the horse racing betting online site that offers different horse race bet types.

  • Find the platform that offers live streaming services alongside live betting.

  • Find the platform with the best bonuses and promotional offers.

Closing Thoughts

Betting on horse races through online betting sites and horse racing betting apps is a thrilling experience. This guide thoroughly explains what you need to know about horse races and horse racing betting. Even if you cannot visit the Curragh racecourse to see the classics, you can still have fun placing bets on horse races right from the comfort of your homes. That being said, while you are having fun, gamble responsibly and keep an eye on your bankroll.

Horse Racing Betting FAQs

Is horse race betting legal in Ireland?

Yes, horse racing is a culture deeply rooted in the traditions of Irish people, which is why it is not surprising that horserace betting is legal in Ireland. 

You can bet on races at racecourses or online at horse racing betting sites.

Is horse race betting profitable?

Horserace betting can be profitable, especially for horserace betting enthusiasts who know the market well. 

However, it is noteworthy to mention that horserace betting is an activity that should be done for fun and not for profit.

How to understand horse racing betting?

To understand what horse racing betting is about, you need to learn the rules, different races, and bet types. 

The first step towards achieving this is by going through the guide above, as it explains what you need to know about horserace betting.

Can horse racing be cancelled due to rain?

Yes. On rare occasions when a turf track is too wet or deemed untraceable, then a horse racing event will be cancelled to protect the horses.

How does horse race betting work?

Putting it simply, horserace betting involves predicting the possible outcome of a horse race and placing wagers on your predictions.

How to read horse racing payouts?

Like most sports betting, payouts in horse racing are determined by the odds of the event wagered on and the amount staked on the bet.

What type of horse racing bets are there?

There are different types of horse racing bets, but the most popular options you will find online include two-way bets, straight bets (win, place, show, across the board), and exotic wagers (forecast, reverse forecast, trifecta, reverse trifecta, superfecta, reverse trifecta, etc.).

Can I bet on every horse in a race?

As long as they are all available to be wagered on, you can place bets on every horse in a game. 

However, we should mention that this option is not always practical or worthwhile as the stake is almost always more than the possible return.

What is In-Play horserace betting?

In-play horserace betting involves betting on horseracing as it is ongoing. It allows punters to make their predictions of the results of races based on what they are seeing in the race at that exact moment.

Do all horse racing betting sites offer live streaming services?

Sadly, no. While horse racing live streaming services are available on many Irish sports betting sites, not all sites provide them.

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Sportsbook Expert
author image for siobhan aslett irishluck's sportsbetting expert and writer
Siobhan Aslett

Irish Sportsbook Specialist

Sports & sportsbook expert of 8 years. Specialising in a subject close to her heart, sports, Siobhan informs online sports betting fans about the latest news & best sports betting sites.

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