What Happens In A Dead Heat In Horse Racing?

We often get asked what happens in a dead heat in horse racing. It may sound complicated at first, but it’s not too difficult to work out what the return from your dead-heat bets should be.

In this article, we’ll discuss in detail what a dead-heat means and show you some examples of how to work out bets you’ve had in races in which horses have dead-heated for first or other places.

Examples Of Dead Heat Win Bets

The easiest way to show you what happens in a dead heat in horse racing is to show you an example of a dead heat for first place involving two runners. This example highlights what returns you could expect from win bets placed on the two hypothetical winners.

Let’s say that Horse-A is the 6/4 (2.50) favourite and Horse-B is 7/1 (8.00).

If you had a £20 bet on a winning 6/4 favourite, you would normally expect a return of £50 (£30 winnings + £20 stake).

But when two horse dead heat for first place, you only get 50% or half of the return you were expecting. So, if you had a £20 bet on a winning 6/4 favourite that dead heats with one other horse for first place, you’ll only get back £25 (half of your winnings £15 + £10 half of your stake).

If you had a £20 bet on the winning 7/1 shot, you would normally expect a return of £160 (£140 winnings + £20 stake).

So, if the 7/1 shot has dead heated with the 6/4 favourite, you will only get 50% or half of the return you were expecting. That means you will only get back £80 (half of your winnings £70 + £10 half of your stake).

Of course, dead heats are not limited to two horses. There has also been the odd case where three horses have dead heated. To work out your return, simply divide the amount of money you would have received if your horse had won outright by the number of horses that have dead heated. For example, if three horses dead heat and you’ve had £20 on one at 7/1, you divide £160 by 3 to get a return of £53.33.
Example of Dead Heat Each-Way Winners

If you have a £20 each-way bet at 7/1 and your horse dead heats with one other horse for first place, this is a little trickier to work out. The easiest way to do this is to split the bet into two, the win bet and the place bet, as you will have won half your win bet and your full place bet.

The reason why you have won your full place bet is that the two horses that have finished first are also decreed to have taken the first and second places for each-way terms.

Let’s use our hypothetical 7/1 shot to explain this.

The win part of your each-way bet is the same as the winning bet we explained earlier. You’ll get back £80, half of what you would have done if your horse had won outright. But your full each-way return will be added to it.

If the place terms are 1/5 the odds, you will also win £48 for your place bet for a total return of £128. If the place terms are 1/4 the odds, you will win £55 for your place bet for a total return of £135.

Examples Of Horses Dead-Heating For Places

Horses don’t always dead heat for first place, and you’ll also want to know what happens if your horse dead heats for one of the places in the race. This gets a little more complicated.

Let’s say the bookies are paying three places on a race and your horse dead heats for second with one other horse. In this scenario, you will get paid out your full place dividend, as these horses have shared second and third places. So, using our 7/1 shot once more, you’ll get back £48 if your bookie is paying the standard 1/5 odds, 3 places.

But it gets a little trickier if your horse dead heats for the final paying place with another horse. As these two horses are only sharing one place. In this scenario, you will only get back half of your predicted place return. So, using our 7/1 shot for a final time, you would get back £24.

Can I Avoid Dead Heats In Horse Racing?

It’s impossible to avoid dead heats in horse racing, but they don’t come along that often. When they do, they tend to show you whether you’re a cup half full or a cup half empty kind of person. Some punters will think they’re unlucky not to have won and others will be grateful that they’ve not lost.

Professional gamblers tend to take dead heats squarely on the chin, knowing there’s no point moaning about them as it won’t change anything. Okay, that’s not strictly true, we’ve moaned once or twice when dead heaters would have won easily if their jockeys had got their mounts out from behind a wall of horses much earlier – but you must accept the good luck and bad luck in horse racing.

But while luck plays its part, we think making a profit from gambling on horse racing is more down to hard work and excellent analysis.

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