What is the Rule 4 betting rule in horse racing?

Rule 4 may sound complicated but it’s an industry-wide practice that ensures you get the correct odds

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Horse racing betting is all about good luck and great judgement—yet sometimes the jargon surrounding the sport can be tricky to decipher.

If you’re a newcomer to horse racing then fear not because Paddy Power is here to bring you up to speed with our Demystifying Racing catalogue of guides.

And one of the weirdest eccentricities in racing betting is Rule 4. This is a weird clause in horse racing that can sometimes catch punters unawares. And while it isn’t regularly used, knowing when Rule 4 in horse racing is being applied will certainly help you out in the future.

WHAT IS RULE 4?

So what’s Rule 4 all about? Well, Rule 4 is simply a deduction that is made to winning bets – often in horse racing – when the race is impacted by a horse not running. It is a fair method of recalculating bets that have already been placed when suddenly a horse is withdrawn.

For example, if you bet on the second favourite to win a race at 5/1, but the favourite withdraws just before the race, then your chances of winning suddenly shoot up. To adjust for the non-runners, Rule 4 calculates what the true odds of each remaining horse now are.

Don’t worry, you won’t have to do anything when Rule 4 kicks in but it’s worth being aware of the clause in case you’re banking on a specific return from the race.

Paddy power Rule 4 explainer

Rule 4 is used if a horse misses the race (GETTY)

DOES RULE 4 AFFECT MY PAYOUT?

If Rule 4 is implemented in a race you have bet on then your payout might be affected. However, this depends on the horse that withdrew and the size of the race. For example, if a horse priced at 33/1 withdraws from a race involving 18 runners then Rule 4 would not be implemented, as the effect on the rest of the field is minimal.

However, were the 7/2 favourite to withdraw from a race involving just seven runners then Rule 4 would kick in. Effectively, the shorter the odds of the non-runner, the bigger the Rule 4 deduction becomes. Check out more with Paddy Power help here.

RULE 4 EXCEPTIONS

You can get a racing betting exception to Rule 4s if you bet on the ante-post markets. These are odds that are listed before the full race list is announced, and are often used by punters looking to bet on races weeks and months in advance.

Rule 4 Paddy Power on twitter

HOW TO CALCULATE RULE 4

Calculating Rule 4 can be tricky–and realistically you’re not expected to do it yourself! It all depends on the price of the non-runner and the strength of the field. However, as a general rule this table explains the basic Rule 4 deductions.

Rule 4 dedications table at Paddy Power

Paddy Power Rule 4 dedications table (PP)

You can also use the Paddy Power Bet Calculator and click on the Rule 4 button to help predict your potential payout.

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