Rule 4 Guide
Lots of us will find out some or later about Rule 4, also called R4. Sometimes we figure out the existence of Rule 4 only when we get a lower payout than expected. It is therefore essential to look into this rule and understand why it has been placed on horse racing.
Rule 4 is a deduction rule that has been placed industry-wide to regulate fairness when there are non-runners either in horse racing or greyhound racing. Although Rule 4 is generally restricted to racing, it might also be used for other markets where there is a set field of contestants, but eventually one or more are not taking part.
The rule is, therefore, a tiered reduction in the total payout amount, and it will depend on the odds price of the horse (or dog) that will withdraw from the race. In this page, we will look into this in more details so that you are entirely familiar with how this might impact your bets.
Rule 4 Explained
So let’s make an example to get the concept clearer: you bet on a horse in any field, but after the final declarations a horse is withdrawn. The price you were given initially it does not correctly reflect the probability of your horse winning. To reflect the real chances the bookmaker will, therefore, reduce the payout depending on the price of the horse that has been withdrawn.
If Non-runner Is An Underdog
If the non-runner is an underdog that has odds of 14/1 or higher, it is likely that nothing will be deducted from your winnings. If, however, the horse has a shorter price than your selection will have enhanced chances of winning and your payout will be affected. If a very strong favourite with odds of 1/9 or less is withdrawn than the deduction could be 90% of the winnings.
Rule 4 Questions
Are Any Exceptions To Rule 4?
Yes, there are as some betting sites have lower deductions. Ladbrokes for example, in addition, to have best odds guarantee on all races they are also running 0% deductions on withdrawn horses that are between 10/1 and 14/1.
The exception to rule 4 is ante-post bets: those bets are placed more than 24 hours the race will start and are not affected by the reductions. The main disadvantage though of ante-post is that if your horse does not run, you might not get the money back.
Is Rule 4 different from bookmaker to bookmaker?
There are some small differences between bookmakers in regards to how Rule 4 is applied. Differences are especially with continental betting sites that use odds as a decimal. Some betting sites also will not make any deductions if the horse has odds 10/1 instead of 14/1. It is always better to check in advance, but it is unlikely that there will be significant differences. If you want to know how prices and odds are working take a look at our betting odds guide.
How Is the Rule 4 Odds Defined?
The Rule 4 odds are determined by the odds of the non-runner horse at the time of the withdrawal. It will also depend on the original odds set up by the bookmaker for that selection. So although the deductions set by Rule 4 might be the same, the final price can be different due to the original odds set by the bookmakers.
The starting price, however, will not be affected: so if the horse is withdrawn after the SP, the starting price will be adjusted. In the same way, bets that are taken after the market was updated will not be affected as the price would have been already amended to reflect the new field.
What is Happening If More Than One Selection Is Withdrawn?
If more runners are withdrawn, then the market odds will change depending on the odds of the horses that are non-runners. From the original price, Rule 4 will be applied multiple times.
What is the Maximum Deduction of Rule 4?
If more than two horses are withdrawn, Rule 4 maximum deduction is 90% of the winnings. So even if a 15 field is reduced by 10 horses, the maximum deduction that can be made with Rule 4 is 90% of the winning. In this case, though it is possible the race would be cancelled or postponed.
Will I get a Deduction On the Stake Return Due to Rule 4?
No, the stake will always be returned in full regardless of the % deduction due to Rule 4. The stake is kept separate from the payout, and it is your money, so it is not affected. Remember that when you are placing a wager the betting site is merely holding your stake in case you lose, so if you win the bet or the bet is voided, the stake will always be refunded.
What If My Horse Places Under Rule 4?
If Rule 4 is applied, then the original prices are reduced to reflect the new field size. This will therefore also indirectly affect place prices that are made from winning prices. The number of places offered will stay the same as when you place the bet before the non-runner was announced. This is true always unless the number of places is equal or less than the number of horses that are in the field.
‘Not To Place’ Betting, Rule 4
If there are withdrawals and you have placed a bet on ‘Not to place’ the Rule 4 will lengthen the odds as you now have fewer chances of winning. Let’s say you have placed a ‘not to place’ bet in a field that has 8 horses with 3 places. If the horses are now only 7, your chances that your selection will not place is reduced: your winnings will, therefore, be increased.
Other Tattersalls Rules Of Racing
Rule 4 is called in this way as it is part of a series of 12 rules that are defined in the Tattersalls Rules of Racing. Those rules are defining how bets are handled in racing when some situations are happening. They have been around since 1866!
If a betting operator has not followed the rules of racing, you can file a complaint to the Tattersalls Committee who is fully backed by the Gambling Commission and will be able to have the last word in how the rules have been interpreted.