What Does Starting Price (SP) Mean in Betting?

sp black and white logoIf you bet on horse racing or greyhound racing, then you will be familiar with the term SP. To begin with, SP stand for ‘Starting Price’. This is the price that is returned, the final price before the race starts, and the name comes from it being the price at the start of the race.

Some people confuse this a little because they think the starting price is the first price that was available when essentially it is the last. That isn’t the case, it is the price when the event starts and is the first part of understanding the SP that you need to know.

Understanding the SP in Betting

bookmaker racecard showing sp

It is fair to say that the SP doesn’t have anywhere near the kind of impact on the betting industry as it once did, and people talk about it far less. However, it is still important to know about it, understand how it works, and, importantly, how you can use it when you asses a race.

Previously, on course, bookmakers were solely responsible for the returning SP, but that is no longer the case. This is now a system that combines both online and on course bookmakers to create a final SP that is used in the industry.

The way in which this system works is broadly in line with how the SP system worked in the past. Prices are taken at the time of the off from several different sources, and a medium price is worked out between them, which is recorded as the SP. This is to give an industry-wide price for the runner, using data available at the time.

The fact that the majority of people bet online and have the best odds guaranteed attached to their wagers takes away the choice of taking a price or SP, so the SP isn’t as important now. However, of course, thanks to the best odds guaranteed promotion from many bookmakers, if you take a price and the SP returned is greater, you will be paid at SP, so it is certainly something worth looking out for.

Is the SP Still Relevant in Betting?

best price stampRelevant, yes, but as important now than it was in the past, certainly not. The only people who have a high dependency on the SP now are those who are unable to get the best odds guaranteed offer from their bookmaker. This offer has really taken away the importance and value placed upon the SP.

Of course, having the promotion means you will constantly look out for the SP because if it is bigger than the price you have taken, then you are going to be paid out at that, so people still need to know what it is. However, with a price locked in beforehand, the returns are set and can only get bigger, depending on the SP.

In the past, punters had the conundrum of taking an early morning price or choosing SP, so of course, the SP was far more important, as it was what many people placed their bets at. Few decided to go down the morning price route unless they knew a horse would be backed, but now, the majority take the morning price, locking it in as a minimum return.

When to Bet at SP?

bookmaker writing odds up on a board at race courseIn terms of when you should bet at SP, instead of taking a price, this is only relevant for those without best odds guaranteed. If you have best odds guaranteed, you cannot lose by taking the price at the time you place your bet, so you should always do that.

For those without the ability to use that promotion, a decision needs to be made, and there are a few factors you need to consider.

The first is around the current price. Check out what other bookmakers are offering as if you are taking a price, you should always be looking to take the best on the market. If you cannot get the best on the market, then compare what you are getting with those, and if you are getting considerably less, your best option likely is to take SP. For example, if you can get 6/1, while many other bookmakers are offering 7/1, 8/1 and maybe even 9/1 unless your runner is heavily backed, it is unlikely the SP will go below the 6/1 you are being offered.

Secondly, you need to think about the chances of your selection being backed. Of course, you can only guess here, but you can look at certain incidents that could cause that to happen. If your selection has a trainer or jockey that could have winners beforehand, this is certainly something to consider.

Also, look at other aspects, such as if rain will change the ground and enhance the claims of your runner or if a draw bias will become apparent and change the market. Money may simply come because there are plenty of people backing the horse, which you cannot legislate for, but you should always look for the factors you can consider.

What Can Impact the SP of a Runner?

sp letters

Prices change when you are looking at a horse or greyhound race, and as these change throughout the day and ahead of the race time, the SP is eventually found. But what can impact that? Here are some of the factors that can affect the SP of a runner.

  • Weight of money – Bookmakers will cut prices to protect their liabilities and try to balance their book as the day goes on
  • Prior results – Look out for results earlier on the card before your race, if someone is having a great day, then expect the odds on their runners to drop
  • Alterations to conditions – Weather, non-runners, draw bias and other things can result in specific runners being shortened in price
  • Other runners – of course, the market is about every runner, some go up, and some go down, if big things happen to other runners, that will affect your pick too
  • Non-Runners – Non runners will decrease the odds of the other runners.