Imagine you’ve bet on a horse at Ascot to win the last race of the day. It’s charging towards the line and seemingly on for the win, until at the last second a rival horse draws level! They both cross the post at the same time, and the photo finish cannot split them. What happens to your horse racing bet now?
Dead-heats in horse racing aren’t as common as they once were but they do still happen. Indeed, while very few horse racing betting fans actually consider a dead-heat when making their bets, it’s worth knowing the procedure should your pick be tied at the post.
Paddy Power has a simple solution to what happens to your bet in the event of a dead-heat. Meanwhile, race organisers have to work out themselves what to do with prize money, accolades and the like.
In our latest Demystifying Racing guide, we look at dead-heats and what happens in horse racing betting to stake (and winnings!) once a tie is confirmed.
WELCOME TO PADDY POWER NEWS!
What a dead-heat means for horse racing results
A dead-heat in horse racing is when two or more horses cross the line at the same time – and thus no single winner can be named. In the sport itself, a dead-heat will be decided by the race stewards once they have looked back at the race replays and photo finish.
If there is nothing to split the horses then both are declared the winner. The prize pot available is split evenly between the “dead-heaters”, as the BHA call them. If there is a dead heat for second place but the first-placed horse is subsequently disqualified, then the dead-heaters will both be awarded the race win.
Of course, some races feature a cup or trophy for the winning horse’s owners. In an instance where the trophy cannot be divided, the stewards will decide whether the split of prize money should be adjusted to account for whoever doesn’t keep the trophy.
What happens to my bet during a dead-heat?
Of course, racing betting fans won’t see much of the deliberations above. But what happens to winning bets during a dead-heat in horse racing? Well, the answer is pretty straightforward: your stake is divided by the number of dead-heaters, and your payout is recalculated.
For example, you stake £10 on Paddy’s Girl running at Haydock at 10/1. Paddy’s Girl crosses the line at exactly the same time as Lucky Charm, forcing a dead-heat. The result is that you are paid out based on half your stake, at full odds. In this instance, you would return £55 (£5 x £10 + £5 stake).
Usually a dead-heat takes a few minutes to determine, and so punters may have to wait a little while for the bet to settle.
What an exciting finish to @PaddyPower Day!
It’s a dead heat between Ishkhara Lady and Elle Est Belle in the @KarndeanUK Design flooring Mares' Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race 👀#TheNovemberMeeting #CheltenhamRaces pic.twitter.com/3jS3vxZT8l
— CheltenhamRacecourse (@CheltenhamRaces) November 14, 2020
Are dead-heats common in horse racing?
Dead-heats are part of the business but these days horse racing sees very few ties at the line. The reason for this is that camera technology has improved so much that it’s a lot easier to take accurate, split-second photos of the finish.
Back in 2021 two horses tied at Sandown despite one initially being called the winner. The owners of Hurricane Ivor thought they’d secured victory but upon review it emerged Phoenix Star had crossed at exactly the same moment. Elle Est Belle and Ishkhara Lady also crossed together during the Paddy Power Gold Cup day at Cheltenham in 2020.
Over in the US the 2003 Breeders’ Cup Turf went to a dead-heat as Johar and Ireland’s High Chaparral both crossed the line in a time of 2:24.24. The $1m first prize was split between the owners.
- Why are there false starts in horse races like the Grand National?
- How many horses are there in the Grand National?
- Grand National prize money: How much does the Grand National winner get?
- 9 things to consider when picking a Grand National winner
- Grand National fence names and the stories behind every Aintree jump
- How high are Grand National fences at Aintree Racecourse?
- What are Grand National fences made of at Aintree Racecourse?
- Grand National fences: Order of jumps, total and which are taken twice
- Grand National weights: Why do horses carry different weights at Aintree?
- How many people usually attend the Grand National? What is Aintree’s capacity?
- What is the distance of the Grand National? How far do the horses run?
- How does a horse qualify for the Grand National?
- When did a horse last win the Grand National carrying top weight?
- Do Grand National reserve horses ever run in the race at Aintree?
- What does it mean when a horse is On the Bridle?
- What is a Black type horse race?
- What are the different types of going in horse racing?
- What is a bumper horse race?
- What are blinkers and why do some horses wear them?
- What is an Allowance Race in horse racing?
- What is the difference between hurdles and fences in National Hunt racing?
- What is a halter and why do some horses wear them?
- What does it mean when a horse has spread a plate?
- What is the Rule 4 betting rule in horse racing?
- What is the difference between graded, handicap and selling horse races?
- What does a novice hurdle in horse racing mean?
- What is a listed horse race?
- What does a novice chase in horse racing mean?
- Why do race horses have different ratings and what do they mean?
- When does the National Hunt season start and when does it end?
- Why are there different grades of horse race?
- Why are there 3 different types of National Hunt race?
- Why are race horses given different weights and what does it mean?
- How many different classes of horse race are there?
- What is a claiming race and what do they mean?
- What is an optional claimer in horse racing?
- What is a shadow roll and why do some race horses wear them?
- Why do some races start from stalls and some not?
- What is the difference between Derby and Oaks races?
- What does it mean when a horse knuckles during a horse race?
- What is a stayer in horse racing?
- What is a yearling horse and when are they ready to race?
- What does it mean if a horse has won a point race?
- What does a maiden mean in horse racing?
- How are horses’ ages calculated and why is it not the same as humans?
- What advantages do apprentice jockeys get when riding against professionals?
- What is a conditional jockey?
- What does the term ‘connections’ mean in horse racing?
- Why do some horses wear cheekpieces?
- Who are the stewards in horse racing?
- What does ‘weighed in’ mean at the end of a horse race?
- What is a nursery race?
- Why are some National Hunt races run without fences?
- Why are some horses given a tongue tie during races?
- What does it mean when a horse is ‘pushed out’?
- How are horse racing ratings calculated?
- What does it mean when a horse has a ‘wind operation’?
- How high are the fences and hurdles in horse racing?
- What is an apprentice jockey?
- What is a Bull Ring in horse racing?
- What does the phrase ‘Look of Eagles’ mean in horse racing?
- Why do some horses wear a ‘weight cloth’ during races?
- What is the Triple Crown in horse racing?
- What is a Steeplechase race in horse racing?
- How high are the Cheltenham Festival fences and hurdles?
- Why is the Champion Chase named after the Queen Mother?
- Why does Cheltenham racecourse have an Old Course and a New Course? What’s the differences between the two?
- What is the Cheltenham roar? What difference does it make in races?
- Why are there no jumps in the Cheltenham Festival Champion Bumper?
- How many fans usually attend the Cheltenham Festival? How big is the capacity?
- What is a juvenile in horse racing?
- What is a sire and a dam? Why is breeding so important in horse racing?
- What’s the difference between a colt, filly, gelding, stallion and mare?
- What does it mean when a horse goes to stud?
- What do horse racing commentators mean by sectional times?
- What is the Royal Procession at Royal Ascot? Which members of the Royal Family attend?
- How do they choose Epsom Derby stall numbers? Is there a draw bias?
- How long does it take horses to complete the Epsom Derby? How fast are the runners?
- What has happened to the Queen’s racehorses?
- What is a stewards’ enquiry in horse racing?
- What does it mean when a horse is exposed?
- What happens when there is a dead-heat in horse racing?
- What does the Clerk of the Course do in horse racing?
- What does schooling mean in horse racing?
- How are horses named and who approves them?
- Men must wear socks and other weird Royal Ascot dress codes
- Market movers: What is a market mover in horse racing?
- What is a Ladies’ Day in horse racing and why do they exist?
- Where’s the toilet and how much is a beer – Paddy’s guide to Cheltenham
- How many horse racing courses are there in the UK? Full list
- Top 8 most famous race horses of all time
- 8 of the best retired UK and Irish jockeys