What does SP mean in horse racing?

Paddy's beginners guide to all things about the SP in horse racing.


What does SP mean in horse racing?

If you are new to horse racing and are interested in placing a bet, you may be wondering “what does ‘SP’ mean in horse racing”? This is because you will see it quite often next to a horse’s odds when choosing which horses to back.

‘SP’ typically stands for Starting Price. This refers to the final odds that are offered on a horse just before the race begins. This means if you see an option on a horse to back it at 10/1 or SP, the SP price could end up different to the odds that were available at the time you placed your bet. The odds could increase to 15/1, drop to 5/1, or could end up being exactly the same.

How is the starting price calculated?

The SP is determined by a calculation based on the total amount of money that has been wagered on all of the horses in the race.

As bets are taken on a race, the odds are adjusted in real time based on the amount of money that is being wagered on each horse. The odds for each horse will change up until the race starts as more bets are placed. More bets being placed on a horse will cause the odds to fall, and fewer bets being placed on a horse can see the odds increase. These odds will be used to calculate the starting price.

The starting price is typically calculated by taking the median of the final odds offered by on-course bookmakers just before the race begins. This median price is then used as the official starting price.

If there are no on-site bookmakers at a race course, which may be the case for smaller race tracks, then the Starting Price Regulatory Commission (SPRC) will calculate the SP by using odds from online bookmakers.

Why is SP important in horse racing?

Now we know the SP meaning in horse racing and how it is calculated, why is it important? The truth is, the SP isn’t as important as it used to be, especially if you’re new to betting on horse racing.

Experienced bettors will often use it to help with calculations, especially if they place more complex bets like forecasts and tricasts. This is because it can be an important factor to consider as it can provide an indication of which horses are considered the strongest contenders in a race. However, it’s worth noting that the SP is not always a reliable predictor of the outcome of a race, as unexpected events can occur during the running of the race that can affect the final result.

One of the reasons why it has lost some of its importance is the introduction of ‘best odds’ promotions. This is where you are guaranteed the best odds on a horse if the odds are higher when the race starts that the odds you backed it at. The SP is not included in these promotions and so you can often find you end up with lower odds by taking it.

When should I use the SP?

If you’re looking for a reason when it may be good to use the SP, here are some examples:

  • Lack of early odds: If you are placing a bet on a race early in the day before the odds have been fully established, you may choose to use the SP as a reference point for the final odds that will be offered just before the race begins.
  • Flexibility: If you want to keep your options open and have some flexibility with your bets, taking the SP can be a good option.
  • No best odds promotion: If there is no best odds promotion, then because the SP is calculated as an average, there is a chance you can get better odds by picking it.


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