What does SP (strating price) mean in Horse Racing?

Sam Hayes
What does SP (strating price) mean in Horse Racing?

When it comes to sports betting, there are many terms and acronyms that may be confusing for punters, whether they are new to the vocation or not. Understanding the key terms when indulging in sports betting is key and there is plenty of terminology for players to get their head around.

A very commonly used term that can often perplex sports bettors is SP, terminology that can be found amongst most sporting disciplines – particularly when betting on horse racing or greyhound racing.

What does SP stand for?

In its most basic form, SP stands for ‘Starting Price,’ referring to the exact odds a particular bet is/was, at the moment a race or particular sporting event began. As with any bet, the actual starting price is determined by the odds offered by bookmakers in the minutes leading up to the start of the event.

Working Example: If, when betting on horse racing, a punter places a bet at 5/1 one hour before the race begins but during the corresponding time, the odds of the horse change to 6/1, then in theory, the punter will be entitled to the higher winnings at 6/1. 

As the Starting Price (SP) has changed, then the player will receive the pay out at the price of the odds at the moment that the race started.

How is SP Calculated?

The starting price is calculated differently depending on the sport in which it is being used and the type of bet placed. In a popular sport amongst punters such as horse racing, the starting price is calculated by taking the average of the odds offered by bookmakers at the track or online, which is done by an official appointed by the racecourse called the ‘SP Reporter.’

Traditionally, the SP Reporter takes the odds offered by a selection of bookmakers at the racecourse and calculates the average and then this average is then announced as the starting price for each horse in the race. 

Whilst this process does date back somewhat, it is still prevalent on the racecourses of UK and Ireland today and it does impact betting winnings on a daily basis.

In other sports, such as football or basketball, the starting price will be based on the odds offered by a bookmaker at the time the event starts. Most bookmakers will adjust the odds accordingly, based on the amount of money wagered on each team or player in any given circumstance and they will also look to remain competitive when seeking custom.

Why is SP Important in Betting?

In essence, winning a sports bet is the ultimate aim for every sports punter in Ireland and beyond and consequently, the actual starting price odds of any given winner can have an impact on the amount of money a player receives when landing a bet.

In popular sports to bet on such as horse racing and football, the odds in any given market can fluctuate significantly in the minutes before the race or game begins. This is because the final odds are determined by the amount of money wagered on each bet and bookmakers will adjust the odds to balance their books and ensure that they make a profit regardless of the outcome.

Placing a bet at the right time and choosing to accept the Starting Price (SP) can affect the amount of money a player wins or loses on a bet, giving it significance in the pocket for players.

The term ‘Fixed Odds’ works in contrast to SP, meaning that if a player agrees to fixed odds, their bet will be settled at the agreed odds from the moment at which the bet was placed, regardless of any changes in the starting price. However, if a bet is placed at the starting price, the bet will be settled at the odds offered when the event begins.

Obviously, each race or sporting event will be different, meaning the odds will always change and fluctuate. Betting with fixed odds gives the punter a guaranteed return if their bet lands, whilst betting with SP, enables there to be more movement in the market, which could yield a higher or lower return for the player when the bet is settled.

Is betting at SP the best way to go?

The concept of SP is best seen as an extra bet within a bet. Once a player has put down some money on a particular horse or team to land a bet, they must then decide whether they are happy with the initial odds they have been given, or whether they fancy an extra gamble to see if the odds change and they accept the Starting Price (SP).

Landing a bet always comes first but getting it at the best possible price adds the icing to the cake and understanding and utilising SP to good effect can have lucrative consequences when sports betting, regardless of the sport involved or the aspirations of the punter.