As the name suggests, a non-runner is a horse that has been put forward at an event but ends up failing to race. This can be for any number of reasons, but the result will be the same regardless; your bet will be declared as void (no longer valid) and your stake will be returned to you. While disappointing, a non-runner can cause frustration when it is part of an accumulator bet or an ante-post bet and can disrupt and downgrade a carefully constructed chain.
When a horse of a particular calibre fails to race, this has a knock-on effect for other runners taking part and can lead to what known as deductions. These are classed under the umbrella of ‘Rule 4’ for Tattersall’s Rule of Racing which state that if a horse withdraws after final declarations have been made any and all bets for the race will be reduced by a certain amount on each pound according to an agreed table.
As the removal of one horse affects the odds of the other horses winning and make it more likely for another horse to place, this helps adjust winnings accordingly. A full list of deductions is available from Tattersall and – depending on how you have chosen to play your stakes – non-runners and deductions can either see your money returned to you, your winning stake reduced or lost entirely.
What Is A Deduction or Non-Runner In Horse Racing?
Let’s take the example of you and your two friends deciding to place a bet on the Grand National. After chatting to the barman, you hear a tip off that at 8/1 ‘Certain Frustration’ has been showing good form recently and is well worth a punt. All of you are fairly knowledgeable about horses but have different opinions about how your stakes should be laid out. So, you decide to go with the following:
You decide to place a triple accumulator on three races, the second of which places money on ‘Certain Frustration’ to see a nice return if all horses come through.
However, your first friend decides to place two £10 bets against two horses. Not believing that she can trust the tip, she avoids ‘Certain Frustration’ and instead chooses two others called ‘Unfortunate Loss’ and ‘Reduced Earnings’.
Your second friend makes a different choice entirely and decides to dip into the ante-post market and places a £10 bet on ‘Certain Frustration’ at better odds a day before the event.
You then meet to watch the event and soon hear terrible news, ‘Certain Frustration’ has baulked and refuses to enter his stall. The horse is then declared a non-runner and you know that Rule 4 Deductions will come into play, with each of you being affected in different ways due to the bets you have chosen to place.
As you have chosen to place an accumulator, the non-runner causes your second accumulator bet to be declared void. Your stake is returned to you and your triple accumulator changes to a double accumulator instead.
Your first friend also has her bets affected by the adjustment. As ‘Certain Frustration’ was placed at 8/1 odds, this falls within the cut-off criteria for applying Rule 4 of anything that is under 14/1 odds. She then knows that her two bets will see a reduction of 10p out of £1 she has have placed if they come through for her.
Unfortunately, as your second friend chose to place their bet in the ante-post market, the non-runner result means that his bet will be not refunded for the stake and his money is lost entirely.
What to Bear In Mind
– There’s nothing you can do about it: Unfortunately, when non-runners are declared after final prices are set there is little that you can do about it as part of your strategy process. If you do want to factor non-runners into your plan, you should make sure that you have an awareness of the price differential that may take place in the event of withdrawal.
– Know the risks when placing ante-post bets: Always make sure to check the rules before you place any of your bets to see if ‘No Runner – No Bet’ or ‘Ante Post Rules Apply’ restrictions are in place for the event and then plan accordingly.
– Factor this in: While non-runners can cause some frustration for punters placing standard bets, it can be crippling if you have chosen multiple accumulators that depend on a single horse to come through. It’s therefore critical that you’re aware of the health and form of the animal and jockey before the event and placing your punt.
– Biggest risk: Because of the way the rules are enforced, you can be unlucky enough to find yourself in a situation where the Rule 4 reduction can be carried out multiple times which then results in a compound loss to your stake. Normally, bookies will apply the amount of the reductions against the date and time when you originally placed your bet, rather than at the time of reduction but this is often worth double-checking when punting for the first time with a group. For example: If two horses are withdrawn from an event, the costs stack. If one horse results in a 10p reduction and the second results in a 50p reduction, the total loss on any pay-outs will be calculated as 60p per £1 on the race. However, if you placed your bet earlier this can mean that you will be able to avoid cumulative costs if multiple horses leave the event and drive the odds of other competitors up.
– Online odds: It is becoming increasingly common for online bookmakers to waive the lower end of the scale 5p reduction if Rule 4 comes into play. You can check if this is the case by reading any of the rules/fine print on the T&C’s section of the site or inquiring directly.