What Does “Bar” Mean In Horse Racing? 

 July 3, 2023

By  Philip Borrowman

In horse racing, the term "bar" is often used in betting contexts. When you see odds such as "14/1 bar", it means that the odds are 14/1 for the horses most favored to win, and all the other horses are at odds of 14/1 or longer (i.e., less favored).

In other words, the "bar" serves as a benchmark or cutoff point for the odds, separating favorites from longshots. It doesn't specifically refer to a physical object or place in horse racing.

Let's illustrate this with a practical example:

Suppose we have a horse race with ten runners. The betting market is presented as "14/1 bar". This means that the bookmaker has decided that some horses are more likely to win and has given them odds shorter than 14/1.

For example, the three horses that the bookmaker considers the most likely to win could have odds of 6/1, 8/1, and 10/1. These are the favorites for the race.

The term "14/1 bar" means that every other horse in the race has odds of at least 14/1.

So, the remaining seven horses in the race could have odds of 14/1, 15/1, 20/1, 25/1, 30/1, 40/1, and 50/1. These horses are less favored to win according to the bookmaker.

So, the "bar" acts as a dividing line in the odds, separating the favorites (with shorter odds than 14/1) from the longshots (with odds of 14/1 or longer).

What are other terms similar to "bar" used in horse racing betting?

Several other terms are used that may serve similar functions to "bar" in communicating information about odds, bets, and race outcomes. Here are a few examples:

  • Odds-On: This means that a horse is considered so likely to win that a successful bet on that horse will pay out less than the original stake. For example, if a horse is at odds of 1/2, you would need to bet £2 to win £1.
  • Evens or Even Money: This is when the potential winnings are the same as the amount staked. In other words, if you bet £1, you could win £1.
  • Long Odds: This is when the odds are high, typically because the horse is not expected to win. It's the opposite of being odds-on.
  • Short Odds: These are low odds where the potential payout is less than that of a high-odds bet because the outcome is viewed as more likely.
  • Starting Price (SP): This is the price of each horse at the start of the race. It's often used as the official odds if no other odds have been selected.
  • Each Way (E/W): This is a bet on a horse to either win or place in a race. The number of places that pay out can depend on the number of horses in the race, and it is typically less than the win payout.
  • Ante-Post: These are bets placed in advance of the race day, often with more generous odds, but with the risk that if the horse does not run, the stake is lost.

You can refer to our A-Z Of Horse Trading Glossary for a full list of confusing horse racing terms you need to learn to become a profitable trader on Betfair.

Philip Borrowman


I am a full-time marketer and part-time Betfair trader. I have over 10 years of experience in the pre-race and in-play horse trading markets and spend my days writing guides, tips and tricks to help beginner Betfair traders find their way to a profitable second income. Read my story of trading on Betfair.

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