What Are First Past the Post Rules In Horse Racing?

“First Past the Post” is the name of a promotion or concession that various online bookmakers offer to their bettors. It provides a payout on the horse which crosses the finish line in first position, even if that horse is later disqualified or downgraded within the race.

The offer can sometimes apply to other forms of horse racing (e.g harness racing) and also greyhound racing. Certain rules surround a promotion of this nature, which we’re going to explain here.

First Past the Post Described in More Detail

winners post at cheltenhamIn horse racing, bettors will often bet on the horse they believe will win a race. In some instances, they will also make use of a First Past the Post promotion with the sportsbook as well. This guarantees a payout on the horse that does cross the finish line in first place. Yet it also acts as a sort of insurance in case anything happens to that horse after the race.

For example, let’s say that you choose the horse that does cross the line first. After the race is over, a stewards’ enquiry produces the outcome that your chosen horse interfered with the second-placed runner. This demotes your chosen horse to second place and ups the second past the post to the winning slot. In this instance, you would normally see your bet lost, because your chosen horse didn’t win the race in the end.

However, with the First Past the Post promotion, the bookmaker would still have to pay out to you, because it still past the post before any other horse.

Do Bookies Payout On The Double Result?

double result offer for horse racing

What is important to mention is that if a bookie pays out under first past the post rules they usually will not pay out on another winner if later declared. If horse A wins the race but is later disqualified awarding the win to horse B then horse B will not be paid as the winner.

We say usually because some bookies will pay out on both horse A and B if this happens.  This is often referred to as the double result offer.  It doesn’t really cost the bookies that much to pay out on both as after all it isn’t a common occurrence – well, unless it happens in something like the Grand National!

Where Can I Get a First Past the Post Promotion?

man holding question mark signs up

This is a question that many people ask after seeing details of this type of promotion. There are a few online sportsbooks that include it as part of their regular promotional offers. It is not common at on-course racetracks. It is much more of an online feature to take advantage of when possible.

You can visit the Promotions page of any online sports betting site to see what is available. If First Past the Post is something offered, it will often be displayed there.  Otherwise check the terms and conditions or betting rules of your sportsbook.

When Does First Past the Post Not Apply?

rules and regulationsThere are certain circumstances when the First Past the Post offer won’t come into effect, even if it seems as though it should. These are the instances where the promotion will not apply to the situation:

  • In the case that any horse is disqualified because they did not “weigh in” correctly.
  • In the case that any horse is disqualified because they have taken the “wrong course”.
  • When an official correction to the result by a judge or SIS occurs before the “weigh in”.
  • If any race is declared void prior to the “weigh in” for which the Rules of Racing will apply.
  • Any race that is declared void at any time.
  • Bets which rely on Tote Dividends i.e. Jackpots.
  • Horses declared as disqualified during the race (in Trotting).

An Example of “First Past the Post”

horses jumping over a fence with bet365 sponsor branding
Carine06 from UK, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There is a simple example that can be taken to further explain the rules surrounding this promotion. If you look back to December of 2017, runner Min was sent off the 2/7 favourite in the Paddy’s Rewards Club Chase (Grade 1). On the run in, the horse continually edged left, which hampered runner Simply Ned. The latter of those horses came in second; beaten by half a length. Min was first past the post.

Following a Stewards’ Enquiry, which took quite a long time, Simply Ned was upgraded to winner, with Min demoted to second place after a disqualification.

Any online bookmaker providing the First Past the Post promotion would have paid out on both Simply Ned and Min as winners. The former as the eventual winner following the enquiry, and the latter as the first horse to pass the post.

Does It Apply To Sports Other Than Horse Racing?

sports psychologyFirst past the post concessions usually apply to horse racing and maybe also greyhound racing.  In theory it could apply to any sport where there is a finishing line and a winner.  For example, formula 1.  Here there can be a race winner that is later disqualified or demoted due to a penalty, promoting another winner.

Generally in other sports you will be paid on the official result,  For example if a driver is disqualified or receives a penalty in the likes of F1 then the bet won’t be paid as a winner, although bets on the the driver that is promoted to winner will be paid out.

In the case of F1 you will be paid out on those that finish on the podium.  If a driver isn’t disqualified or demoted before the podium ceremony it will still be paid out, e.g. if a few days later the driver is disqualified and you have been paid out on your bet that is fine.

It is always worth checking the rules for each sport although generally first past the post will only apply to horse racing not things like motor sports, athletics and other races.