If my horse refuses to race, do I lose my money?

In horse racing, one of the jobs of the starter is to ensure a fair, equal start. Once horses come ‘under starter’s orders’ or, in other words, are waiting for the imminent start of a race, they cannot, under normal circumstances, be withdrawn. Thus, if any horse refuses to race, either by planting itself in the starting stalls or declining to jump off with the rest of the field in the event of a tape start, any bets on that horse are typically settled as losing bets.

However, some, but not all, bookmakers recognise how frustrating it can be, as a punter, not to get any sort of a run for your money. Those that do may, entirely at their discretion, refund money staked on single, win or each-way, bets on horses that refuse to race or otherwise lose all chance at the start; some do so in cash, while others do so in free bet credits or vouchers. While such action is true to the principle `if you can’t win, you can’t lose’, bookmakers are under no obligation to refund your money, at all, under such circumstances. If, on the other hand, a horse is withdrawn before coming under starter’s orders or is officially deemed by the starter to have taken no part in the race, you are entitled to have your stake money refunded, in cash, in any case.