The number of betting markets for horse racing is quite limited, but two of the more popular are that of forecast and tricast betting. These are pretty stable bets in that they are offered by a wide range of bookmakers.
They are the type of combination bets that can offer a big reward for very little outlay. They can be grouped in the same category as accumulator bets, and that means they can often be bets where potentially life changing sums of money are won.
The two bets are quite similar in how they work, although there are variations of each:
A forecast bet is where you need to choose a horse to come in 1st and a horse to come in 2nd. For this bet to win you need the horses to finish in the order that you predicted.
A tricast bet is an extension of this, but instead of choosing 2 horses in the right order, you instead need to pick three. The bet may seem very similar and in practice it is, but it is statistically a lot harder to predict a tricast winner than it is a forecast winner.
There are a couple of variations for each of these markets that are just as popular. They are:
- Reverse forecast – This is where the you need to choose two horses to finish in 1st or 2nd as before, but you don’t need to get the order correct.
- Combination forecast – This market is where you are able to choose from three horses to finish either 1st or 2nd. It’s rapidly increasing in popularity with a lot of bookmakers given that it offers more options, but the odds are still favourable.
- Combination tricast – This is similar to the combination forecast bet in that you can choose as many horses as you like to finish in 1st, 2nd and 3rd. The more selections that you choose the higher the cost of your bet though, since you bet per line and per combination. For example, choosing 5 horses would make 60 bets, so at £10 per combination your overall stake would be £600.
How the odds are calculated
One of the most common misconceptions about these bets are how the odds are worked out. Many people think they work like an accumulator, where you would simply multiply each price by the one before to get your total. However, this is not the case.
The reality is that you won’t ever know the price for either a forecast or a tricast before placing your bet. The bookmakers use a complicated algorithm that is worked out by a computer. It takes into account the horses that are running, the odds, the opposition on the field, and many other factors.
Don’t be alarmed though, the numbers aren’t just made up willy nilly, they are cross-checked by independent bodies such as the Press Association and the Satellite Information Service to make sure everything is in order. As a general rule, you can apply the idea that the bigger the starting price for the horses that you choose, the bigger the return on any of these combination markets will be.
Once all the bets are in, a dividend is created for your bet which is usually released just a few minutes after that race has finished. It will highlight the amount of money that you will get back per 1 unit of currency that was staked. So, if the dividend for a forecast was £24.56 and you staked £10, you would get £245.60 back, because 24.56 x 10 = 245.60.
Your bookmaker will publish the price for both the forecast and tricast results on their website. You can usually find them on the results race card, just like the one above from BetVictor. As you can see, the forecast for this particular race would pay out £206.63, and the Tricast a massive £1,176.35 for every £1 staked. The reason both are so high is because there was a 25/1 winner and even the runner up of 8/1 is relatively high price.
These are pretty unique bets so before we dive too much into any strategy, we want to point out that they can be very tough to call.
As you can see from the example above, payouts can be huge if you hit it right, but a lot more work needs to go into choosing these results than simply backing the winner or an each way bet.
Here are a few tips and strategies you can employ when choosing your bets to give you a bit of an edge over most recreational punters.
Keep it simple, take on the favourites
The example that we posted above possibly isn’t the best for what we are about to say, but we do think that the best long-term strategy for these types of bets is to keep it simple and target the favourites for the race.
We are ideally looking for big discrepancies in terms of the price for the favourites and the price for the rest of the field. Obviously, how many horses you need on either side of the gap will depend on whether it’s a forecast or a tricast bet, but to keep it simple, a forecast where two horses are miles ahead of the others is a good start.
The above is a great example of what we are looking for. We have two horses in Heritage and Vandella that are head and shoulders above the rest of the field. It’s only a small race as well, which makes it that little bit easier to call.
Given that the odds for each horse are fairly short we aren’t talking about life changing odds here, but they will still be plentiful, and it looks like we are literally just betting between the two of them given the price of the rest of the field.
Utilise with handicap races
Professional bettors will target handicap races religiously. By doing this, they are basically stating that they are able to handicap better than the handicapping committee, or they are able to pick out faults in a horse’s ratings and handicaps and will exploit this by betting for or against them.
What usually happens is that professional bettors have a virtual stable of horses that they are keen on and have heavily researched. They will follow them about and see what sort of ratings are given to them for handicap races.
The golden scenario is that two or more of your stable end up in the same race. If this is the case, then it could be a great spot for a forecast or even a tricast if there are 3 or more. You often find that pro bettors will take on the reverse forecast given that both horses are likely to be good, so it may be hard to split one from the other. Either way, this is a strategy that a lot of pro handicap bettors take on with great success.
Drastic changes to the going (ground)
Ground condition in horse racing is huge. Certain horses prefer certain types of ground, and if they are on unsuited ground then you can almost rule them out straight away.
What’s great about scenarios where the ground conditions change quickly is that horses are likely going to be entered into that race regardless, especially if it comes to the day of the race, if only to see how they perform.
This means that the field size of potential winners can reduce massively. In fact, it can mean you get into spots where only 2 or 3 horses are proven over that ground, with the rest of the field something of unknown quantity.
When this happens, the odds for those unknown horses can be huge and this means that dividends for forecast and tricast bets will be huge as well, assuming they come in of course.
In flat racing the draw is a huge part of the race, especially given that they are often over much shorter distances than that of jump races. At pretty much all racecourses there is usually a side of the ground that is slightly quicker, and therefore the horses that start on that side of the track have an advantage.
By betting at tracks with a huge draw bias to them, you can almost dismiss a huge number of the field. This might take a 10-runner race down to just 3 or 4 horses that can realistically win based on the draw alone. When you are able to massively reduce the field like this, the forecast and tricast bets really start to come into their own.
Best odds guaranteed
This is a promotion that most of the bigger bookies run which basically means that if you back a horse and the starting price is higher than the price that you took, they will pay out at the larger starting price.
These can be applied to forecast and tricast bets as well. They can make a huge difference in the dividend for each race, so make sure that you target bookmakers that are offering this promotion.
They won’t be hard to find, it’s almost expected these days.