The Psychology Of Horse Race Betting

Horse race betting encompasses selecting the best race horse that will win or which jockey you believe will take the show during the race. It’s one thing for the horse to perform well, but they only perform as well as the jockey’s ability to direct them to the finish line, so the betting could go both ways.

Betting online with horse races can get exciting and dangerous simultaneously if you aren’t careful. The thrill of watching the horse you bet on get to the finish line is part of the excitement, but the dangerous part could be chasing losses if the horse you thought would win actually loses. We will cover the various cognitive biases involved in betting on horse races, emotional reactions that could lead to impulse betting, and how to overcome these psychological biases.

The Cognitive Biases When Betting On Horse Races

There are three key cognitive biases that manifest themselves in horse race bettors, believe it or not. As you read each one, see if any of these biases apply to you so you can properly self-reflect on your betting habits.

Availability Bias

Some bettors prefer to only utilize information that is available at their fingertips rather than taking into consideration all the factors that could affect a horse race. While it’s important to consider how horses and jockeys performed in prior races, there are other pivotal factors that should also be considered such as how the current weather influences the race track.

Anchoring Bias

Certain horse race bettors only utilize the first informational piece they hear related to the horse race in which they are betting on. It’s important to consider all angles of information to make the most informed bet possible such as the partnership between jockeys and trainers and how the jockey can properly direct and redirect their horse through the race.

Confirmation Bias

Any preconceptions about a horse race is going to go should be thrown out the door, but bettors with a confirmation bias hold on tight to them. Rather than looking at the reality of their favorite horse’s performance, bettors may hold on to how past races had panned out rather than the overall statistics of the possibility of another horse in that race performing better than their favored horse.

Emotional Reactions That Lead To Impulse Betting

Woman Holding Phone - FOMO

Emotions can run high during any type of betting activity, including wagering on horse races. The many emotional reactions that could lead to impulse betting if you aren’t careful can be excitement, FOMO, and loss aversion.


It’s natural to be excited while betting on horse races because you won’t know the results of your bet winning or losing until the race is over. This can cause you to make new bets as the race is occurring without properly taking in all the information surrounding that bet.

Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO)

We all know the annoying feeling of the fear of missing out (FOMO), which is very prominent when betting on horse races, too. Especially if there is a great-performing horse that will be participating in an upcoming derby, it can be tempting to want to place a bet.

Loss Aversion

It’s painful to lose the money on a bet you placed, which can cause some bettors to chase losses. Avoid this desire at all costs because it could put you more in a financial hole.

How To Overcome Psychological Biases

Overcoming these psychological biases while horse race betting can be challenging, but also long as you implement these tactics, you can have a more optimized betting experience:

  • Have an objective mindset and try not to let emotions overpower your betting activity.
  • Stay patient with your betting journey. Not every bet is going to result in a win, and it’s best to accept this truth early.
  • Track records of bets to see how much you have been spending on wagering for horse race betting. Tracking these expenses can help you to be more mindful of your betting habits.