One of the biggest things to do with the Grand National is the betting. Like it or not, millions of us have a flutter each year on the race. For many, it’s a huge occasion, involving all the family and betting a few quid each-way gets us even more excited about the runners.

Betting on the Grand National is worth over £250m and is the single biggest betting event in the country. And whether somebody gives you a tip, or you just like the sound of the horse’s name, betting on it is almost a given. However, a huge amount of people only bet on the National. That’s it. They don’t bet throughout the year so often navigating the various bookmaker sites can be tricky.

Like anything you’re not familiar with, placing a bet online can be daunting. One of the biggest questions we get asked is ‘what does each-way mean’? So I’m here to explain it to you.

What Does Each Way Mean?

Each way is a specific type of bet. If you think a horse will win a race you can put a straight ‘win bet’ on it. This means if the horse wins, you win. If the horse loses, you lose. It’s very straightforward.

However, the Grand National has 40 runners and as one of the largest races in the world, anything can happen. As we all know, sometimes you just need a sprinkle of good luck on the day to get you over the line.

That’s where the ‘each-way’ bet comes in. You are basically making TWO BETS. The first bet is for the horse to win. The second bet is for the horse to place. That means finishing in 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or even 5th place.

So if your horse doesn’t win but finishes in 3rd place, you still get paid out by the bookmaker. You lose the first part of the bet because the horse didn’t win. But you get 1/4 or 1/5 of the quoted odds for winning the place part of the bet.

An Example

Imagine Tiger Roll isn’t the race favourite. Instead, pretend he has odds of 20/1 to win the Grand National. You decide you want to place a £5 each-way bet on Tiger Roll. The bookmaker is paying 1/4 odds on the each-way part.

You are then betting £5 on him to win and £5 on him to place. That means your each-way bet will cost you £10.

Now pretend that he finishes in 3rd place. You lose the first £5 bet. You still have your £5 place bet at 1/4 odds. 20/1 (the odds) x £5 (your wager) = £100. Divide that by 4 (a quarter odds) and you will get £25 plus your £5 each-way stake back.

That is how you calculate an each-way bet.

Why Bet Each Way?

As I mentioned before, the Grand National is a notoriously difficult race. On its day, any horse can have a shot at winning. In 2019, Magic Of Light started at 125/1 in the betting. She went off on odds of 66/1 and came second. Imagine having an each-way bet on that mare!

Even the best horses can struggle over the fences. That is why, to maximise your chances of getting some kind of return on your bet, the each-way is so much better. With some bookmakers paying out to six places, you are essentially giving yourself six chances of winning.

When it comes to the maths, it is never recommended to bet each-way on a horse with odds of less than 6/1. With the Grand National, this is rarely a cause for concern as so few ever go off on odds that short.

That means there is usually no reason why you wouldn’t bet each-way in this instance.

When Not To Bet Each-Way In Horse Racing?

Like everything, there are of course some exclusions. Races like the Cheltenham Gold Cup are different. It is not a handicapped race so all horses carry the same weight. In this case, the best or fastest horse will win or come very close to it.

Sure, you might get a close finish but it’s rarely between the favourite and a 40/1 horse. That’s just not how the race typically goes. So for a horse race like that, the odds for the runners will be much lower.

In 2020 Al Boum Photo was the favourite on odds of 10/3. He won as predicted and the second place was Santini on odds of 5/1. Both were so short in the betting market that an each-way bet on either would have been pointless.

So there you have it. A quick summary of what each-way betting in horse racing means. You are literally hedging your bets. You end up with more chances of making a few quid from the bookies but only in certain races.

Just remember the bigger the race, the more places get paid out. The more places, the more chances you have of picking a horse that will return you a few quid.