What exactly is Rule 4 in the world of Horse Racing?

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A number of our members may have already come across Rule 4 in Horse and Dog racing and maybe wondering exactly what it is. Well, in this blog we’ll attempt to explain it as clearly as possible.

Rule 4 is an industry-standard deduction that is made on a horse or dog when there is a non-runner in a race after the final declarations for that race have been made and you have taken a fixed odds price.

For example, if you have £10 win on a horse and take 5/1 (6.0 in decimal odds) and the 2/1 (3.0) favourite then becomes a non-runner, your 5/1 (6.0) is looking very generous.

On markets on the day of a race anyone who backs a non-runner will get their stakes refunded. Those people who backed the 2/1 (3.0) shot will have their money refunded and therefore Rule 4 exists to make a deduction from your bet on the 5/1 (6.0) shot. This is because if the 2/1 (3.0) favourite had not been in the betting for the race when you placed your bet your 5/1 (6.0) shot may have been, say 3/1 (4.0).

Rule 4 deductions will only occur after the final declarations for a race are made. This is when non-runners mean you get your stake back. Rule 4 does not apply to any ante-post market. Ante-post or futures markets are betting on a horse race before the final declarations are known. If you back a non-runner in an ante-post market then you do not get your money back so obviously no Rule 4 is applied to the people who are holding bets on horses that benefit from this non-runner.

Below are the official Tattersalls Rule 4 deductions, as applied by all UK bookies:

a) If the current odds of the non-runner are 1.11 or shorter at the time the non-runner withdraws from the race, then 90p in £/E/$ is deducted (or 90% of winnings)

b) If over 1.18 up to and including 1.12, 85% of winnings deducted

c) If over 1.25 up to and including 1.20, 80% of winnings deducted

d) If over 1.30 up to & including 1.29, 70% of winnings deducted

e) If over 1.4 up to and including 1.33, 65% of winnings deducted

f) If over 1.53 up to and including 1.45, 60% of winnings deducted

g) If over 1.62 up to and including 1.57, 55% of winnings deducted

h) If over 1.8 up to and including 1.66, 50% of winnings deducted

i) If over 1.95 up to and including 1.83, 45% of winnings deducted

j) If over 2.0 up to and including 2.20, 40% of winnings deducted

k) If over 2.25 up to and including 2.50, 35% of winnings deducted

l) If over 2.6 up to and including 2.75, 30% of winnings deducted

m) If over 2.8 up to and including 3.25, 25% of winnings deducted

n) If over 4.20 up to and including 5.0, 20% of winnings deducted

o) If over 5.50 up to and including 6.50, 15% of winnings deducted

p) If over 7.00 up to and including 10.00, 10% of winnings deducted

q) If over 11.00 up to and including 15.00, 5% of winnings deducted

r) If the non-runner is over 15.00 then there is no deduction

In the event of there being two or more withdrawals in one event, the total deduction shall not exceed 90p in £ (or 90% of the winnings). The Rule 4 deduction is not applied to the winning client’s returned stake, only to their winnings.

Now as matched bettors this is not something you should lose sleep over. The important thing to remember is that this rule is applied to both the bookmakers and the betting exchanges. Meaning you will never be in the position of having a winnings reduction on one half of your bet that is not balanced out on the other half. However, what it will mean is that if Rule 4 is activated on a race in which you have a chosen horse, it can result in a reduced profit overall.

Unfortunately, there is not much you can do about this. Fortunately, it is very rare to incur any serious reduction, as it is often the underdogs (priced at odds over 15.00) who pull out of races, which result in no deductions.

That said, it is important you understand this process, because it is going to be the central talking point of our next blog. Which will look at how some unscrupulous bookmakers are looking to make the most of this rule.