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A Punters’ Guide to the Rule 4 Deduction

A Punters’ Guide to the Rule 4 Deduction


Horse Racing in Wales” by Paul (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Rule 4 deduction in horse racing is something that many struggle to come to terms with, but one that both experienced and casual bettors need to at least have a basic understanding of. The rule is applied when a horse withdraws from a race in which a horse you have backed wins or is placed. The exact amount of the deduction varies depending on the early odds of those horses to have withdrawn.

Rule 4 deductions have always been a part of racing, although they are now more prominent due to punters taking an early price more often – largely in part to ‘best odds guaranteed’ promotions available with many different bookmakers. Those who bet at SP will rarely be affected by this, unless a horse withdraws close to the start of a race at a point where it is too late to open a new market.

Working out the exact deduction to be applied can be tricky, but there are many bet calculators out there to help you out. For instance, Racing Post’s Guide to Racing has a number of tools for punters, and included amongst them is a list of online betting calculators.

Chester Racecourse” by John Turner (CC BY-SA 2.0)

If a Rule 4 deduction involves a favourite, the consequences can be quite significant for bettors. This race at York from last season is a prime example of how a Rule 4 can really affect your winnings. Two horses were withdrawn at the start, and while this is a rare occurrence, it can happen. With one being the favourite, the Rule 4 deduction made on this race was 45p. That means, for every £1 of profit you make from your bet on this race, the bookmaker takes back 45p to adjust the prices on offer.

The winner of the race was Threading, who was the 7/2 second-favourite in the ante-post markets. Had the bookmakers had chance to create a new market without the two withdrawn runners, Threading would have been priced up at much shorter odds, and so the deduction reflects the price he would have been had a new betting market been available.

It is vital that punters know when this is coming, and understand that their winnings will be lower. Had a punter had an initial return of £10 profit this race, they would have only received £5.50 of their winnings after the rule was applied.

While it may initially seem unfair, the deduction is designed to balance out the betting market and the advantage you would have otherwise had over the bookmaker. For example, if you back a horse at 7/1 and the favourite is withdrawn from that race, your horse suddenly has a much better chance of winning. Consequently, the Rule 4 deduction is an artificial way of shortening the prices in the betting, to try to even things up for both bookmakers and bettors.

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