Elsewhere on the site I’ve spoken of bookies who offer Faller Insurance. This is where you can get your stake back as a free bet if your horse falls or unseats its rider during a race. That particular offer is traditionally available in the National Hunt jump season, and is replaced by an offer that allows you to get your money back if your horse is beaten by a head or a length in the flat season.
But what does this entail, exactly? And what is a head? What is a length? Is one better than the other? Here I’ll have a little look at this type of offer and explore whether it’s worth taking a bookmaker up on it.
Best Beaten by a Head/Length/Neck Offers
What Classes A Head Or Length?
The British Horse Racing Authority explains that distances are calculated different depending on several factors. The time that elapses between each horse crossing the finishing line is noted along with a Lengths Per Second Scale, or Lps. This changes depending on whether you’re talking about flat or jump racing. The type of surface is also taken into account, as is the going on the day.
Thankfully bookmakers simplify this by having a set rule for figuring out what distance your horse was beaten by. Speaking very simplistically a length is literally the length of the horse from its nose to its tail and a head is the length of its head. Most bookies say that the Course Steward’s decision as published by the likes of the Press Association is final.
A nose is considered to be 0.05 of a length; a short head is 0.1 of a length; a head is 0.2 of a length; a neck is 0.3 of a length; half a length is, as the name suggests, 0.5 of a length and a three-quarters of a length follows the same rule and is .075 of a length.
If your take up the offer that sees your money given back if your horse loses by a length then this typically means that if your horse finishes second and is within a length or less distance from the winner you’ll get your stake returned to you. Likewise if it’s a head then you’ll get your refund if your horse loses by a head, a short head or a nose.
It goes without saying that giving you your stake back on bets where you lose by a length is more generous than offers where you get it back for losing by a head. You’ve got the best part of the full length of a horse on your side, there. Of course horse races can often be quite close, so I certainly wouldn’t recommend that you dismiss the latter offer out of hand.
Key Offer Features
One of the first things you’ll want to know is whether you get your money back as cash, bonus funds or as a free bet. Being honest it’s far more common to get it back as a free bet token, so if you see a bookie offering it back as real money then I’d get straight onto that.
There will often be maximum stakes available with this deal. That doesn’t mean that you’re not allowed to bet more than, say, £25, but that if you bet £50 and your bet loses then you’ll only get £25 back as a free bet. The rest of your money will be taken by the bookie for a job well done.
Dead heats aren’t all that common in horse racing any more, especially with the technology available to the Course Stewards to look at what’s going on. Interestingly, though, if there is a dead heat for first place between two horses then the money back offer normally doesn’t apply as both horses will be paid out as winners and the next horse will effectively have come third. On the flip side bookies will normally refund on both horses if there’s a dead heat for second place.
The money back offer is normally applied to selected UK & Irish horse races, so keep your eyes peeled to see which bookies are covering which races. They may not all cover the same meetings so you might be able to place bets with different bookmakers for the different races that you want to bet on.
This deal normally applies to Win bets or the Win part of Each Way bets. Say you bet £2.50 EW on a race, for example, and your horse loses by half a length. Well you’ll have bet £5 in total but you’ll only get £2.50 back as a free bet if you took a bookie up on a ‘Money Back If Beaten By A Length’ type offer.
How The Free Bet Works
In the majority of cases your stake money will be returned to you as a free bet. When this happens there are normally some rules and Ts & Cs that you’ll have to be aware of. I can’t give you a definitive list of things that you’ll have to do but normally there are a few givens.
The free bet token often has a time limit on it that means you need to use it before it expires, for example. You might also find that you can only use it on bets with certain odds. Some bookies may specify that you need to use it on a horse racing bet, whilst others will let you use it on any event in their sportsbook.
If your stake is returned to you as bonus funds then you may need to roll the free bet over a number of times before you can withdraw it. Say you’ve received a £10 stake back as a free bet and need to roll it over fives times before you can withdraw it, that means you’ll need to wager £50.
Is The Offer Good Value?
The reality is that races can often finish quite close. You’re talking about finely tuned horses that are handicapped or aided in order to make it a fair race, so it’s not hugely uncommon for the result to be tight. With that in mind there’s little wrong with giving yourself some additional insurance so as to make the disappointment slightly less if you just miss out.
What I would say, and this is purely my opinion so someone might tell you different, if you tend to place Each Way bets I’m not sure it’s all that useful. After all you’ll be getting some winnings regardless. If you often go for straight Win bets then it can be very helpful indeed.