5 Tips for Choosing an Underdog for a Horse Racing Bet

8th March 2024

If you consider yourself a risk-taker and want more returns on any horse racing bets you place, then you may be interested in these useful tips for how to choose the best underdog.

The 2024 Cheltenham Festival is fast approaching, so let’s dive straight in to find out some of the best ways to pick underdogs (aka outsiders or longshots) that could potentially upset the odds in any of the 28 races that are scheduled to take place over the four day period at this years’ festival.

When is the Cheltenham Festival?

The Cheltenham Festival is one of the biggest horse racing events on the National Hunt racing calendar in the United Kingdom. It takes place each year in March, and this year will run from Tuesday 12 until Friday 15.

What are the main races to keep an eye out for at the Cheltenham Festival?

The pinnacle of the Cheltenham Festival is the Gold Cup, but there are also several other highlights that most people will tune in for, including the Queen Mother Champion Chase, the Champion Hurdle, and the National Hunt Chase, to name just a few.

Is it always best to bet on the favourites, or are underdogs ever worth betting on?

Most betting experts will tell you that betting on the underdogs is a fool’s game.

However, when you closely examine the Cheltenham festival odds on today’s most trusted online bookmakers, you will see that even some of the underdogs in certain races aren’t outrageously priced with ridiculous odds.

In other words, it can sometimes pay to be on the underdog, especially when they have more realistic odds and slightly favourable implied probability rates. It still doesn’t mean betting on the underdog all the time, only on rare occasions.

5 Tips for choosing an underdog to bet on in a horse race

If you want to avoid the favourites and would rather bet on the underdog instead, there are several things to consider before choosing which underdog would be a ‘safer’ bet.

Underdogs rarely win, meaning there’s a much higher risk of losing your money when betting on them, but when they do win, the payout can be huge, depending on how much you initially bet.

Here are five tips to consider before choosing which underdog to bet on:

  1. Current form – find out where the horse has finished in its past five or so races and how they have done against the favourites in other major races
  2. Jockey – find out which jockey is riding and whether they are an experienced rider with previous wins on underdogs or a novice with very little racing experience
  3. Odds – carefully examine the odds because underdogs may not be as bad as you might think. At some sites, a horse might be 60/1, and at others, the same horse could be priced at 80/1 or 100/1, so shop around for the best odds to get the best price
  4. Course/track – find out what kind of course the underdog performs better on and what course it will be racing on
  5. Weather conditions – similarly, try to find out how the underdog horse performs in certain weather conditions and what the weather is expected to be like on the day

Final note

Don’t forget that anything can happen in a horse race to upset the odds and see the underdogs come out on top. Take Mon Mone in 2008 at the Grand National, for example.

Before the race started, this horse was one of the underdogs at 100/1. Mon Mone ended up winning that day and made a lot of underdog bettors happy.

There was also Aurora’s Encore in 2013, which won the Grand National at 66/1, and Last Suspect, which won the 1985 Grand National at 50/1, showing that even the underdogs can have their day.

When betting on the underdog, whether it’s at the Cheltenham Festival or the Grand National, the key to betting is doing extensive research but also remembering that no bets are ever guaranteed to win.