In horse racing betting terminology, the letters SP stand for Starting Price.
But what does SP mean? Who decides what the Starting Price of a horse is, and where are you most likely to come across this term?
In this guide, I’ll explain everything you need to know about SP, and how, where and why it is used in horse racing and greyhound racing.
What Is The Starting Price?
The SP (Starting Price) of a horse or greyhound refers to the odds at which it can be backed at the start of a race. It has been an important part of horse racing since the 18th Century and continues to be widely used in 2023.
SP is used in a variety of different ways, but its main purpose is to determine the odds for bet settlement, and to record the odds in the official race results.
If a punter has placed a bet on a horse but was not given specific odds at the time, then the bet will be paid out at SP (if it wins.)
Where Might You See SP Used?
- Race Results – When the results of a horse race are published, you they usually include the odds of each horse that ran. Those odds are the horse’s SP.
- Bookies Racecards – You will often see SP odds on horse racing betting sites or apps. If odds haven’t been published for a specific race yet, you can still place a bet. That bet will be settled (if it wins) using the official Starting Price.
- Tipsters & Betting System Results – When a horse racing tipster or betting system records its results, these should always reflect the odds that any punter could have easily achieved. Therefore, all tipster and betting system results are recorded using SP.
- Bookies Offers – Many online bookies have an offer known as Best Odds Guaranteed which gives the punter an opportunity to achieve better odds than SP by taking an early price on a horse or greyhound, and guaranteeing that if SP is higher they will be paid at the higher price.
Why Do We Need SP?
In betting markets, and particularly in horse and greyhound racing, odds are volatile and can change significantly between the time the market opens and the time the result is known.
For example, a horse may be available at 20/1 at the start of the day. But if lots of punters want to back it, the price will inevitably shorten and may reduce to 18/1, then 14/1, then 12/1 and maybe 10/1 an hour before the race. It might then drift back up to 12/1 if punters look for value by backing other horses instead.
So if a horse is available at all those different prices throughout the day, how then do we record the odds in the race results? Should it go down as 20/1 which is the highest price any punter got? Or 10/1 which is the lowest?
To maintain standards, the horse racing industry records its results at SP.
Who Decides What The SP Is?
The Starting Price Regulatory Committee (SPRC) is an independent body responsible for the integrity and accuracy of the starting price (SP). Their job is to set the parameters used to calculate the SP and to ensure that these are met.
The method used to calculate SP is a bit complex, but broadly speaking it takes the odds available at all major bookies at the start of the race, ranks them in order and takes the median price to be the SP.
In reality, with online betting these days, many bookmakers monitor each other’s prices closely. Therefore by the time the race starts there is usually very little difference in the odds available at most online and mobile bookies anyway.
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Last Updated on January 11, 2021
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