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    Meet our author
    Betting expert Elizabeth Winnie

    Through a ranking system and serious and consolidated standards, we make a point of evaluating the best authorized betting sites in Australia. This information will not only allow you to have access to the best bonuses, but also to the best conditions to make the best sports bets online.

    Updated: 2024-02-13

    Horse racing has been a popular sport to participate in, watch, and bet on for several centuries - and it’s probably one of the oldest forms of entertainment worldwide. There’s evidence of people using horses to race dating back five millennia, making it the oldest to ever take place on Earth. From the far east to the wild west and all the way to the Outback, horse racing is one of the oldest and most popular sports in Australia as well.

    In fact, it’s one of the most loved sports in the Land Down Under, with thoroughbred horse racing being the 3rd most popular sport. Betting on horse races is a very popular pastime activity for Australians as well, with an AUD$29.1 billion being wagered with various bookmakers in 2021 alone. That number rose from AUD$14.3 billion in 2010, which means that the interest in betting on horse racing has doubled in the country in the past decade.

    There are around 370 registered racecourses in Australia, and almost all of them are equipped with automatic totalizators and cameras at the starting gates and the finish line. In this article, we’ll talk about how horse racing came to be what it is today in Australia, the country’s achievements in this particular sport, the most famous racecourses and contests, and how the betting industry fares with the growing demand. We’ll also provide several racing tips for new bettors and how to make the best out of the bonuses at betting websites new in 2024. Let’s get to it!

    Horse racing history development in the country

    The first European settlers in New South Wales brought horse racing to the new continent, with the first horses coming to Australia in 1788. They arrived on the famous Lady Penrhyn with the first fleet, and that marked the beginning of horse racing. However, it wasn’t until the early 1800s that the sport got popular in Sydney, and the first official race took place in Sydney’s Hyde Park in 1810. It was organized by officers of Governor Macquarie’s 73rd Regiment, and, contrary to the view of the sport in Europe, it became a more egalitarian spectator sport in Australia rather than a sport for the wealthy.

    The first famous thoroughbred that was important to Australia was known as young Rockingham. It was brought to Australia in 1797, and sources suggest that some type of horse racing in Australia was happening at the time, but the first official clubs started forming in 1810 when the first Australian racing meetings started taking place as well.

    Some other famous stallions that were imported during the early 1800s include Northumberland, which was imported from England, and a few Arabian horses that were imported from America. In fact, horses out of the Northumberland bloodline can still be found on racecourses across Australia.

    The first official race took place in 1810 at the Sydney Racecourse and lasted for three days. However, all the horses had to be imported back in the day, so the sport was only available for military officers and people who owned horses back then.

    The interest for the sport was growing, and more and more people wanted to take part - which is why the Australian Racing and Jockey Club were formed in 1826. It later becomes the Australian Jockey Club, and with the merger with the Sydney Turf Club, it’s now called the Australian Turf Club (ATC). The governing body was formed to ensure fair racing practices across the country, and by 1842, almost all Aussie towns had their own race track.

    There are several types of horse racing types taking place in Australia, including Class races, Maiden races, Steeplechase races, Hurdle races, and Flat races. The horses are graded based on their abilities, which determines the type of race they can take part in.

    Australian achievements in horse racing

    Horse racing is the third biggest sport in Australia, only behind the Aussie rules and Rugby league, and it’s the second most attended sport, with attendance numbers counting in the millions on a yearly level. More than 250,000 Australians work in the horseracing industry, while more than 300,000 people have a direct interest in the sport. Many of them are either horse owners or members of syndicates that own and train horses. There are more than 30,000 racehorses currently in Australia, more than 1,000 jockeys, and over 3,600 registered trainers, making this the country with the most participants in the horse racing industry per capita.

    There are about 3,000 meetings yearly taking place on Australian land, organized by around 400 race clubs. This makes it with the most horses starting in races each year per capita, and only the second country in the world behind the US. When it comes to prize money that is distributed annually, Australia trails only the US and Japan.

    Most famous Australian horse racing sportsmen

    To celebrate the achievements of horses, jockeys, trainers, and administrators, the country established the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2001. People and horses that make lasting marks in racing are nominated to be inducted into the ARHOF, which is the ultimate racing achievement. The list counts around a hundred Australian jockeys, horses, and trainers, and they’re widely considered to be not just some of the horse racing icons in Australia, but in the world.

    Australian jockeys

    Many believe that Australian jockeys invented the crouched riding style that is much used today. They’re now considered among the best in the world, and there have been many Aussie jockeys that have successfully ridden and won on numerous racecourses around the world.

    Some of the most famous Australian jockeys include:

    • Arthur 'Scobie' Breasley
    • David 'Darby' Munro
    • Roy Higgins MBE
    • Tom Hales
    • George Moore OBE

    Australian racing trainers

    Professional horse training is of utmost importance for any team that intends to win in horse racing in Australia. Horses have to be in full training services when preparing for a race and be fit and ready to compete. The health and happiness of the horse are the crucial factors that make a horse a winner, and Australia has some of the best trainers in the world.

    The most successful Australian trainers are Bart Cummings and Tommy Smith. Cummings has been the trainer of 12 Melbourne Cup winners, whole Smith has won 30 Sydney Trainers’ Premierships in a row.

    Other successful trainers that have left a mark in racing and sports include:

    • Gai Waterhouse
    • David Hayes
    • Chris Waller
    • Jack Denham
    • Colin Hayes

    Most successful Australian horses

    Australia has had some great racehorses, but the top spot is reserved for the legendary Phar Lap. He was a champion Thoroughbred racehorse who is widely regarded as the greatest racehorse from the Australian continent. Often called The Wonder Horse, he had 20 major wins before his controversial death of poisoning. However, there have been a number of very successful Australian horses, and some of them are:

    • Carbine
    • Tulloch
    • Kingston Town
    • Bernborough

    Is horse racing supported by Australians?

    Horse racing is one of the most popular sports in Australia and has become a part of the Australian identity. Although the exact numbers haven’t been revealed to the public, it’s safe to say that millions of spectators tune in to watch the most exciting races in all of Australia’s states and territories.

    What makes horse racing so popular in the Land Down Under is its accessibility. That’s also one of the main reasons why this sport is not as popular in other countries in the world as it is in Australia - it’s a matter of accessibility to the masses. With over 370 racecourses around the country and a population of just over 25 million people, there isn’t any other country with more horse racecourses per capita internationally.

    Besides the adrenaline rushes and excitement that the sport provides, fans like the social aspect of horse racing. That’s particularly true when going to races and watching their jockeys and horses race against each other. It’s considered a family and/or friend activity and a place where horse racing fans can meet and chat with other racing enthusiasts, as well as learn about the latest racing news.

    Another reason why Aussies love horseracing so much is the fact that Aussies love gambling - and particularly betting on racing. With so many races that can be spectated live and through live streams, Australians have a tremendous choice when it comes to horse betting, where they can bet on their favorite jockeys and horses.

    Horse race betting in Australia

    Despite the popularity of horse racing as a sport to spectate, admire, and participate in, there’s no debate that one of the reasons why it’s so popular is due to the fact that millions of people are betting on it. In fact, punters have been betting on horse races for centuries now, and many argue that the sport is much more exciting when you’ve placed a bet on your favorite jockey or horse. Statistics show that over 1.2 million Australians bet on horses daily, which is, on average, more than any other sport.

    In comparison to other sports, such as soccer or cricket, there are many bet types that are exclusive to horse racing. We’ll cover the basics of horse betting and the meaning of some of the terms that you might encounter.

    The Basics of Betting on horses

    There are two different types of wagers when it comes to racing horses - straight wagers and exotic wagers. For beginners, it’s recommended to stick to the straight wagers and betting on only one horse, as they’re much simpler and won’t empty their wallet.

    Exotic wagers allow a combination of bets on multiple horses at once, which is more expensive and takes more skill and knowledge. It goes without saying, but exotic wagers have a much better pay-off than straight ones, which is why they’re fan-favorite among Aussie punters.

    Straight Wager

    With straight wagers or betting on only one horse, there are a few things to keep in mind:

    • Win - meaning the player bets that the horse will be first place and gets a pay-off only if that’s the case.
    • Place - the horse places in 1st or 2nd place. It has a smaller pay-off than a win, but it’s a more secure option.
    • Show - the horse places in 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place. The pay-off is significantly smaller than winning and placing a bet, but it’s more secure.
    • Across the board - combines the three bets above. If a horse wins, the player gets the money from win, place, and show. If a horse places second, the player gets the money from the place and show. And if a horse places in third place, the player gets only the show money. Essentially this type of bet is not the best one because it’s more expensive and is not as profitable.
    • Win/Place or Place/Show - Another combination of wagers, only this one combines two instead of three different wagers. For example, when combining win/place, if the horse wins the pay-off is for winning and placing in second. Because it’s two wagers into one, it costs double the normal wager.

    Exotic Wagers

    Exotic wagers allow betting on multiple horses in a single bet, so the payoff is usually bigger but they are not recommended for beginners.

    • Exacta - two horses coming in first and second place in the exact order.
    • Quinella - two horses to come in first and second place in any order.
    • Trifecta - three horses to come in first, second, or third place in the exact order.
    • Superfecta - Four horses to come in first, second, third, and fourth place in the exact order.

    Keep in mind that these are just some of the exotic wagers that are available for betting. Bookmakers often offer a wide variety of betting types and options when it comes to betting on racing, and the odds vary depending on the horse, the jockey, the racecourse, the trends, etc.

    Bookmakers that offer horse racing Australia betting

    There are several legal bookmakers that offer odds for horse racing in Australia. To be eligible to operate in Australia, a bookmaker should have a valid license issued by the state governments. This means that the bookie pays taxes to both the sport and the respective governments, which makes them a major part of the racing Australia industry as a whole. While some of these bookmakers are based in Australia, others are owned by major international companies and are licensed locally. Check out some of the top bookies that offer the biggest horse racing sections:

    • TAB Australia
    • Tattsbet Australia
    • Ladbrokes
    • Betway
    • Bet365
    • Unibet
    • 888 Sportsbook

    The biggest contests of horse racing in Australia

    Some of the biggest and most prestigious horse races take place in Australia each year. The most famous Australian race is the Melbourne Cup, which has a staggering prize pool of over $8 million. However, the Melbourne Cup was ‘outpaced’ by The Everest, which has a prize pool of a whopping $15 million. Check out some of the best and most popular Australian races.

    The Melbourne Cup

    The Melbourne Cup is widely regarded as ‘the race that stops the nation’. It regularly attracts over 100,000 spectators and has a prize pool of over $8 million. It’s held annually at the start of October at the Flemington racecourse in Melbourn, and it’s a race that attracts viewers and competitors from around the world. It’s one of the longest-running racing events in history, and the grand prize for the winning team is $4.4 million.

    What’s more, the event is every horse betting enthusiast’s galore, and statistics show that around $750 million are wagered on the races throughout the four days while the Melbourne Cup is running.

    The Everest

    Everest is the richest race in Australia and is widely considered to be the richest turf race in the world, with a prize pool of $15 million. It was first held in 2017 at Randwick Racecourse in Sydney, and it’s an Australian Turf Club Weight for Age Thoroughbred horse race. Like the Melbourne Cup, The Everest is run annually in October as a feature race of the Sydney Spring Carnival.

    Similar to the Pegasus Cup, the concept of the race is that there are 12 slots, and the entry fee for each slot is $600,000. The race attracts millions of bettors from both the country and internationally and has grown to become the second most popular horse race in Australia, behind the Melbourne Cup.

    WS Cox Plate

    The W. S. Cox Plate is a race with long and rich history, taking place at the Moonee Valley Racing Club at Mooney Valley Racecourse in Melbourne. The event is a Group 1 Thoroughbred horse race for horses aged three years old and over, and it’s held in late October each year.

    The race was first run in 1922 with a purse of £1,000, and it now has a purse of AUD$5 million.

    Tips on horse race betting

    As popular as horse racing is, it’s no surprise that it’s among the most popular sports among bettors. If you’re a newbie and would like to start wagering on horse races, we’ll provide you with some betting on racing tips.

    Our first tip is to do your homework and do thorough research before selecting which jockey or horse to bet on. Learn all there is about the racecourse, the type of track, and the history of the race, read the racing forms and make an informed decision.

    The next tip is to make different types of bets. Once you’ve learned all there is about the race and the horses that will participate in it, you’ll need to learn all there is about the different types of bets. If you’re a beginner, we suggest sticking to straight-wager bets like the Win, Place, and Show. However, if you’re planning to make a hobby out of racing Australia betting, you’ll need to learn all the exotic bets and use them strategically. You can even incorporate betting systems, which will increase the chances of winning dramatically.

    Our third tip is to start odds shopping. Some bookmakers offer more competitive odds than others, so you should do your research and find out which bookie offers the best odds. This can be a quick and effective way to boost your winning potential.

    Our last tip would be to gamble responsibly at all times. As fun as horse betting is, it can turn into a costly hobby, so you should learn to manage your bankroll and never spend more than you can afford.

    Bookmaker bonuses on horse racing Australia betting

    The competition among bookmakers is fiercer than ever, and many of them offer bonuses and promotions to attract new users and keep their existing players happy and entertained. There are all types of promotions that racebooks offer, but some are more common than others, so we’ll cover the most popular types of bonuses that bettors can claim on racing today.

    Welcome bonusIt’s a type of promotion that’s only available for newly registered players. It’s a way of saying ‘thank you’ by the operator, and it usually comes in the form of a free bet, a risk-free bet, or a deposit match-up to a particular percentage. For example, if the racebook offers a 100% deposit match welcome offer of up to $100, it means that the operator will match the first deposit you make at the site dollar for dollar.
    Rebate offersThese promotions are usually available for all registered users, regardless if they’re returning or new customers. There are several type of rebates, such as flat rate rebates on bets that offer a return up to some percentage (for example, 10%). They usually vary depending on the bet and the amount the bettor has wagered.
    Bet insuranceThis type of promotion is rather common among online racebook operators and offers rebates (sometimes a full bet money return) if one leg of a combination bet doesn’t win. For example, if you only get three of the bets on a Pick 4 contest, with this promotion, you’ll get a full refund on the money you have wagered.


    ⓵ Could I bet on horse racing in Australia?

    Yes, you can. There are many bookmakers that offer odds for horse racing at some of the most popular races in Australia and internationally.

    ⓶ Could I have a special bonus for horse racing betting?

    Yes. Almost all legal bookmakers in Australia offer some kind of a bonus - and there are special bonuses for horse race betting as well. The offers usually come in the form of a free bet, a welcome bonus, an odds boost, bet insurance, and rebate promotions.

    ⓷ What time is the best for horse racing betting?

    The best time for horse racing betting in Australia is October when three of the biggest and most prestigious races are held. The list includes the Melbourne Cup, The Everest, and the W. S. Cox Plate.