What Does SP Mean in Horse Racing?


Horse race betting is one of the most popular forms of betting in the UK, and for a good reason.

And if you’re seriously considering joining that crowd, you might need to add a few words and phrases to your vocabulary.

For example, what does SP mean in horse racing?

Read on to find out.

What Does SP Mean in Horse Racing?

SP stands for starting price in horse racing. 

It indicates the available odds on a horse at the beginning of a specific race. You can also come across this term in other types of racing, like greyhound racing.

These odds are typically volatile; The prices shift in reaction to the market up to the race’s start.

Note: BSP or Betfair SP, which pundits and ITV Racing presents discuss, is different.

Related: What does NAP mean in horse racing?

How Is Starting Price Calculated?

Traditionally, the SP has been calculated based on the odds quoted by bookmakers’ on-course fixed odds at the very start of the race. Then, a panel of officials does the calculations at the race course.

In the UK, the process for each horse’s SP involves taking the starting prices provided by the bookies that are on course from lowest to higher and dividing them into equal halves. 

The SP is the shortest price in the half with the longest odds.

In the absence of on-course bookmakers, the SP is calculated by an official body at the track– The Starting Price Regulatory Commission– based on a list of online bookies.

On the other hand, BSP is calculated based on bets that are backing and laying the same horse.

What Role Does SP Play in Horse Racing?

Betting on a horse at the SP may not often be ideal for punters, but the SP is necessary for many different calculations that have to do with betting on horse races, including: 

Forecast and tricast bets

Some bookmakers use the starting price and the number of runners for payouts to punters in tricast and forecast bets.

Tote Betting

Many multi-leg Tote bets such as Scoop 6 and Placepot transfer bettors’ selection on the SP favourite if the horse they picked is declared a non-runner.

You might also be interested in Horse Racing Systems Explained

SP Betting Meaning: When Should You Use SP?

Bookmakers typically offer punters to either back the horse at the SP or take the price– which refers to backing a horse at the odds quoted when making the bet.

For most punters, there is little incentive to back a horse at SP because bookmakers offer bettors best odds guaranteed, which usually start at 9 a.m. on the day of the race.

Placing a bet with guaranteed best odds means you take the available price when making the bet. So ifu’ll get a bigger payout if the SP is bigger than the odds.

Placing a wager at SP means risking getting shorter odds than you may have if you’ve backed a horse at the quoted odds.

Backing a horse at SP may be an appealing option if you’re confident the horse will drift in the betting before the off. It’s also a better choice with bookmakers that don’t have a Best Odds Guaranteed option.

Bottom Line

In horse racing (and other forms of racing), SP stands for starting price, which reflects the available odds on a horse at the start of the race.

These odds are subject to fluctuation, and it’s used in different calculations, including for tricast race and Tote betting.


What is the difference between an early price and a starting price?

The early price refers to the fixed odds and a starting price are the odds that a horse goes off at when a race starts.

What does the SP favourite mean in horse racing?

SP favourite means that a horse refers to the favourite at the start of the race.

Why would I bet using the SP instead of fixed odds?

Betting on an SP can be beneficial if you believe that a horse’s odds will increase.

Can you make money betting at the SP?

Now that you know what does SP mean in horse racing, you can make money when betting on horse races, but you will require a good betting strategy.

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