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Rule 4 for non-starters in horse races

In Great Britain this has been the case since 1886 Tattersalls Committee for nationwide uniform betting rules for horse racing and settles disputes between bookmakers and their customers, which concern the settlement of bets.

The Rule 4 is one of a total of 12 rules that British bookmakers, although they are not expressly obliged to, orient themselves to and can rely on the tipsters.

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Among other things, it stipulates how bets that have already been placed are to be dealt with if a starter is withdrawn from the race at short notice after he has already been officially confirmed. This aspect is usually also meant when of the Rule 4 the speech is.

The problem of non-runners for bets that have already been submitted

The final field of participants is usually determined and announced a few days before the race. From this point on, bookmakers open the corresponding betting market or, if it was already available as an ante post bet, transfer the offer to the shorter-term advance program.

If a horse is now removed from the starting list, for example because it has been injured, both tipsters and betting providers are faced with a problem.

Customers who have placed their money on the same non-starter are faced with the question of what happens to their bet. The Rule 4 states in this regard that the bet amounts are to be reimbursed by the betting provider.

This only does not apply if the tip was submitted in the long-term betting market, i.e. before the field of participants was confirmed. In this case, the customer bears the risk of tips that are already uncertain in view of the still unclear starter list.

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This results in an imbalance on the part of the bookmaker: The original odds, which had been calculated on the basis of the larger starting field, would now disadvantage him economically because the chances of winning have changed due to the cancellation of a participant.

The offer is naturally simply recalculated for future bets, but what happens to tips that were already placed at the (then) fixed rate? That is also what she thinks Rule 4 a solution ready.

Cashback for non-runners leads to profit cuts

So that the bookmaker does not remain at his disadvantage after he has reimbursed non-starter tips, the odds of the other tips are corrected retrospectively.

Strictly speaking, the correction is not made to the odds, but the betting winnings distributed after the race are provided with percentage discounts. In the end, of course, it comes down to the same thing.

These reductions take into account whether the withdrawn starter was a favorite or an outsider in the original constellation of the field of participants.

It depends on how much the chances of winning other tips change. The biggest impact is, of course, when a favorite starter drops out of the race. This increases the chances of all other participants to win much more.

Note: As long as he was still registered, the quota of the non-starter was naturally subject to fluctuations. Therefore, the rate that was most recently set, i.e. immediately at the time of deletion, is decisive for the amount of the discount.

If your own tip turns out to be successful in the end, you have to reckon with the discounts shown in the following table, in concrete terms. Depending on which fixed rate was set for the non-runner (see left column in the table), the profit reduction noted in the right column results.

Rule 4 in Germany, Switzerland & Austria

In the UK and Ireland, that counts Rule 4 the general standard among bookmakers. If it is not used, customers must be explicitly informed of this - this applies at least to the racetracks.

In any case, it is anchored in the terms and conditions of the British online bookmakers Bet365, Betfair, Ladbrokes and William Hill, which are known in this country.

It therefore also applies to bets from customers in the DACH region - provided that horse bets are also available from the respective provider from German-speaking countries.

Starting from the British Isles, the Rule 4 meanwhile also largely established in the rest of Europe. A German provider that takes them into account is Racebets, for example.

In the case of the bookie, the no-runner rule even comes into play in connection with races at German racetracks. It has not given up its name: it is also in the German sportsbooks as Tattersalls ‘Rule 4 known.


The Rule 4 deals with the question of how to deal with fixed price bets on horse races whose field of participants is affected by short-term cancellations. In horse racing this is a very common problem caused by the Rule 4 should be turned off.

It is important that this only concerns bets that were placed when the starters had already been officially confirmed (Ante Post bets are excluded from Rule 4).

If such a deletion occurs, according to the Rule 4 all bets that are attributable to the non-runner are returned to the tipsters. In return, betting winnings from this betting offer are subject to a percentage reduction.

If the non-starter was calculated as an outsider, the discount will be smaller, since the influence - whether the participant drops out or starts - is estimated to be less on the outcome of the race.

Originally it is the Rule 4 an agreement between British bookmakers, meanwhile it is increasingly being used by providers from Germany or when betting on German races.

To be sure if the Rule 4 applies, it pays to look up the terms and conditions or the betting rules of the respective bookmaker.

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About the author

After completing her studies, Dani initially worked for a full-service media agency before she discovered sport and sports betting by chance in 2012. She now knows the industry in all its facets. Her particular preference is to deal with new topics, which is why she prefers to deal with strategies, other sports betting know-how and new betting providers.