Ante Post Betting Guide – The Ante Post Bet Explained

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This is our guide to ante post betting in the sport of horse racing. We explain what it is, discuss the pros and cons and talk about the biggest events this type of wager is available. We also highlight ante post betting rules and give some tips on how to make it work for you, so you understand it from all angles.

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What is Ante Post Betting

Ante post betting

An ante post bet, often hyphenated to ante-post, is a wager placed on a horse race prior to final declarations. Traditionally, prior to the growth of off-track gambling and online betting sites, it applied to any bet made before the on-course market opened.

Ante is another word for the stake, the amount of money in the wager. It also comes from the Latin meaning before or prior to in time. Post, meanwhile, is a reference to the Betting Post. This upright, not to be confused with the winning post, was erected to signal the start of fixed odds horse racing betting on a racecourse during the Nineteenth Century.

Today, ante post bets are made before the final field for a race is known. Such wagers come with great expectations. Horse racing ante post betting is something punters undertake with a view to getting better odds. The goal is to not just beat but far exceed the starting price (SP) that a runner is returned at.

Ante Post Betting Rules

When you bet ante post, there are certain rules on horse racing betting sites that come with this type of wager. The main one is very simple – unless stated otherwise, you aren’t guaranteed a run for your money. In other words, Non-Runner No Bet doesn’t apply to your wager. You lose your stake if the horse doesn’t line-up in the race.

There are also standard ante post each way betting terms on offer. It doesn’t matter how many runners get declared and eventually take part. If it’s a conditions race you’re betting on, then it will be a fifth of the outright win price on three places. Alternatively, handicaps are a quarter of outright odds for four places.

As time draws nearer and entries from early closing races are reduced at the penultimate declaration stage five or six days beforehand, if it then emerges that there may not be more than eight runners, bookies may alter the terms they offer. A conditions race could be reduced to a quarter of the outright win price on two places.

With handicaps when there’s likely to be less than 16 runners, the revised terms are a quarter of outright odds for three places. Another important thing about ante post betting is no Rule 4 deductions can apply to your wagers. These only come into effect and reduce what you stand to win after final declarations.

Pros & Cons of Ante Post Horse Betting

As with any form form of gambling, there are upsides and drawbacks to an ante post bet. We’ve already touched on some of these in highlighting key rules governing this wager. Here are the pros and cons of horse racing ante post betting you should know:

Pros

  • Likely to beat the Starting Price (SP)
  • No Rule 4 deductions apply
  • Potentially better each way terms
  • Better value than waiting for decs

Cons

  • No guarantee of a run for your money
  • Miss out on extra places in big field races
  • Bets not covered by Best Odds Guaranteed

Cheltenham Ante Post Betting

There is one National Hunt meeting that attracts more interest than any other. It’s the Cheltenham Festival in March. These four days see the most money gambled on the sport of horse racing than any other. In advance of the Festival, ante post Cheltenham betting is no less popular. This is because so many recognised and unofficial trials take place throughout the jumps season.

Every single race at the Festival is an early closing event. Some entries are out sooner than others with them released on an almost weekly basis between January and early March. These announcements shape ante post betting for Cheltenham as much as horse racing results from earlier in the campaign, if not more so.

The biggest races at the Festival are the first to reveal their entries. We’re talking about the Champion Hurdle and Cheltenham Gold Cup ante post betting here, followed by the Queen Mother Champion Chase, Ryanair Chase and Stayers’ Hurdle. Novice hurdles and chases follow, with the handicaps and then other conditions races the last announced.

Looking at the Cheltenham odds, you will also often find the same horse entered in multiple races. This particularly prevalent with the novice hurdles and chases. It’s a cautionary tale with the Cheltenham Festival ante post betting, so you’ll need to be careful. Look for Non-Runner No Bet terms, which have become popular with bookies well in advance of this meeting.

Festival handicaps are ultra competitive, so you may miss out on five, six or even more places by betting on them early. With 28 races in total over the four days, there is plenty of Cheltenham ante post betting to go at. There are some great opportunities that this Festival affords punters unlike any other.

Grand National Ante Post Betting

No horse race in Britain or anywhere on the planet for that matter has a larger field than the Grand National at Aintree. They call it the world’s most famous steeplechase with very good reason. Much like Cheltenham’s big races, ante post betting for the Grand National is available all year round.

While you’re likely to get bigger odds by betting on this event in advance, there are also some drawbacks. The bookmakers won’t pay out beyond four or five places. Ignoring Aintree ante post betting and waiting for final decs results in shorter prices but Extra Places, Non-Runner No Bet terms and the Best Odds Guaranteed all applying your wager. Again, there are pros and cons to weigh up

With a maximum of 40 horses from the Grand National odds lining up, punters must decide if four places (a tenth of the field) or five places (an eighth) is enough bases covered for any each way bets. It’s certainly a race where hedging is fine and even encouraged due to its wide open nature. The Grand National ante post betting is full of pitfalls for punters, though, with it being so oversubscribed.

Betting on the Classics Ante Post

As the premier Flat races for three-year-olds with future careers at stud and as broodmares at stake, the Classics attract plenty of ante post bets. While the UK isn’t alone in having age-restricted events on turf (or dirt) that influence thoroughbreds via the bloodstock industry around horse racing for years to come, these contests fascinate punters.

It’s not just because ante post betting is available on the action either. Each of the British Classics, like their Irish and French counterparts, is an early closing race. That means you can study the pedigrees of entered horses early and pick out a punt even before they have run in the many recognised trials that exist throughout the spring and summer. Let’s take a look at each of the Classics in turn:

Ante Post Betting on the 2000 Guineas

First up is the 2000 Guineas, one of two Classics run at Newmarket races today and since the early Nineteenth Century. Taking place on the Saturday of the Guineas Festival in early May, this is essentially a race for three-year-old colts on the Rowley Mile, although fillies can also run in it.

Shaping the 2000 Guineas ante post betting most are key trials towards the end of the previous Flat season and a couple more earlier in the spring. These races include the National Stakes and Beresford Stakes in Ireland, the Middle Park and Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket, and Vertem Futurity Trophy during the prior autumn. The Craven Stakes and Greenham Stakes are recognised spring trials for the 2000 Guineas, meanwhile.

1000 Guineas Ante Post Betting

Held 24 hours after the colts’ race, the 1000 Guineas for fillies only is also run over the Rowley Mile at the Headquarters of British Flat action. Trial races that influence the ante post betting on horse racing here include the Moyglare Stud Stakes in Ireland, plus the Cheveley Park Stakes and Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket the previous autumn.

In the spring, meanwhile, the Nell Gwyn and Fred Darling Stakes, with the latter run up the long home straight at Newbury races, are used to prep fillies for the 1000 Guineas. Both this and the 2000 Guineas expose stamina weaknesses in three-year-olds, because of the undulating nature of the Newmarket track even if it is straight.

The Oaks Ante Post Betting

Moving on a month or so to early June, The Oaks sees the three-year-old fillies step up to a mile-and-a-half. This is the first of two Classics at Epsom Downs races, taking place on the Friday of the Derby Festival. Influential trials include the Salsabil Stakes in Ireland, the Cheshire Oaks, Musidora Stakes at York and Lingfield Oaks Trial.

Punters shouldn’t ignore the 1000 Guineas either. Fillies staying on strongly at the finish of that race but lacking the pace to win over a mile could still catch the eye of punters and the bookies alike. Such types could also shorten in the Oaks ante post betting as well. Epsom is a unique track which certainly doesn’t suit all horses.

Ante Post Betting on The Derby

As the premier Classic, the Epsom Derby is also the UK’s richest horse race. This is held on the first Saturday in June, although it used to be on a Wednesday. Again over a mile-and-a-half, it is usually contested by colts only, although fillies can run in it instead of The Oaks if connections wish.

You’ll find Epsom Derby odds available pretty much all year round. This reflects how important this event is. Races that shape ante post betting on The Derby include the Ballysax Stakes and Derby Trial at Leopardstown in Ireland, while in the UK the Sandown Classic Trial, Lingfield Derby Trial and Dante Stakes at York are events to follow.

Win or run well in any of those, or events at Chester races during the May Festival like the Chester Vase or Dee Stakes, and a horse’s price shortens. In fact, once all of those trials happen, the Epsom Derby ante post betting often looks totally different to when it first becomes available for that year the previous summer.

Ante Post Betting on the St Leger

Much later in the Flat season with autumn almost upon us, the St Leger at Doncaster races over an extended mile-and-three-quarters is the fifth and final Classic of the campaign. This race is all about stamina with many of its winners becoming successful sires of National Hunt racehorses in the years that followed.

Key trials include the Irish Derby and Yeats Stakes in the Emerald Isle, plus the Queen’s Vase, Bahrain Trophy, Gordon Stakes, Great Voltigeur at York races during the Ebor Festival and March Stakes in the UK. Results of these shape the ante post betting on a horse racing event that is the oldest of the Classics, dating back to 1776.

Ante Post Betting on Royal Ascot

Outside of the big three-year-old races, there is one Flat meeting and festival in particular that it’s easy to have ante post bets on. That is of course Royal Ascot held over five consecutive days in the middle of June attracting horses from Europe, America and Australia to our shores. There are eight Group 1s at the biggest summer horse racing gala and each of these is an early closing race:

  • Queen Anne Stakes for 4yos+ over the straight mile
  • King’s Stand Stakes for 3yos+ over five furlongs
  • St James’s Palace Stakes for 3yo colts over the round mile
  • Prince Of Wales’s Stakes for 4yos+ over a mile-and-a-quarter
  • Ascot Gold Cup for 4yos+ over two-and-a-half miles
  • Commonwealth Cup for 3yo colts and fillies over six furlongs
  • Coronation Stakes for 3yo fillies over the round mile
  • Platinum Jubilee Stakes for 4yos+ over six furlongs

Other early closing races with Royal Ascot ante post betting available on them include the non-juvenile Group 2 races. You can still bookmaker quotes for the two-year-old races, though. It’s more common to find Royal Ascot odds for these events:

  • Queen’s Vase for 3yos over a mile-and-three-quarters
  • Duke Of Cambridge Stakes for 4yo+ fillies and mares over the straight mile
  • Ribblesdale Stakes for 3yo fillies over a mile-and-a-half
  • King Edward VII Stakes for 3yo colts and geldings over a mile-and-a-half
  • Hardwicke Stakes for 4yos+ over a mile-and-a-half

The ante post betting on Royal Ascot even extends to Heritage Handicaps that include the Royal Hunt Cup and Wokingham Stakes, which attract the largest fields. A maximum of 30 runners contest these big betting races, so Extra Places are certain to follow once final declarations come out. That again puts punters in a quandary about the right time to place their wages.

From sprints to long-distance events like the Gold Cup, Royal Ascot ante post betting covers a big range of the best racing taking place in front of royalty. Markets in the three-year-olds only race often get shaken up as other big races like the Guineas, Oaks and Derby happen. Some of the also rans from the Classics come to Ascot races in search of some compensation on an equally big stage.

Goodwood Ante Post Betting

There is one other five-day meeting on the Flat in the UK, and that’s Glorious Goodwood. Held in late July, sometimes spilling over into early August, the Qatar Goodwood Festival going by its sponsored name is a highlight of the summer holidays. The ante post horse betting here mirrors what’s on offer in advance of Ascot.

In other words, there are markets available on the most important Goodwood races today in advance of the Glorious meeting. These are again Group 1 and Group 2 races, plus Heritage Handicaps. Here is a list of all the Goodwood ante post betting available to punters over the summer:

  • Lennox Stakes (Group 2) for 3yos+ over seven furlongs
  • Goodwood Cup (Group 1) for 3yos+ over two miles
  • Sussex Stakes (Group 1) for 3yos+ over a mile
  • Nassau Stakes (Group 1) for 3yo+ fillies and mares over a mile-and-a-quarter
  • Golden Mile (Heritage Handicap) for 3yos+ over a mile
  • King George Stakes (Group 2) for 3yos+ over five furlongs
  • Lillie Langtry Stakes (Group 2) for 3yo+ fillies and mares over a mile-and-three-quarters
  • Stewards’ Cup (Heritage Handicap) for 3yos+ over six furlongs

Arc de Triomphe Ante Post Betting

We’ve dealt with Britain’s richest horse races in the Grand National and Epsom Derby, so that just leaves the most valuable in Europe. The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe run at Longchamp in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris, France on the first Sunday in October attracts an international field. British, Irish, German and even Japanese horses also feature in the ante post betting for the Arc de Triomphe these days.

A mile-and-a-half Group 1 race open to three-year-olds and up, this is the biggest French horse race of all. With a century of history behind the Arc, it’s a prize coveted by many with fillies and mares doing particularly well in the contest in recent years. The weight and sex allowances they receive is a key factor in how the Arc de Triomphe ante post betting market is formed by traders.

Other Big Betting Races You Can Bet on Ante Post

There are plenty of other early closing races where you can get an ante post bet on outside of the major meetings and festivals too. Here are 10 more important events which attract plenty of early market interest from punters:

  • Lincoln Handicap (Heritage Handicap) at Doncaster over the straight mile (March)
  • Scottish Grand National (Grade 3) at Ayr over four miles (April)
  • Coral Eclipse (Group 1) at Sandown over a mile-and-a-quarter (July)
  • King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot over a mile-and-a-half (July)
  • Ayr Gold Cup (Heritage Handicap) at Ayr over six furlongs (September)
  • Cambridgeshire (Heritage Handicap) at Newmarket over a mile and a furlong (September)
  • Cesarewitch (Heritage Handicap) at Newmarket over two-and-a-quarter miles (October)
  • Paddy Power Gold Cup (Grade 3) at Cheltenham over two-and-a-half miles (November)
  • King George VI Chase (Grade 1) at Kempton Park over three miles (Boxing Day)
  • Welsh Grand National (Grade 3) at Chepstow over three-and-three-quarter miles (December 27)

Ante Post Betting Tips

We could let the subject of an ante post bet go without asking our experts for advice. They often give horse racing tips in advance, so know all the perils and tricks attached to early wagers. Here are their helpful hints that you should take heed of:

Look at Previous Course and Distance Winners Carefully

First up, any previous course and distance winners should command respect among early closing entries. These horses have already proven they not only handle the track where a race takes place, but the distance of it too. Course specialists that turn up and win around a venue time and again can never be discounted as others entered may not act so well there.

If Non-Runner No Bet Offered Ante Post, Then Take It

Another of the ante post betting tips concerns Non-Runner No Bet. On certain events like Cheltenham and maybe even the Grand National, your wagers in advance could be covered by it. If NRNB is a deal offered in conjunction with ante post bets, then take the bookies up on it. Why? Well, you’ll get a run for your money or your stake back if this cover is in place.

Listen to Connections if They Name Future Races as Targets

Racehorse owners and trainers have to make early closing entries weeks and even months in advance. While that is an indicator of intentions, plans can change. Listen carefully to the interviews of jockeys and handlers after they have won a race and take note of the next target they have in mind. This stops you from backing a horse ante post without knowing if early closing engagements are still on the agenda.

The Last Word

That’s all there is to our ante post betting guide. We’ve touched on everything you need to know about this type of wager. It’s really important to gamble responsibly when taking a punt in advance, because of the additional risks attached. There is no better feeling than backing a horse ante post and it winning, though!

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Jamie Clark (@JamieClarkSport) edited Coral bookmakers’ digital platforms for a number of years with great success before forging a successful freelance career as a tipster. Growing up in an equine environment, Jamie is never afraid to take on the favourite and focuses on value. He is now sourcing you winners at SportsLens from the best of the British and Irish horse racing action.