What is ante-post betting?

Ante-post betting is akin, in many ways, to a commodity futures contract, in which an investor agrees to buy or sell a particular commodity at a future date. Ante-post is an compound adjective, consisting the prefix ‘ante’, meaning ‘before’, and the noun ‘post’, in the sense of starting post or, in other words, the point at which a race begins. So, ante-post betting is simply betting on the outcome of a race before the runners are confirmed. It may not be for everyone, especially not cautious, risk-averse punters, but it can be tremendously rewarding.

Declarations are not finalised until 10am a day, or two, before raceday, so bookmakers may offer ante-post prices a few days or, in the case of major events, such as the Derby or the Grand National, several months in advance. To continue the commodity futures analogy, the price (i.e. the odds) and the amount (i.e. the stake) are fixed at the time an ante-post bet is struck, but beyond that there are no guarantees.

In the worst-case scenario, the horse may be withdrawn from the race in question at, or before, the final declaration stage, in which case the stake money is lost. Likewise, if the odds on offer for the selected horse skyrocket after an ante-post bet is struck, punters reap no benefit. Of course, the reverse is also true; if the odds contract sharply, as the result of other horses being withdrawn (for which, incidentally, no Rule 4 deductions are made) or subsequent events, an ante-post voucher can start to look extraordinary value for money.