Horses for Courses – Is there a ‘right’ way to bet on horses?

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UK punters’ faith in likeable horse names pays off

According to UK punters selecting a horse to have a bet on just because you like the name really does work.

Researchers polled a thousand UK adults who enjoy an occasional flutter and those surveyed said betting on a horse due to its name has been more successful for them than any other method – including jersey colours and jockey names.

The survey was commissioned by Free Betting and carried out via By applying the technique of backing a horse because of its name survey respondents said the most they have won from a single bet was £32.17 on average.

That was a higher return than for bets placed based on jersey colour (£21.15), name of the jockey (£24.67) or selecting a horse at random (£28.82).

The survey also revealed that 50 per cent of casual punters usually select a horse just based on what it’s called.

Additional methods commonly used by punters included the number of the horse having personal significance or indeed the good looks of the jockey.

22% study the horse’s form before having a flutter, but 56% say they have more fun backing a horse based on attributes such as colour, name or number – rather than recent form.

The research also discovered that respondents placed an average of 10 bets a year – and usually place down no more than £10.55.

When asked to state the name and motivation for betting on a horse when recalling the most memorable time that they had picked a winner based on the name, touchingly, one survey respondent provided this poignant story: ‘Mon Mome, which won the Grand National in 2009. I choose the name because we had just lost our Mother and it translates as My Mum, I think it won at 200/1 and I had £1 bet on it, so I won £200. My sister also choose it for same reasons and she won £100’.

Other insightful responses included ‘Grey Lady, as we had been to jazz club of same name night before’, ‘Highland Mist – because my folks are from the Highlands of Scotland’ and ‘L’Escargot in the Grand National as child, when I opened the paper to select my horse it was the first name I saw.’

Others were more light hearted and funny, listing a whole bunch of amusing horse names for lucky winners, including, ‘Your tent or mine’, ‘The Bunny Boiler’, ‘Thunderlips’, ‘Major Laugh’, ‘Custard the Dragon’, ‘Chicken Dinner’ and ‘Bondage’.

Several participants in the survey said they had backed the famous Red Rum just because of the name and had great returns from betting on the treble Grand National winner.

Quizzed as to what it is about a horse’s name that would make them most likely to place a bet on it, those surveyed provided plenty of colourful, insightful, honest and even surreal replies. Indeed, responses varied from, ‘A name that’s similar to a family member’, to ‘If it reminds me of my maiden name’ and as exotic as ‘Something Spanish sounding’.

Additional answers included ‘If it resonates with me’, ‘Gut feeling’, ‘Recent events’, Reminds me of my childhood’, ‘Something relevant to an occurrence that day’ and ‘Reminds me of holidays’.

When asked ‘If you had your own race horse, what would you call it to make people bet on it?’ there were plenty of smart responses, with punters going for names such as ‘Bet On Me, Champion, Chancer, Sir Winsalot, Lucky, Pot of gold, Lightning, I’m A Winner, Speedy, Invincible and Sure Thing. However, one respondent must have been banking on some reverse psychology with the suggested name of ‘Donkey’!

A spokesman for Free Betting commented: “Many people have great success offering tips on which horses are likely to place where on any given race. But it seems for a large portion of gamblers, that takes the fun out of it – and it’s much more enjoyable to support a horse or jockey you feel a personal connection with. And while this may be more fun, it may not lead to more winnings – so we’d advise a mixture of both, and of course to be cautious when gambling at all not to take things too far.”


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