Winning Post

Dead Heat

Occasionally, even with advanced photographic technology, the judge cannot decide which horse has won a race in which case a dead heat is declared. Usually a dead heat involves only two horses but it’s not unknown for there to be three or four horses called in a dead heat. This is a complication because it affects the way the bookmakers pay out on the winner. If you back a winner in a dead heat race your winnings are reduced because the bookmakers are having to pay out on two winning results. Therefore if you back one of two dead heating horses you are paid out the win to half of your stake … so if you bet £10 at 5/1 you will be paid out at £5 at 5/1. If it was a three way dead heat you would be paid out at 1/3 of your stake in the case £3.34 at 5/1. OK I agree it doesn’t seem fair but those are the rules.

Rule 4

The bane of all punters at some time or another. Rule 4 refers to Tattersalls Rule 4. Tattersalls Rules are the rules applying to all betting on horses in the UK. When the bookmakers frame the odds for a race they assume all the declared runners will run in the race. If a horse is withdrawn before a race starts then this will obviously have an effect on the chances of the other runners. Now if the withdrawn horse is a rank outsider with long odds then it’s likely to have little effect on the chances of the other horses, however if the withdrawn horse is one of the favourites then the chance of the other horses will improve significantly. If a horse is withdrawn a reasonable time before the start of the race then the bookmakers will have the opportunity to form a new book with new odds, in that case the Rule 4 only applies to bets struck before the withdrawal. If, however, a horse is withdrawn at the start then it’s highly unlikely a new book will be formed and Rule 4 will apply to all bets. There will be an announcement after the race clarifying the Rule 4 situation.

So what exactly is Rule 4. Well Rule 4 allows bookmakers to make deductions from winning bets to reflect the change in the market resulting from the withdrawal of the horse. This is on a sliding scale. Basically the shorter the odds of the horse being withdrawn the greater the deduction allowed. The following table shows the Rule 4 deductions allowed.

Price of Withdrawn Horse

Deduction (pence in the pound)

3/10 or longer


2/5 to 1/3


8/15 to 4/9


8/13 to 4/7


4/5 to 4/6


20/21 to 5/6


Evens to 6/5


5/4 to 6/4


13/8 to 7/4


15/8 to 9/4


5/2 to 2/1


10/3 to 4/1


9/2 to 11/2


6/1 to 9/1


10/1 to 14/1


Over 14/1

No deductions

So if you have bet £10 on a 5/1 winner but the 5/4 favourite had been withdrawn you would win £30 plus your stake instead of the expected £50 plus your stake ... there being a 40p in the pound deduction, equal to £20, on your winnings.

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