Ante-Post betting often catches many people out when betting on horse racing. They bet on a race a day or more in advance only to find their horse didn’t run and they lost their stake. This is one of the major drawbacks of ante-post betting, but at the same time there are many pros, such as better odds – it’s all about risk vs reward.
Major racing, like the Cheltenham Festival and Grand National, can provide an opportunity to bet ante-post without as many risks as usual. Many bookies offering non-runner no bet and even best odds guaranteed. Why not place all of your bet early therefore? Well odds can increase just as easily as decrease and there are other considerations such as generally better place terms when betting on the day.
In this article we will explain what ante-post bets are, how you place them, what the point is and anything else you might want to consider before getting involved in the ante-post market. One thing to note here is that you can place ante-post bets on pretty much any sports market, but for the purposes of ease we’re going to look exclusively at horse racing.
What Is An Ante-Post Bet?
There’s sometimes a delicate balance when it comes to knowledge of a particular subject matter. You can get to a point where you know enough about a topic to mean that certain words and phrases have become second nature, even though you’re not one-hundred percent sure you know exactly what they mean. One such phrase is ‘ante-post betting’, which you’ll have seen used countless times if you’ve ever looked at a betting website such as this one but may not know precisely what it’s in reference to.
Despite its name making it seem like a slightly confusing way of betting, ante-post bets aren’t actually that complicated a thing to get your head around. If you’ve ever placed a bet well in advance of the event you’re betting on then you’ll almost certainly have placed an ante-post wager. Say you’ve bet on the winner on the World Cup, for example, or the team that will lift the Premier League trophy before a match has even gotten underway, that’s an ante-post bet.
It is, to put it simply, a wager made a decent amount of time before the event has started. As we’ll explain in more detail shortly, that offers a degree of risk versus reward for punters. That’s because a straight ante-post bet may well offer longer odds than if you wait until closer to the event’s starting time, but if the selection that you bet on doesn’t take part in the event for some reason then you’ll lose your stake (as standard). There are offers that mitigate this possibility, as we’ll tell you about later, but generally it’s the risk of losing your money against the reward of longer odds for your bet.
Early Prices are announced at 9-10am on the morning of a horse race. That’s the point any which any automatic Non-Runner, No Bet rule kicks in and if your chosen horse doesn’t run in the race for any reason then your bet will be declared void and you’ll get your stake back. It’s also the time when offers like Best Odds Guaranteed become applicable, meaning that if you place a bet and the Starting Price is higher than the odds were bet on then you’ll be paid out at the higher price. Neither of these things applies as standard to ante-post bets, placed before that 9 or 10am cut-off point. On the flip side, ante-post bets aren’t subject to rule 4 deductions.
How To Place an Ante-Post Bet?
The principle involved in placing an ante-post bet is identical to placing any other sort of bet. You find the event you’re interested in, select the odds and then enter your stake. The difference is in where you’ll find these sorts of bets on the site of the bookmaker that you use.
One of the quickest ways of placing an ante-post bet is simply to search for the event that you’re hoping to have a wager on. Let’s say it’s the middle of October, you know that the Grand National isn’t running for the best part of six months. Search for the race using the website’s search function and then find the horse you want to bet on – easy.
Most of the biggest bookmakers also have a section within the horse racing part of their website that’s labelled something along the lines of ‘Future Racing’ or ‘Upcoming Races’. Click on that and you’ll see a list of all of the races that you’ll be able to have a flutter on. This is obviously the best method if you’re not sure what race it is that you’re hoping to bet on.
Bookmakers aren’t actually the faceless organisations that we might imagine them to be. Most have decent social media account such as Twitter, whilst virtually all of them have call centres or email addresses that you can contact them on. If you’ve used the search function and looked for a ‘Future Racing’ section and can’t find either then just get in touch with them and ask for odds on the race you want to bet on. One thing to bear in mind is that the biggest bookies will always have more in the way of ante-post options than smaller ones.
Ante-Post Betting Is About Risk Versus Reward
The further away an event is due to take place, the more difficult it is to predict said event’s outcome. When it comes to horse racing, there are any number of factors that can change the more that an event draws near. How much training the horse has been able to do, for example, or whether they’ve won a number of events in the build-up to the one that you’re looking at betting on.
When it comes to the Cheltenham Festival, certain jockeys have had more success than others in different races. Ruby Walsh is the most successful jockey of all time at Cheltenham, so if he was due to ride on a horse in a race then the price of that horse will naturally come down. If you can get a bet on before the knowledge of who will be the rider is released and it ends up being Ruby Walsh then the odds ypu get are likely to be longer.
If you’re thinking about betting on the favourite for a race then doing so well in advance of that race getting underway will almost certainly provide you with longer odds than if you wait until the day of the race. Part of the risk is that you might be wrong and the Starting Price odds end up being longer than the odds that you took months before. If you’ve seen something in a horse that you don’t think other people have noticed, though, then getting your bet in before everyone else starts to get involved in the betting will definitely be a good thing.
Another part of the risk of betting ante-post is that owners and trainers aren’t always sure which race they’re going to enter their horse into. They might well put them forward for several races in the build-up to a meeting, but decide when it gets nearer the time that the horse is likely to perform best or learn more by being entered into a different event. If that happens and you placed a hefty ante-post bet on them for a race they ended up not entering then you’ll lose your stake. If, on the other hand, they do enter the race you bet on and win then you’ll be rewarded for your brave betting with a payout on higher odds than if you’d have waited.
Of course the main risk with an ante-post bet is that you horse fails to run through injury, or perhaps even by failing to qualify. In most ant-post markets you will not get your stake back if this happens, but you usually will if betting on the day of a race. Big races like at Cheltenham however can be an exception, read on.
Ante-Post and Non-Runner No Bet Offers
One way to mitigate your risk is to wait until bookmakers decide to apply the Non-Runner, No Bet rule. As mentioned before, this is normally reserved until the day of the race. Yet when it comes to some of the bigger races and race meetings, when bookies know that customers who don’t usually bet much are likely to get involved, they’ll introduce the offer earlier than usual. The Cheltenham Festival is a good example of when this tends to happen.
In January, around 10-12 weeks before the festival, some bigger bookies allow the Non-Runner, No Bet rule to apply to any ante-post bets placed on all races at Cheltenham Festival. That means punters can place ante-post bets safe in the knowledge that if the horse ended up not running in the event (therefore being a Non-Runner) then the bet wouldn’t count (No Bet) and they would get their stake money back. In that instance the odds obviously slipped into the favour of the bettor, who could take much less of a risk for far more of a reward.
When To Bet Ante-Post
Flat racing tends to lend itself to ante-post betting more than jump racing for the simple reason that horses are successful at a much younger age. That means that a two-year-old earning itself a good reputation might well have won some of the biggest races by the time it’s three. Races like the 1000 or 2000 Guineas often have excellent ante-post markets on them, giving you a chance to turn a decent profit.
Jump race horses can often be found at very good odds ante-post, often more so than flat racers, but then they are more liable to get injured through jumping fences or running the longer distances. It is all about balancing the better prices with the higher risks.
You could hear about an exciting young horse that someone thinks will do well in the upcoming season’s Classics and find yourself an ante-post bet of something outrageous like 20/1. Then, when it gets to the day of the race, you see the same horse go off at 2/1 and win, knowing that you’ve done very well for yourself. On the other hand, the horse might not develop as well as expected and your stake money disappears with their chances of becoming the next big thing.
The best time to place an ante-post bet is after you’ve seen a horse’s development but before everyone else knows how good it is. That’s why it’s always helpful to keep your eye out on smaller races in less fancied circuits, because the more casual punter is unlikely to be paying that much attention. It’s a delicate balance, of course and it’s certainly harder when it comes to National Hunt races. The season proper is felt to start with the November Meeting, which was previously known as the Cheltenham Open. You really need to have identified the horses you think will be a success for the upcoming season before then, if you’re hoping to beat the market to punch.
Should You Cash Out Ante-Post Bets?
If you’ve placed your ante-post wager with a big, reliable bookmaker than there’s a real chance that they’ll let you Cash Out your bet in between the time that you placed it and the start of the race of that you’ve bet on. Whether you should take them up on that offer is a matter of choice, though how the horse that you’ve bet on performs in the season building up to the race that you’ve got your bet on for will likely dictate events.
Let’s say you watched the Cheltenham Gold Cup and were really impressed by the performance of a horse that finished seventh or eighth. It’s a young horse and it was running at the Festival for the first time, but you liked their form and felt like they really showed some promise in the big race. You log onto your account with one of the big online bookmakers and decide to place a £100 bet on it at odds of 3/1.
Your chosen horse wins its first race after the Gold Cup. You keep following its development and are delighted to see it keeps winning, regardless of the race and regardless of the other well-fancied horses it’s up against. You look at your Cash Out option and see that your bookie is offering you £150 and that the horse’s odds for the Gold Cup have come in to 3/2. You ignore the offer and it wins its next race, so now your Cash Out offer is £250. You can make a £150 profit on the bet despite the fact that the race is still months away. That’s when you might want to think twice about letting it ride!
There are so many variables that can affect a horse’s ability to win a race that ante-post betting is naturally a risky market to get involved in. Most of the things are ones that you can have absolutely no control and not even see coming, such as the owner of a horse having a falling out with the trainer they’ve been using all season and deciding to switch to another trainer that the horse doesn’t get on with quite as well.
There might also be a tempting offer from another trainer and owner to the jockey that has been riding the horse all season and a less experienced rider comes in to replace them. Both of those factors are probably less important than one of the least controllable aspects of all – the weather. Your horse might favour heavy conditions, only or the month before the race you’ve bet on to witness unseasonable weather and suddenly your selection doesn’t look anywhere near as impressive.
The final thing worth mentioning is that an ante-post bet may be on an event that’s taking place in the future, but the money leaves your account there and then. If you’re operating on a budget, can you afford to see a chunk of it going off to a bookie half-a-year or more before it will actually come in to play? It might sound silly, but the best bettors control their budget tightly and will need to bear this in mind before placing an long-term bet.