Horse Wagering in Europe

Horse wagering in Europe is a popular pastime with a long history and a host of venues where racing fans can bet on all kinds of horse races including flat races, steeplechases and handicaps. Europe has a long tradition of horsemanship, horse breeding and competitive horse racing, going back to the time of the Roman Empire and even earlier to the ancient Greeks and Alexander the Great, often depicted upon horseback.

Today, it’s difficult to find any European country where horses are not raced. Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom all host prestigious races with the word “Derby” in them, and most nations host a variety of steeplechase or “hunt” races as well, the most famous being the UK’s Grand National.

Horse wagering in Europe is for the most part very similar to that in North America, with several notable exceptions. The most outstanding difference is that “show” betting, or betting for a certain horse to finish among the top three places, is not often seen at European tracks. This is because the majority of European bookmakers only accept Win or Place bets in races with seven or less horses. Another factor is that in races with larger fields, a “place” bet would cover the first three finishers and if the field is 16 or more, then “place” would cover the first four finishers.

Other differences between European and North American horse wagering mainly have to do with the popularity of certain types of bets and the names which they are called. For example, “Trifecta” is used in Europe while “Triactor” is the term more often used in the United States and Canada. Another distinguishing feature of European horse wagering is the fact that bookmakers, especially in the UK, offer exotic bets that cover two or more races occurring at different race tracks. One would expect the bettor to really know their horses should they decide to take a chance on one of these bets!