How to place a bet

12 Oct 2023
Auckland Thoroughbred Racing

While placing a bet isn’t an essential part of a raceday, it can certainly add to the thrill! If you have never placed a bet before or aren’t 100% of what to do, below are some basics to get you started.

First things first, all bets are placed in $1 multiples (i.e. you cannot ask to place $1.50 on a horse to win)

Bets on raceday are placed at a ‘Tote’ – there are plenty of these located throughout the course and, while they can’t provide you with a tip, their operators will help talk you through placing a bet if you’re unsure.

What’s a dividend?

This is amount a horse is paying to win or get a place (1st, 2nd and 3rd). Dividends are displayed on TV screens all around the racecourse. The first amount you see is what the horse is paying for a win and the second is its price should it place.

The horse whose dividends are flashing is the race favourite which means it is the horse the majority of punters think will win. Interestingly enough, favourites win about 30% of the time.

What are some of the more basic bet types?


What to say: “$X for a win on horse number X”

  • You receive the win dividend if your chosen horse should bolt in
  • For example, if you put $1 on a horse paying $5 to win and it comes in first you’ll receive $5. Put $2 on that same horse and you would win $10


What to say: “$X for a place on horse number X”

  • You receive the place dividend if your horse comes first, second or third
  • For example, if you put $1 on a horse paying $8 to place and it comes in first, second or third, you’ll receive $8. Put $3 on that same horse and you would win $24


What to say: “$X each way on horse number X”

  • Otherwise known as ‘hedging your bet’, this is a combination of a win and a place bet. If your horse wins, you walk away with both the win and place dividend, and if your horse comes second or third, you will collect the place dividend
  • Asking for a $1 each way bet will cost you a total of $2 and means you have placed $1 for a win and $1 for a place


What to say: “A $X quinella on horse numbers X and Y”

  • Feeling lucky? Just pick two horses to come first or second in any order and you will receive the quinella dividend. You won’t know what the quinella will pay until the race is run, as it depends on the odds of the two horses.
  • You can also pick more than two horses for a quinella bet (it will just cost a little more)


What to say: “A $X trifecta with horse number X for first, Y for second and Z for third”

  • Pick three horses in the order you think they will romp home (for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place) and you will receive this dividend.
  • It’s risky but if successful, you are set to make a good return

What to say: “A box trifecta on horses X, Y and Z”

  • Costs a bit more than a trifecta, but could be easier to win – just pick three horses and if they are the first three place getters (in any order) you’re a winner
  • You can always pick more than three horses, it will just cost you a little more


What to say: “A percentage bet, I would like to pay $X for a (trifecta) on horse numbers X, Y, Z” (you can pick as many horses as you like)

  • With percentage betting, you pay a percentage of the price it costs to place a trifecta, in return for collecting a percentage of the winnings
  • The minimum percentage bet you can place is $5 and the minimum bet value of each combination is five cents


What to say: “An easy bet trifecta / quinella / win / place”

If you’re having trouble deciding which horses to pick, this is the bet for you. The tote operator will issue you with a ticket after the computer has decided which horse to pick for you.

Want to learn more?

There are plenty of other bet types you can place. Check out, your racebook or ask a friendly tote operator when you are next at Ellerslie!

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