Let’s face it horse racing is unpredictable at the best of times with even the favourites winning only around 30-40% of races (format depending), this says it all really. The uncertainty in racing is reflected in the odds, which tend to be more attractive compared to other sports like football and this is one reason we love to have a flutter on the nags.
Even if you think you are onto a sure-fire winner all it takes is a stumble or poor start to change the whole dynamic of a horse race. This is especially true over jumps, which tend to be longer distance, have obstacles and often bigger fields of runners. We’ve all been there where your horse is running out in front only to tire at the end and end up being beaten on the line, heartbreaking.
Bookmakers know this however and with all of them now providing racing markets, streaming, best odds guarantees, etc., they use money back offers, often as a loss-leader, to entice you to bet with them. If you use these offers wisely then over time you can get more value from your wagers. Most offers give money back if you are second, sometimes 3rd or 4th too and on occasion if you lose. Most give you another go with a free bet but for the big meetings, like the Cheltenham Festival, you can often get money back in cash. Below we list the feature deals from the UK’s top bookies for the festival, other Cheltenham meetings and horse racing in general (both jump and flat).
Money Back Offer For Cheltenham & Horse Racing
Why Are Money Back Offers For Racing Common?
Horse racing is a safer sport for betting companies to provide insurance offers for as there are big fields of runners with far more variability and environmental factors that come into play compared to other sports. Therefore, if a bookie is say providing money back second on a 15 runner race, for example, it is not really going to cost them that much to refund the stakes for the horse in second. This is relative of course, if the favourite places second it may cost them more but on average it is a fairly safe type of deal for them to run.
The main reason these types of promotion are so popular, however, is simply due to competition. Companies know that horse racing punters tend to be more serious bettors and are often more valuable to them over time. Given all decent operators have racing odds often with best price guarantees, stats, the ability to watch races, etc., then they need to give you something else to give you a reason to risk your money with them.
Money back offers are generally run at a loss, i.e. the bookies don’t expect to make a profit on that race/meeting. What they want to do is to encourage you to bet with them, they even want you to win your first bets in the hope you will then continue to bet with them without offers. If you are savvy though you can use these various deals to your advantage to get money back insurance on the races you want to bet on.
These deals are also more common and often more valuable for jump racing compared to flat racing, simply because there is more that can go wrong in a jump race and so the offers are more applicable and the higher variability make them safer for the betting sites to provide the deals.
What Types Of Insurance Offers Are Available?
There are all sorts of different types of money back offer, some are very imaginative and quirky, but broadly they fall into the following categories. Most pay back money as a free bet, usually £10-£50, but cash offers are common for the festival and big events like Ascot, etc.:
- Money Back 2nd – Does what it says on the tin, give you a refund on your win bet (not each-way) if your horse comes in second place in the selected race or selected races / meetings. Some of these offers can be open to all racing, especially variants such as money back if second to the starting price favourite.
- Money Back 2nd/3rd/4th – As above but including additional places for money back if your horse finishes in them. This type of deal is generally available for bigger field handicap races.
- Money Back If You Lose – A very rare offer but can be found for things like the festival. This is effectively a loss-leader to get you through the door as you are guaranteed your stake back if you lose.
- Money Back If The Favourite / Selected Runner Wins – Another easy one to understand and common for races where there is a strong favourite, e.g. get money back if Tiger Roll wins the grand national, etc.
- Money Back Jockey / Trainer – Another common theme on this type of deal is to give a refund if a certain jockey or a horse trained by a certain trainer wins a race.
- Beaten By A Distance – This is more common for flat racing, it gives you a refund if your horse is beaten by a length or head. Again some of these, especially beaten by a head, can be available year round for all racing.
- Faller Insurance – Covered on our faller insurance page, this is another that does what it say on the tin, gives you your stake back if your horse falls, is brought down or unseats the jockey. Obviously only applies to jump racing. There are variants of this, such as refund for first fence fallers only.
- Non Runner No Bet – This is standard for bets placed on the day for UK and Irish racing but can be found ante-post for big events like the festival. It will give a refund in cash unlimited if your horse doesn’t run, but not if it is already under starters orders. See our NRNB page for these deals for Cheltenham.
- Fail To Finish Insurance – A kind of variant on faller insurance but with more flexibility given it gives you a refund if your horse doesn’t finish for other reasons than falling, e.g. bolting off the course, going the wrong way, etc.
- Fair Terms Money Back – Some of the better bookies, including our favourite BetVictor, provide terms that mean if your horse comes under starting orders (and so not eligible for NRNB) but loses all chance before it gets going (e.g. fails to get out of the starting blocks) they will give you a full cash refund. Not something that happens often but a nice fair term to have in case.
- Other Market Refunds – Most of the offers above only cover win bets they will not cover you if you bet on other markets or place multiples such as Lucky 15’s. There are some brands that do provide money back for special bets, one example are those that give money back for Lucky 15/31/63 bets.
Cash vs Free Bets
Pretty much all of the money back deals for horse racing you see as standard will give you a stake refund as a free bet. This means you don’t get your stake back as such but you get a matched free token (up to a set value) to have another go and if you win with the free token you get to keep those winning in cash. You will not win with every free bet but the fact you have the opportunity in the first place adds longer term value compared to a bookie not giving you insurance in the first place.
For the bigger meetings and the festival especially you will find money back in cash deals. This will usually be ‘money back 2nd’ and often only up to £10 but there are a few bookies that now do this for all races. If you are going to bet on these races anyway you might as well get the cash back insurance thrown in. There is no catch, it is real cash, you can do what you want with it, either use it to bet or withdraw.
Rarely you might see a ‘money back in cash if you lose’ deal, this is an obvious loss-leader for the bookie to get you betting with them but if you want to bet on that race anyway why not use it. It isn’t really even a bet as it is technically a free shot at backing a winner where you are guaranteed to get your money back (up to the max value).
How To Compare Value
Value is relative to the way you bet. If one bookie is providing insurance and another isn’t but has better odds on the selection you want to back then only you can decide what is more valuable to you. It is worth remembering that best odds guarantee will apply to bets on the day, giving you some additional cover, but overall the bookies that provide the most offers tend to have higher margins i.e. worse odds. The question is is it better to have more if you win or have protection if you don’t?
Once you’ve tackled that conundrum you can then compare the value of the offers. For something like the Cheltenham Festival there are several comparative deals to choose form but value is still relative. For example, one bookie has money back 2nd/3rd/4th but only up to £10, another has money back 2nd up to £50. If you only want to bet a tenner go for the first offer but if you want to bet closer to £50 it may be better to go for the second, or even better split it, staking £10 with the 2nd/3rd/4th offer and £40 with the other bookie using money back 2nd.
What goes without saying is that you should use cash back offers before those that return stakes as free tokens. As mentioned above you can spread your bets across several different betting accounts to take advantage of multiple offers to maximise the overall value to yourself.
Some operators also let you use offers in parallel giving an added consideration. For example, you may have a bookie with a money back deal in place but also a bet boost offer that lets you boost the prices of your own select bets, in combination the overall value of this can often be higher.
We obviously care a lot about the Festival on this site and it deserves special mention for horse racing money back offers simply because you will see promotions for this event that you will not get for the rest of the year. Cheltenham is the pinnacle of the jump racing season with 23 out of 28 races being Grade races and 14 of those being Grade 1 and brands know that serious racing punters bet more in this one week than any other time of the year for racing.
For this reason operators will do almost anything to get you to bet with them, they are happy to lose money on some accounts during Festival week as they known they will recoup that value in the longer term. As a customer though this is brilliant as if you are sensible and use several betting accounts and spread your bets around you can take advantage huge offers.
It is worth saying though that you shouldn’t be lead by the bookies, you should only place the bets you want to place. Firstly think of what horses and races you want to place a wager on and then go find the right promotion, don’t be coerced into backing a market just because of an offer.
Common Terms To Be Aware Of
As with all offers there are always terms and conditions to be aware of. One thing to note is bookies want you to use offers and have a good time with them, this way you may bet with them again, so they make the terms fairly straight forward but there are still some pitfalls to consider, the most common ones are covered here:
- Win Only – Most money back deals are for the win bet market, this means if you place other bets using special enhanced odds markets, multiples, place bets, forecasts, etc., you are unlikely to be covered. If you bet each-way the refund will be for the ‘win’ part of the bet only.
- Maximum Refund / Minimum Bet – Some deals have minimum bet amounts to qualify and all will have a maximum stake refund amount.
- Minimum Odds – Insurance deals, especially the cash ones, will often have minimum odds, e.g. your horse may need to be 3/1+ (for example) to be applicable to the offer – basically meaning you can’t just back odds-on favourites.
- Non Runners and Void Bets – If your bet is made void you will get your money back in any case, for non-runners you will get your money back if you bet on the day, if however you bet ante-post, even using an offer, if that market doesn’t have NRNB and your horse doesn’t run you will lose your stake.
- Minimum Field – Some refund offers have a minimum field size to be applicable, for example, the terms may say ten or more horses must run otherwise you won’t get a refund. Worth being aware of.
- Disqualification – Often if your horse is disqualified you will lose your stake. Some operators do give money back on disqualified winners, or pay them out as winners along with the official winner. You can read about disqualification rules on our dedicated page.
- Free Bets – When you get a refund as a free bet you need to consider the markets it is open to (all sports, just racing, select race, etc.), the expiry time, any maximum winnings limits, any minimum odds for use.
- Dead Heats – If two or more horses cannot be separated at the finish then both are classified as a winner and you effecively get half the payout (or less if more than one horse). If you are using an offer in this case, e.g. money back 2nd and it is a dead heat for second the terms will likely say you will get half of the money back. Dead heats are rarer these days with the technology available for photo finishes but they do happen still.
- SP Favourite – There are deals that give you your stake back if you finish second to the starting price favourite or on all runners if the SP favourite wins. It is worth considering that the SP favourite when you place your bet may not be the same as the one that starts the race.
- Distances – If using a money back deal that gives you a refund if your horse loses by less than a certain distance it is worth knowing what they are. A length is obvious, it is less than the length of the winner, a neck is officially classed as 0.3 of a length, a head is 0.2, a short head is 0.1 and a nose is 0.05 of a length.
- Payment Method Restrictions – It may sound strange but you can’t actually use certain offers with some brands if you deposit using methods like Skrill, Neteller, PayPal, PaySafeCard, etc., simply because they are more open to abuse. If you fund a betting account using any method other than a bank card it is worth checking if you are eligible.