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What is a Rule 4?

You’ll often see those in the world of horse racing talk about Rule 4 and you might not know what it means. Well, as you know, here at FRT we are always here to help and we’re going to explain just what Rule 4 is.

When a Rule 4 deduction is mentioned it is really referring to Rule 4 (C) as that is the bit that affects the return on your bet.

All of the Tattersalls Committee Rules of racing can be found here including the full Rule 4 explanation.

Basically, Rule 4 (C)  is a deduction made on a horse when another horse in the race is declared a non-runner after the final declaration and your bet is at a fixed price.

So, let’s say you backed a horse at 6/1 on the morning of the race and the 2/1 favourite is pulled out of the encounter just an hour or so before it gets underway. This then means your 6/1 is now looking incredibly generous as you have a much better chance of winning.

For that reason, there does have to be a deduction to your bet to make sure that the betting is fair and as mentioned, the 6/1 you got earlier in the day is no longer the correct – or fair – odds.

What you do need to know is that Rule 4 deduction will only apply AFTER the final declarations for a race is made. Usually, this is around 24 hours before a race for National Hunt and 48 hours for Flat. Also, if you back a horse and it is declared a non-runner after the final declarations, you will get your stake money back. It is worth noting though that Ante-post punters do not get their stake money back from non-runners.

To make it all a little bit easier, there’s a handy explanation here and it describes just how much of your bet is deducted, depending on the odds of the non-runner.

  • If the current odds of the non-runner are 1/9 or shorter at the time the non-runner withdraws from the race, then 90p in £/E/$ is deducted (or 90% of winnings)
  • If over 2/11 up to and including 2/17, 85% of winnings are deducted
  • If over 1/4 up to and including 1/5, 80% of winnings are deducted
  • If over 3/10 up to & including 2/5, 70% of winnings are deducted
  • If over 2/5 up to and including 8/15, 65% of winnings are deducted
  • If over 8/15 up to and including 8/13, 60% of winnings are deducted
  • If over 8/13 up to and including 4/5, 55% of winnings are deducted
  • If over 4/5 up to and including 20/21, 50% of winnings are deducted
  • If over 20/21 up to and including 6/5, 45% of winnings are deducted
  • If over 6/5 up to and including 6/4, 40% of winnings are deducted
  • If over 6/4 up to and including 7/4, 35% of winnings are deducted
  • If over 7/4 up to and including 9/4, 30% of winnings are deducted
  • If over 9/4 up to and including 3/1, 25% of winnings are deducted
  • If over 3/1 up to and including 4/1, 20% of winnings are deducted
  • If over 4/1 up to and including 11/2, 15% of winnings are deducted
  • If over 11/2 up to and including 9/1, 10% of winnings are deducted
  • If over 9/1 up to and including 14/1, 5% of winnings are deducted
  • If the non-runner is over 14/1 then there is no deduction

In the case of two or more horses being withdrawn, the total reduction shall not exceed 90 pence in the pound or 90%

If there are  withdrawals in reformed markets, the total deduction over the two or more horses (i.e. one in the original and one in the reformed market) will be calculated on the prices applicable in the original market. 

For bets placed in reformed markets, deductions applied to withdrawn horses in these markets will be calculated on the prices applicable in these markets. 

Bets made at Starting Price are not affected, except in cases where insufficient time arises for a new market to be formed, when the same scale of reductions will apply. 

In the event of the withdrawal of one or more runners in circumstances which would lead to only one runner and therefore a ‘walkover’, all bets on the race will be void. The race will be considered a ‘walkover’ for the purpose of settling bets. 

For the purpose of this Rule 4 (C) the non-appearance of a declared runner will be held to be an official notification of the withdrawal of such horse before the race is off. 

In the case of a horse declared by the Starter ‘not to have started’, a racecourse announcement will be made to that effect. This official announcement will be made before the race result is displayed. 

We do have a good example of when Rule 4 has come into play to our advantage: 

A couple of years ago one of our Little Beauties was 8/1 when we tipped it in the morning, but the 4/1 favourite was subsequently  withdrawn which meant that there were going to be rule 4 deductions when it eventually won.

The horse went off with an SP of 2/1, so he was a popular bet anyway, but those who backed him at 8/1 would only lose 20% of their winnings. So, a £10 win bet that would have paid £90, ended up paying £72, which is still a good profit of £62.

It’s easy to work out the deductions, as all you have to do is look at the table above, see that the non-runner was at 4/1 and then see that deducts 20% of your winnings.

Rule 4 deductions can be frustrating for punters, but more often than not, it’s better than taking the starting price (SP).

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