Horse Racing Ante-post Betting Guide

Ante-post betting allows you to bet on horses at big prices, and can be fun and profitable, but there are some key aspects to know when betting months in advance. We explain all here...

  • Ante-post Betting explained

  • Skills needed to bet successfully on ante-post

  • The most popular long-term ante-post markets

What is Ante-post betting?

A very popular form of gambling, ante-post betting is the process of placing a bet on a market well in advance of an event's scheduled start time, often meaning you can get much bigger odds about your selection.

As the name suggests - ante, meaning before, and post, in this context meaning the point at where a horse race starts - ante-post was originally introduced in horse racing, meaning punters could place a bet weeks, months and even a year before horses went to post (the start of a race).

But in the modern day, ante-post markets can be found in many sports. In golf for example, you can place a bet on the winner of the Open Championship 12 months in advance. This would be classed as an ante-post market because you're betting on a golfer without even knowing if he will play in the next Open Championship.

What are the risks to betting Ante-post?

The obvious answer to the above question is losing your money (stake) before the event has even started if your ante-post bet doesn't participate in the event.

In day-to-day betting, if you have a bet on an outcome that doesn't start the event - a horse becoming a non-runner, or a first goalscorer who doesn't play in a football match - then you get your money back in full.

But ante-post betting is different in that if your back a horse to win the Grand National six months in advance for example, then you will lose your money if your horse doesn't run in the Grand National come race day.

The reason you have to accept this risk in ante-post betting is because you will get much better odds on an ante-post market because the bookmaker will offer a wide range of possible selections without knowing which ones will commence the event.

Ante-post betting on Horse Racing

Aw we've already mentioned, ante-post betting was originally introduced for horse racing betting markets, and it is this form of ante-post betting that remains by far the most popular to this day.

The process and risks are exactly the same, in that you can have a bet on a horse to win a future race when an ante-post market is available, but you will lose your money if that horse doesn't make it to post (run in the race).


There are two main forms of ante-post betting markets in horse-racing, generally referred to as long and short term markets.

A long term ante-post market is one that is offered up to 12 months in advance, like a market on the Aintree Grand National or Epsom Derby for example.

A short term ante-post market is one that is usually offered at the five-day entry stage, meaning it will be an ante-post market five days before the race commences and up to the point when the final declarations are made. These ante-post markets are usually available every week and tend to focus on the big weekend televised horse races.

For popular race meetings such as Royal Ascot, ante-post markets will usually be priced up before the five-day stage, often around one to two months in advance.

Is there a skill attached to ante-post betting

Whether you're new to betting or an experienced gambler, anyone can place a bet on an ante-post market, but there is definitely a skill to making a profit on it.

You could easily be impressed by a runaway 2yo winner on the Flat, and here connections talk about aiming it for the following year's Epsom Derby. For a lot of punters, this will be the only information they need to back the horse ante-post to win the Derby.

But a more skillful ante-post bettor will seek more information. Is the horse bred to be a Derby contender, will it be suited by the Epsom track, what is the trainer's record in or even getting a horse to the Derby, is that trainer likely to have an even better 2yo emerge later in the season?

The above are just a few questions a more experienced ante-post gambler will seek to find answers to.

And while the bookmaker is also likely to know these answers, you're better off backing a horse in an ante-post market at 20/121.00, armed with all the knowledge you need, than backing it a 25/126.00 when effectively just guessing.

Popular long-term ante-post horse races

Flat Racing

When it comes to Flat racing, the most popular races to bet ante-post on tend to be the 3yo Classics. There are five of them in the UK but Flat racing in Ireland and France have the same type of races that will usually be priced up for ante-post purposes also.

However, the five UK Classics will be priced up much further in advance than any other races, meaning a wide range of selections to bet on at much bigger prices.

The five UK Classics are:

- 1000 Guineas (fillies)
- 2000 Guineas (colts & fillies)
- Epsom Derby (colts & fillies)
- Epsom Oaks (fillies)
- St Leger (colts & fillies)

Although all five UK Classics are open to fillies it is very rare that you will get a filly running in either the 2000 Guineas or Epsom Derby. This is because the 1000 Guineas and Epsom Oaks are filly-only races contested over the same courses and distances as the ones the colts are targeted towards.

Ante-post markets for these races are usually available around 9-12 months in advance of the races commencing, and the skill to betting on them is knowing which 2yo's will develop into contenders for them during their 3yo campaign.

A 2yo colt may demolish his rivals in a 7f Maiden at one of the main tracks, Newmarket for example, and instantly the Epsom Derby is mentioned.

The main rules still apply however before placing an ante-post bet. Check the horse's pedigree to learn whether it is likely to stay the 12f distance of a Derby. Does it have an early entry in the Derby (horses can be entered very early, but can also be entered at various other stages during the year)? Does the trainer have a good record in the race?

As we've already mentioned, an experienced ante-post gambler will seek to know all this information before placing a bet, but there's nothing wrong with taking a punt without some of this information if your instinct tells you that a horse will be very much suited by a particular race in the future.

If there is one key piece of information to try and know however, it would be to know that your ante-post selection is almost certainly going to run in the race that you've bet it for.

There's nothing worse than being impressed with a 2yo winner, backing it ante-post to win the following season's Epsom Derby, only for connections to state a few days later that it will be aimed at the French Derby.

National Hunt Racing

Arguably the most popular races to bet ante-post on are some of the Championship races at the Cheltenham Festival and some of the big annual races such as the Grand National at Aintree and the King George VI Chase at Kempton.

National Hunt racing is different to Flat racing in that the best horses tend to have longer careers. Whereas a top class flat horse will often be retired at the end of a 3yo season in order to go to stud, horses over the jumps can race from around the age of four or five right up until the veteran stage of 10-12yo.

This makes the risks of ante-post betting on National Hunt racing slightly less, as you know that a 7yo Cheltenham Gold Cup winner will very likely return to the same race 12 months later.


Below is a list of the most popular ante-post races to bet on during the National Hunt season:

- Supreme Novices' Hurdle (March)
- Arkle Chase (March)
- Champion Hurdle (March)
- Champion Chase (March)
- Ryanair Chase (March)
- Stayers' Hurdle (March)
- Triumph Hurdle (March)
- Cheltenham Gold Cup (March)
- Aintree Grand National (April)
- King George VI Chase (December)
- Welsh National (December)

Learning about these races is absolutely vital if you want to become a successful ante-post gambler.

A very successful National Hunt Bumper horse for example will likely be aimed for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle the following season, though the winner of a Supreme Novices' Hurdle cannot run in the same race again 12 months later, it will likely be aimed at either the Champion Hurdle or Arkle Chase.

However, a Cheltenham Gold Cup contender can come back and run in the same race as many times as connections allow, and it is the same type of horse that will likely be aimed at the King George VI Chase and possibly the Aintree Grand National.

The races I've mentioned tend to be priced up 12 months in advance and offer great opportunities for ante-post betting, but it's crucial that you know which race your fancy is likely to be aimed at.

A winner of a Champion Hurdle is likely to come back and defend his or her crown 12 months later, but that's not always a given. Connections might favour a campaign over fences meaning the Champion Chase could be the horse's main target.

Don't throw money away by betting on horses in ante-post races just because there's a nice price available. Try to find out which race a horse will be aimed at and at the very least you could be sat on a big-price selection come race day that is now among the favourites to win.

Non-Runner Money-Back (NRMB)

As we've already explained, backing horses at big prices well in advance of a horse race can be extremely exciting and profitable, especially if your selections makes it to post and commences the race at much shorter odds.

But there is a risk attached to ante-post betting. You will lose your money if your selection doesn't turn up.

However, a Non-Runner Money-Back (NRMB) concession - sometimes called Non-Runner No-Bet - takes away that risk of losing your money.

NRMB ante-post markets won't be offered months in advance, but they will be offered three-to-four weeks in advance on some very popular markets, such as most Cheltenham Festival races and the Aintree Grand National.

These markets can be an excellent opportunity to back a selection at a slightly bigger price than it might be on the day of the race, safe in the knowledge that if your horse doesn't get declared for the race, or becomes a non-runner on the day, then you will get your money back in full.

Now read more Betfair Education articles here.

Prices quoted in copy are correct at time of publication but liable to change.