One of the great joys of sports betting is placing an “ante-post” or “futures” bet at a big price, watching the odds shrink in the weeks leading up to the event and then seeing your selection win.
An ante-post bet can leave you bursting with hope and anticipation for several weeks, or even months, and it comes with the added satisfaction of knowing you’ve beaten the bookie if your selection wins at a shorter price than the one you took.
Online betting sites such as 32Red, Sportsbet and CrownBet offer a wide range of ante-post betting markets across a variety of sports, and horse racing is one of the best opportunities to place some ante-post wagers.
But, like with every type of bet that you place, there are potential downsides to playing the ante-post market, so let’s take a look at the pros and cons of such an approach.
As already briefly outlined, the major positive to betting ante-post is the possibility of backing a selection at a much bigger price than the final odds. This could be for a major horse race, a golf or tennis tournament, or the premiership in AFL, rugby league etc.
With each of these sports and scenarios, the value that you get from backing ante-post will vary. Taking a horse race such as the Melbourne Cup for example, if you’ve done your early research and think a particular horse has a great chance in the race, you’ll take the plunge at a big price. If it subsequently wins another race en route to the Melbourne Cup, like the Caulfield Cup, then the horse’s price is going to shorten up and, come the day of the race, it will be shorter than the odds you’ve backed it at.
In a golf tournament, your ante-post bet will essentially be before the start of the first round and you know that, if your selection has a strong first round, then the price will contract. Likewise in a tennis tournament, the further your selection progresses, the shorter the price is going to be, so you’re in a strong position.
Obviously, you still need your selection to win, but that is the other positive to backing ante-post. When the price shortens, you can then lay the selection at the shorter price to guarantee yourself a profit irrespective of whether the selection then wins the tournament or race.
In some ways, the negatives for betting ante-post do outweigh the positives, especially if you’re not looking to lay your selection at any stage to lock in a profit.
With a race such as the Melbourne Cup, if you’re looking through the odds at 32Red and backing a selection a few months in advance of the first Tuesday in November, then there is so much that can happen in the interim to affect your prospects of getting paid out.
One of the big things which could affect your Melbourne Cup fancy, for example, is the weight allocated to a horse. Now it’s probably fair to have assumed that last year’s winner Protectionist would be around about top weight, but you may not have anticipated the same about Snow Sky. The British horse has yet to win a Group One race and so it may have been logical to assume Snow Sky wouldn’t be joint top weight for the Melbourne Cup. That has significant implications to its chances.
Of course, your selection could also pick up an injury in the build-up to the race and not run at all. Or have a poor run or two in between you backing it ante-post and the race itself which ensures the horse again doesn’t turn up. There are few more frustrating things in betting than thinking you’ve got a really good ante-post bet, only for it to not then even make the starting line. If you’re lucky, you may have found a bookmaker who will deal on non-runner, no bet terms, but in most cases you will lose your wager.
With horse racing as well, you’ve got to factor in other unknown elements, such as the barrier draw. In big-field handicaps, an outside draw could completely ruin a horse’s chances, but two months in advance you don’t know what barrier the horse is going to come out of. Likewise, a sudden downpour of rain on the day of the race can turn the ground soft and it again wrecks your horse’s chances.
These are just some of the pitfalls to ante-post betting, but then that’s also why you usually get better odds months in advance. There’s so much which can go wrong between placing your bet and the event.
However, on those occasions when the ante-post bet does come good, it’s a feeling which is hard to beat and makes up for those ones that got away.
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