Forecast bets are popular throughout the world as a way to bet on just one event, but with more than one horse involved.
They are understandably much harder to win, but pay larger returns and are commonly used in conjunction with heavy favourites.
But as with most things in the betting world there are plenty of options to choose from including straight forecasts (first and second), reverse forecasts (first and second in any order) and for the adventurous among you, tricasts (first, second and third).
Forecast Bets (First & Second)
The traditional forecast tasks a punter with naming the first two horses home in the correct order. Also known as an exacta, this is a hugely popular bet and can produce big rewards for those who get it right, especially in the big handicaps where even the favourites are a large price.
There simply isn’t a hard and fast way of explaining the calculations used in forecast betting. The mathematical formula is a very complex one consisting of such elements as the official starting price of the horses involved, the number of runners, whether there is a short-priced favourite and much more.
Another version of this bet, with an even more complicated and undisclosed mathematical formula is the Computer Straight Forecast. The betting rules are the same as the ordinary Straight Forecast, however bookmakers use other unknown factors in their algorithm to protect themselves and although the amounts are broadly similar, the dividend offered for the CSF and those for the exacta usually differ ever so slightly.
The reverse/reversed forecast is a bet offered by bookmakers involving punters picking the first two horses home, this time in any order. This bet costs twice the normal stake as effectively two straight forecasts are being placed on one bet. The same, somewhat secretive and confusing, calculations are used for this bet.
In principle, this is the same as a reverse forecast but with one more selection added. Picking three horses, the punter now has six combinations of first and second as possibilities and therefore pays six times the stake. Only one can be right of course, so a punter must remember that at least five of their six bets in this combination have to lose.
Tricast Bets (First, Second & Third)
In races of six runners or more, a Tricast can be placed in which the punter must name the first three horses home and all in the correct order. This is a very difficult bet to get right, though the rewards for doing so match the difficulty.
Some bookmakers will also offer a Combination Tricast in which you can name up to 6 selections with as many as 120 bets. It must always be remembered that in combination forecasts, many bets are being placed but only one can possibly win, so punters must always weigh up whether the potential rewards justify the extra stakes.
Should a gambler wish to name four horses over two events, i.e. pick two Straight Forecasts, some bookmakers will allow those two bets to be placed as a win double. So, should the first forecast be successful with a dividend of, say £50, this stake would go onto the next forecast. Should that be successful at £12, the return for the double would be £650 for a £1 stake.
Pro’s & Con’s of Forecast & Tricast Bets
The negatives of forecast and tricast betting is that, for those rewards to be large, you will most likely need to be trying to solve a large field handicap where there are all sorts of mitigating factors. Doing this is extremely challenging and it must be remembered that, because of industry specific software being used, a punter cannot accurately calculate for themselves what these potential rewards will even be.
The positive side is that, because the rewards are so large when you win, smaller stakes can be risked. A punter can accept that they will incur several losses on these types of bets but when one is eventually landed it should more than compensate for the others.
Equally, it can be argued that betting on a forecast is better and safer than taking a win double bet, as you will deal with only one set of variables, such as ground, pace, number of runners etc. Often punters will decide there are two horses they really like in a race and cannot split them. Rather than leave the bet alone altogether, back the two horses in a straight or reverse forecast at lower stakes may well be the way to go.