I concentrate mostly on UK racing so I don’t normally bet much on Irish Flat Racing, but I was doing a Goodwood and Galway tips package last week, so was faced with plenty of races with reserves, and the associate problems that brings in trying to find value bets. That, and the fact I tipped a horse that came second to a reserve, focused my mind to try and find out exactly how each bookmakers deals with reserves if they run, or if they don’t. I did ask a few people who bet on Irish racing more than me, but nobody seemed sure exactly what rules were applied, and if the rules were universal across all bookmakers. I found this surprising as if punters don’t know if a reserve who ends up as a non runner will result in a rule 4, then they really have no idea what price they’re actually backing the horse at, and as such all the hours they may have spent studying the form to get a small edge, could be thrown away by unknowingly backing the horse with the wrong bookie.
I checked most of the major bookmakers terms and conditions to see their rules on reserves, and found some to be very fair, others not so much, and other bookmakers that don’t think the issue deserves any mention in their rules at all. I list the relevant rules followed by my interpretation of them below.