When deciding where to bet, the most recognisable part of on-course gambling is the betting ring. It is made up of two areas of bookmakers: the ‘boards’ and the ‘rails’. The boards are those bookmakers who stand solely in the Grandstand section of the racecourse. The rails bookmakers are also situated in the Grandstand but bet against the rail between the Members and Grandstand enclosures (hence the name).

Up to a few years ago ‘rails’ bookmakers could only bet looking into the Members’ enclosure but with recent changes to the ring they can now offer odds to Grandstand punters as well as those in Members’. Most high street bookmakers such as William Hill, Stan James, and Coral will have representatives on the rails.

Gambling in the betting ring is mostly on win singles. If you fancy a particular horse you go to one of the bookmakers, make your selection and hand over the money. In recent alterations all ring bookmakers are duty bound to use computerised systems, which now include print outs of bets. Prior to these changes you simply received a card with no information on it about the bet you had (the card had a number which referred to your bet in the bookmaker’s ledger).

Some ring bookmakers accept each-way bets – but not all – and look out for minimum bet restrictions. Some may not accept bets less than five pounds. If you are lucky enough to have backed a winner it is better to give it a little time before returning to the bookmaker. They are not duty bound to payout until the weighed-in signal is sounded.

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