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Horse racing is one of the world’s most popular betting activities, and this is just as true in Ireland as almost anywhere. With 26 major racecourses, Ireland has more tracks per capita than any other country in the world. With 350 race meetings annually and over 2,000 races, the sport is watched by around 1.3 million Irish people every year.

It is, today, just as popular as it has ever been then. Knowing how to get started can be a bit daunting, though, if you’re looking into it for the first time. So, today, we’ve compiled our best tips for getting started with horse racing in Ireland.

Let’s get started.


Firstly, it’s worth noting the markets that are available for betting on. A betting market is whichever category of betting you’re putting your money on. For example, the most common market is going to be simply on the outcome of the race.

You can back a horse to win, meaning you pick which horse you think will place first. If it does, you’ll collect on your bet.

But this isn’t the only way you can bet on horse races. You can also lay a horse to lose, you can bet on a horse to place in a specific spot within the top three—there are many options.

So, it’s important to keep in mind your options. Now, let’s look at where to bet.

Online vs off track betting

You have two basic options when choosing whom to bet with. Your first, and the more traditional option, is to bet with offtrack bookies. This means any physical bookmaker, whether immediately off the track, or on a high street. Most bookies will offer markets on all major horse races.

There are still around 800 bookmaker shops in Ireland, so the medium is far from being entirely replaced by online betting. There are advantages to betting this way, like being able to discuss your options with other bettors. It’s important that you take your time to browse the stores and find the best odds and promotional offers, though.

Your other option is to bet online. There are dozens of betting sites and apps available in Ireland, and, again, they will all offer odds on the bigger races. The advantage of the betting sites is that they are much easier and more convenient to browse for the best deal, and they will very often offer more lucrative promotions.

Out of need to compete with their many rivals, betting sites have offered increasingly attractive welcome bonuses to their customers. These are a great way to get some free bets. For example, you might get €50 worth of free bets for your first €10 deposit.

While you can claim offers like this in high street betting shops, it’s not going to be as easy to browse for the best ones. So, while there are clear advantages to both, online betting for horse racing does come out on top in a lot of ways.

Now, with the basics out of the way, let’s look at odds.

Odds explained

Odds are typically displayed as fractions, although they are sometimes also expressed as a decimal. They represent the bookmaker’s basic prediction for the likelihood of each outcome—though, naturally, skewed somewhat in their favour.

So, the odds in horse racing represent both an individual horse’s odds of winning, and the amount of money you would win if you bet on that horse and it won.

For example, if there is a horse that has 5/1 odds of winning, and you bet £1 on that horse, you would win £5 in the event that the horse won.

So, there are couple of ways to approach the odds in terms of strategy. You can bet on shorter odds, for a safer bet with a lower pay out. But you could also put riskier bets on longer odds, for a higher pay out. The more you know the sport and the racers, the better you’ll bet a deciding on the best odds.

Betting on horses is a really good way to get into any kind of betting, then. It’s popular, there are plenty of markets and events to bet on, and if you play your cards right, the odds don’t have to be stacked that much against you. There are solid strategies you can make use of to maximise your chances, and if you take on board what we’ve talked about here, you’ll have a fantastic head start over your fellow bettors.