Horses racing past a flower bed at Royal Randwick Sydney

Up the stakes this Autumn Racing Carnival with our tips for making a bet

No idea what the difference between a long or short odd is? Mounting Yard and Racing Expert for Sky Channel, Lizzie Jelfs, gives you the low down on placing a bet at The Star Championships during Autumn Racing Carnival.

Racing horses seen from ground level at Royal Randwick, Sydney
Horses thunder past on the stands at The Star Championships.

Whether you’re attending The Star Championship race days this year on the Royal Randwick or barracking from afar, Lizzie suggests immersing yourself in the whole experience to really enjoy the ride.

“First of all, grab yourself a form guide,” says Lizzie. “There’s a list of the horses’ names, there will be the list of the trainers, and the list of the jockeys.” If you’re there on the day, Lizzie suggests going down to the mounting yard to watch the horses move. “Then I’d pick out a horse from there. That would be how I would enjoy the day of racing,” says the seasoned horse racing expert and Sky Channel presenter.

If you’re reading this, it’s likely you’re not attending horse races every week or diligently looking up race results. Here’s where Lizzie and the team of horse racing experts can assist in identifying certain criteria to look for when placing a bet.

“You have some simple rules,” says Lizzie. “A lot of people will look at the form guide and have a look at the race. On the form guide there’s a listing of posts, how fast the horse is or where they should position in the rank.” Some seasoned betters will make their decision based on where the horse is positioned – i.e. what barrier they’ve drawn – and the price of the odds for particular horses. Lizzie also suggests following a team or particular horse trainer – especially if that trainer has a large team of horses to choose from. This will make the whole experience more interesting, a little like barracking for your favourite football team.

Depending on where you live Racing New South Wales, Racing Queensland and Racing Victoria are great resources for learning more about a horse, jockey, trainer or stable – and keeping tabs on how they’re doing during the racing season. “You can see all their replays and some of the race meetings,” suggests Lizzie.

“You can look up a horse’s name and start following it that way. I think that’s a really interesting way to get involved, because you’re starting to educate yourself. It takes a long time to be an expert, but if you start educating yourself you can really learn a lot about how things are done in racing and how there is so much more than just going to the races.”

People and horses in the mounting yard at Royal Randwick horse track
Royal Randwick’s iconic Theatre of the Horse during The Star Championship Races.

The long and short [odds] of it

Whether you’re placing a serious bet or throwing some cash on a horse for a bit of fun, it pays to understand the odds against what you’re backing.

“If you’re betting on horses with short odds, they’re probably more likely to win, that’s why they’re those odds. But your return is not as big,” says Lizzie.

For rookie punters, Lizzie suggests tying in a few bets into a quinella or box trifecta. “Sometimes I like to take a horse with shorter odds and a horse with longer odds and put them together in a quinella,” says Lizzie. “Sometimes I like to put them in a trifecta as well, so then you can box them up, which means they can come in any order. I think that’s a nice way to get into racing – the quinellas and the trifectas.”

Common racing terms decoded

Horses round the track at Royal Randwick during The Star Championships.

Form guide: a resource containing most of the information you’ll need to back a horse. It will include the age of a horse, its pedigree, career statistics and performance history.

Group one: horses at the pinnacle of racing. The benchmarks of horse racing begin at group three (after winning their ‘maiden race’ horses are rated) and go up to group one – e.g. the Melbourne Cup includes group one horses exclusively.

Quinella: a bet in which you nominate two horses to place first and second in any order.

Trifecta: a bet in which you nominate three horses that will come in first, second and third – in the order you have chosen.

Boxed trifecta: a bet in which you nominate three horses to come in first, second and third in any order.

Long odds: means the horse is less likely to win based on information from prior races, the jockey riding them and track conditions. The information in the form guide will help you understand the odds – but it doesn’t take into account how the horse is performing on the day, so, they could surprise you.

Short odds: horses with short odds are statistically more likely to win based on previous race performance and other factors listed in the form guide. Betting on a horse with short odds is generally a safe bet but will not pay as big if it wins.

Bet with your head, not over it. Think! About your choices. Call Gambling Help 1800 700 700 Guests must be aged 18 years or over to enter the casino.

All images courtesy of Destination NSW.