Greyhound racing still remains one of the most popular sports to bet on online. The industry may not be as thriving as it once was, but that doesn’t mean there are still a huge range of races and meetings to choose from.
If you’re new to the sport, then it’s worth noting that it’s one of the easiest to get started with. As you will find from this guide, the basics are just that, basic, but as you start to progress, you can apply more research to your bets by tackling things like the form guide, which should give you a better chance of winning.
What you’re going to find is that the races come thick and fast. There are multiple meetings almost daily and with it you are going to get a good range of races with each meeting.
Brief History & Current Status
The greyhound racing scene took off in the 1920s. It was seen as the working-classes equivalent to horse racing, but not only that, it allowed people to place legal bets at the dog tracks where otherwise they would be refused credit or simply not allowed to bet.
The rise of the sport continued throughout the thirties, forties and into the fifties. At one point, there were well over 100 licensed greyhound tracks and 200 unlicensed greyhound tracks in the UK, with millions of people attending each year.
Introduction of High Street Bookmakers
The bubble started to burst in the 60s as the legalisation of high street bookmaking came in. No longer were people forced to go to the track to place a bet and instead, they could do so from a number of different outlets on their high street.
The industry never really recovered from this and the number of tracks have been declining ever since. Other factors, such as more options for activities in peoples free time, the welfare of the dogs and online/mobile betting have also been factors that have contributed to the decline of the sport.
As it stands, there are currently just 24 greyhound tracks open in the UK and none in London. As a bit of hope for the industry though, this number has remained pretty steady over the last decade or so, and it’s reported that a lot of these tracks are starting to increase in popularity. A lot of this is down to the bookmaker though, of which we talk more about next.
Bookmakers & Closed Tracks
You may or may not notice that there are more meetings on a betting site than you can actually attend. In fact, the meeting might not even be advertised by the greyhound track and likely many have no knowledge that a race is taking place.
The reason is that a good number of races are now run behind closed doors. The dog’s race around the track but there is no one there watching the race. The bookmaker will show these races on TV and they offer markets on their betting site, but no one will be watching.
They’ve started doing this to keep the costs down for racing. The bookmaker can still make a return from the race by offering odds, but by not having to cater for thousands of people, it means the costs that are involved every time they allow people to watch are removed.
Whilst this might strange, it’s actually been the bookmakers that have saved the greyhound racing industry. You see, a lot of stadiums have been bought outright by bookmakers, such as Coral, Ladbrokes and William Hill, just to make sure they stay open so there is racing to promote on their betting site. Given that they make so much money from their books, it means that they don’t need to make as much money from the stadium as a business, hence why the doors have remained open.
Not all sites have been sold to the bookmakers, but even those that haven’t been purchased outright usually have some sort of sponsorship deal in place that enables them to keep the doors open.
We’ve only just touched the surface here but have written an extensive article on the industry as a whole, what’s happened to it and how it’s going to progress over the coming years. You can read that article by clicking here.
Step 1 – Racing Schedules
The first port of call is going to be finding out what races are taking place and when. Racing in the UK can start as early as 11am and then final races can be as late as 10pm. There are no hard and fast rules about when the meeting starts and ends, apart from that they will be broken down into both day and evening meetings.A day time meeting can start from 11am and run through to about 2pm. Evening meetings will usually start around 6pm and run through to as late as 10pm.
Each meeting will vary in terms of how many races they include. Generally, you are going to get at least 10 for each and they usually run in 15-minute intervals between each race. Meetings can have up to 15 or even more races, especially for more popular tracks, such as Belle Vue in Manchester.
Racing takes place every day of the week, although you will find that the most popular days are Wednesday and Saturday. The earlier in the week it is, the fewer meetings you will have to choose from as these times are less popular than they might have been. Whilst there is still plenty of races to choose from and more than enough even for the most die-hard greyhound racing fanatics, the reality is that the industry is not what it once was.
Step 2 – Dog v Trap Betting
There are basically two options when betting on greyhound racing for the outright winner and they come in the form of betting on a specific dog or a specific trap. Betting on the dog will likely be the most familiar to many. It’s like betting on horse racing where you peruse the form and decide which has the best chance of winning. It works in the same way with greyhound racing. But, with greyhound racing some of the races can be bet purely on the trap and not the dog.
Let’s assume that we are looking to bet on the dog. For this, we will need to conduct research on how that dog has run previously. We should be looking at things like previous results, previous distances, ground, field and strength of opponents. Many people like to look at how well the dog has run at a specific track as well, as this often gives a good indication if it’s going to enjoy the set up of the race.
Using all this info allows the punter to make a more informed decision on the chances of the dog. If it looks like it’s proceeded fairly then it might be worth a go but if not, the give it a miss. Given that all races will have 6 dogs included, it’s easy to look through the form of each dog to decide which is the best for that race.
Trap betting is definitely an easier strategy to follow and for this you are just betting on the same trap at a certain course for a prolonged period of time. The research that needs to be undertaken for this is a little different, but you are looking at which trap wins the most often at a particular track. There will be other variables, but often certain parts or sections of each track will run faster than others, which does give a slight advantage. This makes the draw and integral part of greyhound racing.
If you are very new to the sport, then this is often going to be the best route to take. You can research this prior to the start of the meeting and then just keep betting on the same trap. You will need a good amount of patience with it though and to trust your research to make these bets successful.
Step 3 – Different Bet Types
If you’ve come from football betting or pretty much any sport other than say, horse racing for example, then you’re likely going to be disappointed by the number of bets that you can make with greyhound racing.
There’s still a decent range and arguably more than horse racing but compared to other sports where you have hundreds to choose from, greyhound racing will feel a little thin on the ground. Here’s a quick guide on some of the markets that you can bet on.
This is the most common bet and for this you need to choose the winner of the race. Here you’re going to be able to choose by trap or by the name of the dog, similar to what we spoke about earlier in this article.
Prices for this can be taken either at the time of placing the bet or the starting price (SP). The starting price is the price that is stated by the bookmaker when the race starts. So regardless of what this is at the time of the race starting, you will always get the price at the start.
This bet is where you are betting on the dog to finish with a certain number of places. This is usually in the top 2, but some markets will include the top 3. Obviously, the more places that are included, the lower the odds for each dog.
It’s worth noting that the finishing position for these bets doesn’t have any reflection on the amount that you get paid. So, if your dog wins on the place market, you don’t get paid extra money for this, like you would with an each way bet.
This is proving to be an increasingly popular market and with it removes the favourite from the betting. It means that the market then changes from 6 to 5 dogs.
These markets work great for races that have a short price favourite. The finishing position of that dog now become irrelevant and the other 5 dogs will race in their own mini-race.
There are some bookies that offer Insure Bet as an option. This is where the bookmaker will return your stake should you back a dog to win and it finishes in either 2nd or some markets may stretch to it finishing 3rd as well.
These markets are often offered as promotional markets that are targeted for major races such as the Derby. The bookmaker will offer you Insure Bet for the race when you register a new account, or they may also offer it for existing accounts as well.
Bet on the Favourite
This market is where you select the favourite prior to the start of the race and your bet will be carried over to whichever dog starts the race as favourite. For example, you might select this market a couple of hours prior to the start of the race and then your bet will be carried over to the dog that starts as favourite.
Named Dog v the Field
When you place a bet on a named dog v the field, the bookmaker is going to give you two options; either you place a bet on a dog to win or you take all the other dogs in the field to beat them.
What you will find from this market is that the price of the dog named dog is the same as the regular betting market and then the “field” bet will vary depending on how much of a favourite that dog is. Remember, all you need is any other dog to win the race should you back the field bet.
There are now quite a few trap bets that you can place prior to the start of the race. This include odd v even (numbers), inside v outside (trap 1, 2 and 3 v trap 4, 5 and 6) and inside v middle v outside.
The trap bets are often a popular one for beginners and a good way to cover a number of different dogs with each bet to keep things a little more interesting if you aren’t all that sure which dog to back.
The trap challenge is where the punter selects a trap at the start of the meeting that is going to be most successful over the course of the races for that day or evening. Success is translated as wins, so basically, it’s the trap with the most wins for the meeting.
This may seem a bit random, but you can actually apply quite a bit of form and strategy to this to make these bets successful.
Forecast & Tricast
Forecast betting is where you need to predict the dogs that will finish in 1st and 2nd, in the correct order. Reverse forecast is where you select three dogs to finish in those positions in any order.
Tricast is the where you need to select three dogs to finish 1st, 2nd and 3rd. Again, reverse tricast is where you pick 3 dogs to finish in any order.
This market allows punters to choose a distance that a certain dog is going to win by. This can be as a rounded number in terms of lengths, like 3-5 lengths or it can be a min/max m=number, such as a minimum of 3 lengths. The maximum make up for this is 12 lengths.
Step 5 – Reading the Racecard
The racecard for greyhound racing is designed to let you know who’s running the race and also a little bit of info on that dog. It’s not as complicated to read as horse racing, although it still had a little bit of work required to truly master what’s going on. Cards are often split into three parts.
1. Race Overview
The image above shows the top section that is basically an overview of the race. Here we can see things like the location (Sheffield), the time of the race, date, grade, distance and race type, which are all pretty self-explanatory. You will also notice a “track profile” section that isn’t available on all cards, but it highlights what type of dogs the track might work best for.
You can also see the prize money that is on offer for each race. Here it states that 1st place gets £105, with the field taking home £35 each and a total pot of £280.
2. Information about the Dogs
The second part is a dog summary and gives an overview of information on that dog. The first section is the trap number and the form. The form is indicated as the most recent being furthest left. As we can see in this example, the dog is running in trap 1 and last time it ran it finished last (6th).
As you move along you see the name of the dog (Ashgrove Misty) and the trainer (D L Fretwell). Next to the trainer is their strike rate in terms of winners. Remember, this is the trainers strike race and not the dogs strike rate.
Next along we have the gender, colour and its date of birth. One more across is the dogs win record and it’s sire. So, this dog has had 3 wins from 14 starts and it’s sire is Kinloch Brae. Next is the career record from this trap and it’s sire. Finally we see the rating for that dog and then the odds for the race as it gets nearer the start time.
3. History of the Dog
The final part is the history of the dog and more in depth info about how thy have run previously. This is often where you get to see the most amount of info for each dog and where most people spend their time when researching the dogs. It is worth noting that not all race cards include these or have them in this much detail, but they are easy enough to find and free!
Let’s work from left to right, although most are pretty self-explanatory:
- Date – Date of the race run
- Type – The race type, flat, hurdles, etc.
- Track – Destination of the race
- Dist – Distance of race run
- Grade – Grade/Class of the race
- Eye – Indicates that the race run by this dog was eye catching or not (blank for no)
- Proxy – Handicap mark assessing the overall strength of the race
- Trp – Trap number run from
- TFSec – Timeform adjusted sectional time for the race
- Bend – Position of greyhound at each bend where applicable
- Fin – Final position
- Btn – How many lengths beaten by
- 1st/2nd – Winner of the race or 2nd place of this dog won
- WinTime – Time recorded by the winner
- TFGoing – Timeform going allowance
- ISP – Official starting price
- TFTime – Timeform official time for the dog in this race
- SecRtg – Timeform official rating adjusted for this race
- Rtg – Overall racing for the dog in this race
As you can see, the cards can include a lot of vital information that can all be applied to create much more informed bets. The cards may look a little confusing, but once you’ve worked with a couple, they really aren’t all that scary.
Plus, we can guarantee that the more you use them, the more successful you will be with your greyhound picks!