What is Non-Runner Betting? Guide to Non Runner Betting

Here is a quick guide to everything you need to know about non-runner betting in Ireland.


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What are non-runners?

Non-runner is a term most commonly used in horse race gambling and refers to a horse that doesn’t end up running in the race.

Here are some reasons that might mean a horse can no longer run in a race:

  1. Injury

This would mean the horse could not physically run in the race as a result of injury or illness.

  1. Track conditions

If the conditions on race day mean the horse is unable to race on the track, it is in the best interest of the horse and trainer to deem the horse a non-runner.

  1. Travel issues

Sometimes horses may struggle to reach race day due to transport issues. Indeed, horses usually need to be moved in special transport vehicles, and if there are any issues with this, it could mean they are unable to take part in the race.

  1. Jockey illness

Similar to point number one, if the jockey is unable to ride the horse on race day, the horse will usually not be able to compete. Even if they are able to find any other jockey to race, the horse may still be deemed a non-runner.

  1. Distance

Horses are typically trained and prepared for a certain distance, so if on race day it turns out they have been entered in a race that is not suitable for the horse, They will again be deemed non-runners.

  1. Recent form

If the horse has not been performing well lately, the trainer has the option to withdraw the horse from the race. This is usually done to give the horse time to rest and better prepare for future races.

  1. Tactical decisions

Similar to the above point, the jockey can always withdraw the horse if they deem it necessary. For instance, if the trainer wants to save the horse’s energy for another race,

  1. Issues with documents

Horses will normally be required to have a set of documents and a licence to compete in the races. If there are any issues with said documents, this could impact the horse’s ability to race.

While these are a few examples of horses that will be deemed non-runners, others may surface.

Other sporting non-runners

While you may be used to seeing the term non-runner crop up with horses racing, The term can be used in other sports too. Below, we discuss some of the instances in which you may be presented with a non-runner in other betting sports.

  • Greyhound racing

Just as you would expect with horse racing, the same applies to greyhound racing. Sometimes the greyhounds will not be able to race as a result of the issues discussed with horse racing.

  • Athletics

When it comes to sports where athletes are racing, they may also be deemed non-runners due to circumstances. This could be due to withdrawals caused by various issues or being unable to qualify for a certain betting market.

  • Team sports

A non-runner may be widely applied to team sports where a team can no longer compete. While they may not be referred to as a non-runners as found in horse racing, similar rules apply.

  • Motor racing

It can be common in motor racing events, such as F1 racing, that a team and car cannot take part in the race due to issues with the car or driver. In these circumstances, the driver of the car would be deemed a non-runner, as they cannot compete in the race.

What happens with bets on non-runners?

As you can imagine, this can cause quite a few issues, concerns, and frustrations if betters have already wagered on the horse or racer in question.

If this is the case, then the betting site has a few possibilities:

  • Refunds: Perhaps the most obvious outcome of a non-runner is for the bookie in the Irish marker to simply refund your bet. This will often be placed back on your credit card. Therefore, you can spend this bet on another market so you don’t miss out.
  • Resettlement: This is another outcome that occurs if the non-runner you wagered on impacts other bets you have placed. This most commonly happens if the non-runner is part of an accumulator bet. Consequently, the betting site may reset the bet so the non-runner bet on the betting slip is just shown as a winning bet and doesn’t impact the overall betting slip.
  • Replacement: This occurs if the non-runner situation applies outside of horse racing and perhaps in regards to a team or individual player sport. This is where someone else will replace said racer, and therefore your bet will be switched to wager on the new substitute. While this has its obvious disadvantages, as you may be unsure about the new racer and less informed, it is better than totally disarranging your bet.
  • Dead heat: sometimes, if a horse or more cannot compete in the horse race, all the other horses may be rewarded with a win, and the non-runner will not be counted. Therefore, anyone else who has bet on a horse will receive a win.
  • Ante-post bets: in some instances, a non-runner could just be cancelled. This means no refund or anything will be rewarded, and instead the horse bet will simply fail. Evidently, this is the worst-case scenario, which makes it important to always consider the betting site’s terms and conditions to avoid being surprised if this is the outcome.
  • Market-specific rules: some sports may approach the situation of a non-runner differently. For example, if a non-runner in golf wins, the betting site may likely refund the bet compared to other sports.

It is important to read the betting site’s terms and conditions with regards to non-runners. This ensures that if this happens to you, you will be aware of how the betting site will approach the situation.

Non-runners and Rule 4

Rule 4 is an alternative outcome bookies can impose for non-runners in a betting market.

So what is Rule 4?

This occurs when a horse can no longer race, so rule 4 means the bookie will adjust the odds of those horses who are still racing. This is good because it helps re-proportion the odds to the other horses as a result of race changes.

Advantages of Rule 4

  • Fair outcome: the rule 4 solution is beneficial for players because it keeps the market fair despite the changes in line-up. The adjusted odds reflect the race now that the horse is no longer running, which means those who wagered on other horses are not disadvantaged because of a non-runner in the event.
  • Better odds: Rule 4 alters the odds to reflect the new line-up with the remaining horses; therefore, the odds change to reflect this. Consequently, the odds are better because they reflect the new race, which is good for those betting on other horses.
  • Protection: When it comes to non-runners, many worry about the players betting on the non-runner; however, Rule 4 covers those betting on other horses. Therefore, this reflects the new race and protects other people from a change in circumstance.
  • Standardisation: Rule 4 provides a safety net for non-runners to prevent them from impacting other bets and the race itself. Therefore, it provides consistency for betters by altering the odds to reflect the new race line-up.

How to claim the Rule 4 outcome

The best part is that players won’t need to do anything as the bookies will automatically adjust the odds according to the announced non-runner. While you don’t have to do anything yourself, it is always good to stay informed of the circumstances. For example, the betting site may send out a notification informing players that a non-runner has been announced and that Rule 4 has been applied.

How to check if a betting site offers Rule 4

Since the betting site implements Rule 4 automatically, you might want to check that this is something they offer beforehand. There are a few ways to check this. For example, it should be stated in their terms and conditions. If not, there could be features in the site’s FAQ section or dedicated help page. If you still have no luck, try asking their support team.

FAQ on non-runner betting

Here are some frequently asked questions when it comes to non-runners in Ireland.

How do I know what the betting site will do to my bet if my horse is deemed a non-runner?You should check the terms and conditions of the site or the horse betting requirements before placing a bet. This way, you already know what the betting site will do if your horse is deemed a non-runner. Although, if you are still not sure, you can try asking their support team or looking on their help page.
How are Rule 4 odds changes calculated by the betting site?This depends on the betting site; they will likely simply recalculate the odds if the non-runner was not involved in the first place to keep the odds fair. Also, another way they go about it is by redacting the odds given to the non-runner.
Can a non-runner impact my accumulator bet?It is important to read the terms and conditions of the accumulator bet before placing it, as they will usually outline them beforehand. If not, the usual and best scenario is that the betting site settles the bet as if the bet itself won, so it will not impact or harm the rest of your betting slip.
Are non-runners common in betting?With sports such as horse betting, non-runners should be expected. Therefore, there are multiple factors that can impact the horse’s ability to race.
Will non-runners impact more than one betting market?Non-runners can influence many markets; any markets that the race influences will be impacted by the non-runner. Although whether or not this impacts the odds and outcomes of indirectly affected markets depends on the betting site itself, this will usually be outlined in the terms and conditions. Nevertheless, it is always expected with sports like horse racing that some horses will have to withdraw, sometimes at the last minute, making it part of the betting risk.
How can I avoid betting on a non-runner?Not all non-runners are easy to predict, and sometimes they cannot be helped. However, using resources and keeping an eye on media news, outlets, and social media for any news on the horses or jockeys could help you predict the likelihood of a non-runner. Also, you can try to consider the horse’s previous races to assess their form and whether they were weak or recently injured.
How will the betting site inform me that the horse I bet on is now a non-runner?Most betting sites should try to get back to you quickly and before the race happens, so you are aware of the non-runner. Although sometimes the non-runner is announced quite close to the starting point of the race, this is often something that cannot be helped. Therefore, it is important to keep an eye on information around the race beforehand to stay up-to-date with anything happening. None the less, a betting site should aim to notify you through notifications on your emails or texts, so keep an eye on your device before the race.
Can I place a bet on a known non-runner?This is usually not something you will be able to do since the non-runners are not actually competing. However, some betting sites could open special markets for non-runners or predict any non-runners, which may make for interesting bets.