what does lay mean in horse racing

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Lay is a term used in horse racing to refer to a specific type of bet. It means to bet against a horse or horses, with the bettor winning if the selected horse or horses do not finish in the top places (usually the top three). This is in contrast to a back bet, where the bettor wins if their chosen horse or horses finish in the top places. Lay bets can be advantageous when the bettor believes that a particular horse or horses are unlikely to perform well in the race.

What Does “Lay” Mean in Horse Racing?

“Lay” in horse racing refers to betting against a horse. It’s essentially the opposite of backing a horse, which means betting on it to win.

Favourite vs Outsider

  • Favourite: A horse that is expected to win based on its past performances, odds, and expert analysis.
  • Outsider: A horse that is considered unlikely to win and has longer odds.

When laying a horse, you are essentially betting that it will not win. This means you are betting on the outsider or any other horse that is not the favourite. If the outsider wins, you collect your winnings; if the favourite wins, you lose your stake.

Why Lay a Horse?

There are several reasons why someone might lay a horse:

* To profit from an outsider’s unexpected victory
* To hedge a bet on a favourite (by laying the favourite, you reduce your potential winnings but protect yourself from a loss)
* To create a “dutching” situation, where you spread your bets across multiple horses to minimize risk and maximize potential return

**Example: Laying and Backing**

Let’s say there is a race with three horses:

| Horse | Odds |
| Horse A | 2/1 |
| Horse B | 3/1 |
| Horse C | 5/1 |

If you bet £100 to back Horse A, you would win £200 if it wins. If you lay Horse A, you would lose £100 if it wins.

However, if you lay Horse B or Horse C, you would win £100 or £50 respectively, if they win.

Laying Bets

In horse racing, laying bets refers to when you bet against a particular horse or outcome. It’s essentially the opposite of backing a horse; instead of hoping for the horse to win, you’re hoping for it to lose.

  • Why Lay Bets?
    • To hedge your bets (explained below)
    • To make a profit on horses you think are unlikely to win
    • To reduce the risk of losing all your money
  • How to Lay Bets
  • You can lay bets through a bookmaker. When laying a bet, you’ll specify the amount you want to bet, the horse or outcome you’re betting against, and the odds you’re willing to accept.

Hedging Bets

Hedging bets is a strategy used to reduce the risk of losing money on a bet. It involves placing two bets on the same event, one for and one against the same outcome.

  • Example of Hedging Bets
  • Let’s say you bet €10 on a horse to win at odds of 2.00. This means you could potentially win €20 (€10 x 2.00). To hedge this bet, you could lay €10 on the same horse to win at odds of 1.90. This means you would lose €10 if the horse wins, but you would win €19 if the horse loses (€10 x 1.90).

Back the horseThe horse wins€20 profit
Lay the horseThe horse loses€19 profit

Lay Explained: Bet Against a Horse

To lay means to bet against a horse in horse racing. When you lay a horse, you’re essentially predicting that it will not win the race. If the horse you lay does indeed not win, you win your bet. However, if the horse wins, you lose your bet.

Professional Betting

Laying is a common practice among professional bettors, as it can be a profitable strategy. By carefully selecting the horses they lay, professional bettors can increase their chances of winning and make a profit over the long term.

Here are some of the advantages of laying horses:

  • You can bet on horses that you think are unlikely to win.
  • You can win your bet even if the horse you lay finishes in the top three.
  • You can make a profit over the long term.

Of course, there are also some risks associated with laying horses. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • You can lose your bet if the horse you lay wins.
  • Laying horses can be a time-consuming process.
  • You need to have a good understanding of horse racing to be successful at laying horses.

How to Lay a Horse

To lay a horse, you need to find a betting exchange such as Betfair or Smarkets. Once you have found a betting exchange, you can create an account and deposit funds.

Once you have funded your account, you can start laying horses. To lay a horse, simply select the horse you want to bet against and enter the amount you want to bet. The betting exchange will then match you with another bettor who is willing to take the opposite side of the bet.


Let’s say you want to lay the horse Frankel in the 2000 Guineas. You think that Frankel is unlikely to win the race, so you lay him at odds of 2.00. This means that if Frankel loses, you will win £2 for every £1 you bet. However, if Frankel wins, you will lose £1 for every £1 you bet.

Frankel wins-£1
Frankel loses+£2

Lay Betting in Horse Racing

In horse racing, laying a bet means betting against a particular horse winning the race. It’s the opposite of backing a horse, where you bet on it to win. Lay bets are usually placed through a betting exchange, which is an online platform that connects bettors. When you lay a bet, you’re essentially offering to pay other bettors if the horse you’ve chosen loses the race. If the horse wins, you’ll lose your stake, but if it loses, you’ll collect winnings from those who backed it.

Betting Profitability

  • Lay betting can be a profitable strategy, especially if you can identify horses that are overbet.
  • By carefully selecting your lay bets, you can back a horse and lay the same bet with different odds and markets to increase your chances.
  • It’s important to manage your risk by setting betting limits and not chasing losses.
Lay Betting Profitability
StrategyPotential ProfitRisk
Laying overbet horsesHighMedium
Back and lay bettingMediumLow
Chasing lossesLowHigh

Well, there you have it, folks! Now you’re a regular pro when it comes to lay betting in horse racing. Remember, knowledge is power, and the more you know about the ponies, the better your chances of cashing in. So, keep pounding the books, and don’t forget to visit us again soon for more racing wisdom. Until next time, good luck and good racing!