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Home » what is a cover bet
Jamie Clark
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A cover bet in horse racing where you can insure you stake against being lost when the bookies offer a money back as cash or free bet deal on selected events or meetings. Full cover betsare quite different, meanwhile, and concern specific types of combination and system wagers that cover all possible permutations based on the number of selections included.

More detailed answers to what is a cover bet and what is a full cover bet lie in the text below. Our experts discuss and explain both to you, so that you understand the differences between them and how they work. Once you get your ahead around the cover bet meaning and concept, you’ll know its value.

What is a Cover Bet?

So, just what is a cover bet in horse racing circles? Its meaning has changed over time. Initially just any wager made to cover the stake put on an earlier bet in case that selection loses, there are now betting offers out there specific to the sport that encourage punters to wager on certain races. These deals act as an incentive as you get losing stakes back either as cash or bonus funds if the horse you back doesn’t win but finishes within a set number of places and/or behind the favourite.

How Does Cover Betting Work?

Discover what is a cover bet in horse racing

The first thing to note about opportunities to place a cover bet is they are on selected horse racing betting sites targeting particular races or meetings as a whole. Not every online bookie and certainly not every race qualifies for this type of bet. You should also be aware that these promotions only apply sometimes when particular outcomes on the track happen.

This isn’t an all-encompassing offer like Best Odds Guaranteed, for example. Far from it in fact. Cover betting isn’t for every event, only set meetings and races that bookmakers themselves choose. That means unfortunately they will probably pick the most competitive and difficult contests on the day, but don’t be daunted by the challenge.

In a lot of cases, if the Starting Price (SP) favourite wins and your horse finishes second to that one, then taking the cover bet option was worthwhile as that is the specific scope of the offer. While you don’t gain anything from such wagers, the whole concept is about mitigating loss. That’s a good thing, especially on a sport like horse racing where there are so many potential outcomes to each event.

One more thing you should know about cover betting before we move on, though, is this isn’t a deal in place to attract new business and get sign ups for the bookies. Instead, these are open to all existing customers with the purpose of creating betting interest on the race or meeting in question. All you have to do is engage with bookmakers, place a qualifying bet and hope that it meets the set conditions if your horse doesn’t win.

Different Types of Cover Bet Explained

While the most popular of these promotions is money back as a horse racing free bet if your horse finishes second to the SP fav, there are different cover bet offers out there. What separates one deal from another is the number of places it applies to. The more insurance you can get from cover betting, the better. Let’s take a look at the three main types:

What Does Cover Bet 2 Places Mean?

First up, it’s the standard deal. What is a cover bet on 2 places, we hear you ask? Well, it’s where you have your stake refunded as cash or as bonus funds when the horse you back finishes second in a certain race. An additional aspect from the terms and conditions on online bookmakers may or may not include the SP favourite or a named horse, depending on how generous the bookies feel.

What is a Cover Bet with 3 Places?

Better than having a couple of places insured is three. The cover bet meaning with 3 places is that your chosen runner can finish second or third, perhaps to the SV fav or a set horse, or just regardless of the winner, and bookmakers return your stake in full or give you a free bet. The beauty here is that you can place each way bets and get the losing outright win part refunded, plus the potential returns from the place aspect of such a wager.

What Does Cover Bet 4 Places Mean?

If, and it’s a rare enough thing, the bookies are feeling very charitable, you might even get insurance for four places. What is a cover bet with 4 places, you say? That’s precisely it. Back a horse in a certain race and, if finishes second, third or fourth, maybe to the favourite or a named horse, and you get your stake back in cash or as free bets for another go. This is cover betting at its best and most favourable terms. Fourth place may not even pay out each way, so you’re really reducing the risk if you can take a punt that meets the conditions.

What is a Full Cover Bet?

Now that you’ve had the cover bet explained to you, what about full cover wagers? These are combination and system bets, again popular on but not exclusive to horse racing, that turn an accumulator into a multiple that, well, covers all permutations. Let’s say you put on a fourfold acca. A full cover version of that is a Lucky 15 as there 15 possible combinations in betting terms that the four selections can be placed as. More on that below.

How Does Full Cover Betting Work?

A full cover bet soon sees your unit stake multiply as the individual Singles, Doubles, Trebles and so on that comprise the wager are taken into account. In other words, your outlay is going to be larger than a simple acca but you only need one of the selections involved to win and bookmakers must return some money to you.

We’ve all been there when one leg of a football accumulator lets us down. There are separate deals you can get relating to these in terms of insuring the wager, but a full cover bet on the same picks would have you well into profit. That’s because other Singles, Doubles, etc that didn’t include the losing element all won and therefore pay out.

Some punters may feel that full cover betting is complicated, and it’s certainly less straightforward than an accumulator to understand. Those same people may feel Acca Insurance is something worth pursuing instead, but that only mitigates loss. Full cover bets have you making money in spite of a leg here and there going down.

Pros & Cons of a Full Cover Bet

We’ve already seen how full cover betting has some advantages over a straight accumulator. There are also drawbacks, which our experts have been upfront and honest about as well. You’ll find this is the case with almost any type of wager. Now is a good time to recaps and upsides and negatives with full cover bets. This is the balanced view:


  • Bets can be profitable without all winning
  • Can combine full cover with each way bets
  • Does more than mitigate loss insurance deals


  • Not always a value betting proposition
  • Returns tied heavily to the odds taken
  • Unit stake a multiple of straight accas

Different Types of Full Cover Bet Explained

There are four common full cover bets available to you with bookmakers. Most popular with horse racing and football betting as these are the main sports people in the UK take a punt on, each is relative to a different number of selections. Here they are and what goes into them:

  • Patent – 3 selections combined as 3 Singles, 3 Doubles and a Treble; 7x unit stake.
  • Lucky 15 – 4 selections combined as 4 Singles, 6 Doubles, 4 Trebles and a Fourfold Accumulator; 15x unit stake.
  • Lucky 31 – 5 selections combined as 5 Singles, 10 Doubles, 10 Trebles, 5 Fourfold Accumulators and a Fivefold Accumulator; 31x unit stake.
  • Lucky 63 – 6 selections combined as 6 Singles, 15 Doubles, 20 Trebles, 15 Fourfold Accumulators, 6 Fivefold Accumulators and a Sixfold Accumulator; 63 unit stake.

When Should I Use Cover & Full Cover Betting

There’s a time and a place for both cover and full cover bets. What you must realise is that neither can give complete protection against losing your money. No betting system is fool proof, but you should recognise opportunities when both wager types can work for you. Follow our experts’ advice below and you’ll make better decisions when betting more often all being well:

Cover Bets a Free Hit

If the bookies give you what is effectively a free shot at finding a winner through cover betting, then why not? They give you all the reason (or excuse, depending on your perspective as a punter) you need. Get involved and pick out a horse, safe in the knowledge if it runs into second, or third, or fourth place that you get your stake back. The key here is to only bet up to the maximum stake allowed for a cover bet without losing capital.

Terms and conditions attached to such betting promotions will make this clear. You’ll soon know how much you can put on a cover bet and have the stake in full refunded as either cash or a free bet. As these also work in conjunction with each way wagers, provided your fancy is above a certain minimum odds threshold to break even on a place, then that too makes sense to use.

Full Cover an Alternative to Acca Insurance

Any offers that apply to accumulators that mitigate loss are a good thing. Getting your stake back when one leg lets you down through Acca Insurance softens the blow, but it’s still disappointing to come so close to pulling off such a wager. Full cover betting is a credible alternative, however, as you still receive a payout on the legs and multiples like Doubles and Trebles that still won.

You could well have made a profit on out your total outlay without every selection being successful. That’s much less deflating than reverting to the status quo when all bar one leg of a straight accumulator is a winner. While you do have to fork out more for full cover bets, punters should give them serious consideration as a tool in the right circumstances.

Best Bookies for Cover & Full Cover Bets

Only the leading online betting sites in the UK provide opportunities for cover bets, so don’t expect to find such deals everywhere. With full cover betting, meanwhile, any bookie that accepts accumulators also has this as an option when you add selections to the betslip. So with this we wish you good luck, and hope that we gave you a firm grounding on what is a cover bet and how to use it.


Are cover bets available on all horse racing events?

Will cover bets be offered on Extra Place Races?

What does cover bet 3 places mean?

Which sports have cover bets available?

How is a full cover bet different from a cover bet?

Are Trixies, Yankees, Canadians, etc considered full cover bets?

Jamie Clark

Horse racing expert Jamie Clark joined the SafeBettingSites team in 2021 after a decade working in related industries. Hailing from a strong gambling background, he is now the master behind our Academy, breaking down and explaining betting jargon and key terms. Jamie can aid you in better understanding what they all mean. He uses his vast knowledge of horse racing and other popular betting sports to pull the curtain back on popular wagers by providing advice and strategy on how to make these work best for punters. After honing his skills as the sports editor of major betting brand Coral, Jamie forged a successful freelance career working with bookmakers to provide informative content just like that in the Betting Academy.

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