Rule 4 Explained

rule 4Many of us only find out about Rule 4, or R4, retrospectively after it has already been applied, when we discover a lower payout amount than we were expecting from our bet.

Rule 4 is an industry wide deduction rule made when there are non-runners in a horse or greyhound race, after final declarations have been made. This can also apply to other markets where a set field of contestants are due to compete and one or more competitors is withdrawn.

The rule is in essence a tiered reduction in the amount you are paid out depending on the odds price of the horse(s) or dog(s) withdrawn from the race. In this article we explain in greater detail what rule 4 means with a full list of deductions.

List of Rule 4 Deductions

Non-runner OddsDecimal OddsDeduction From Winnings (/£)% Deduction
1/9 or less 1.11 or less 0.90 90%
2/11 to 2/17 1.12 to 1.19 0.85 85%
1/4 to 1/5 1.2 to 1.27 0.80 80%
3/10 to 2/7 1.28 to 1.33 0.75 75%
2/5 to 1/3 1.34 to 1.44 0.70 70%
8/15 to 4/9 1.45 to 1.57 0.65 65%
8/13 to 4/7 1.58 to 1.66 0.60 60%
4/5 to 4/6 1.67 to 1.83 0.55 55%
20/21 to 5/6 1.84 to 1.99 0.50 50%
Evens (1/1) to 6/5 2.0 to 2.24 0.45 45%
5/4 to 6/4 2.25 to 2.59 0.40 40%
8/5to 7/4 2.6 to 2.79 0.35 35%
9/5 to 9/4 2.8 to 3.39 0.30 30%
12/5 to 3/1 3.4 to 4.19 0.25 25%
16/5 to 4/1 4.2 to 5.4 0.20 20%
9/2 to 11/2 5.5 to 6.99 0.15 15%
6/1 to 9/1 7.0 to 10.99 0.10 10%
10/1 to 14/1 11.0 to 15.0 0.05 5%
14/1 or More 15.0+ 0.00 0%

What is Rule 4?

rule 4Rule 4, or Rule 4(c) given its full title, is an agreed industry standard deduction strategy to protect bookmakers in the instance of non-runners. The rule is drafted in the Tattersalls Rule of Racing that governs all racing.  This also includes other rules (1-12, see later) that define how bookmakers treat wagers in the various events that can effect racing.

Now obviously if you take odds on a horse in any sized field and after the final declarations are made a horse is withdrawn then the price you were given is no longer a fair reflection of that horses chances of winning. The bookie therefore reduces the payout you receive relative to the price of the withdrawn horse (or dog or contestant depending on the sport).

If the non-runner selection is an outsider with odds of 14/1 and unlikely to win anyway then no deductions are applied to winnings. A shorter priced withdrawn selection however would be more likely to win and therefore the impact on the rest of the field is higher. Therefore the lower the odds of the non-runner the more the deduction from any eventual winnings. If a very strong favourite is withdrawn at 1/9 or less this can mean a deduction of 90% of winnings, or 90p in £1.

Rule 4 does not affect your rights to a stake refund on the withdrawn selection, or any subsequent non-runner prior to coming under starters orders.

Rule 4 FAQ's

Are there any exceptions to rule 4?

faqYes, some bookmakers have done away with some of the lowest deductions, especially the 5p rule.

Ladbrokes are a stand out example of a betting site that did away with the 5p reduction a long time ago. As part of their excellent racing value that includes best odds guarantee on all races they have also 0% deductions on horses withdrawn between 10/1 and 14/1.

The main exception to rule 4 are ante-post bets, bets placed on the ante-post market (generally more than 24 hours before a race) will not be reduced.  This is one of the main benefits of betting ante-post.  The major draw back of course is that if your horse is a non-runner and you have bet ante-post then you may not get your stake back.

Do Bookmakers have different rule 4 deductions?

There are minor differences between bookmakers but the odds range listed in the table is standard. You may find slight differences when dealing with continental bookies that primarily list odds as decimal. Bookies may also have slightly different ways of pricing in fractions that can affect the list in a minor way. Some betting sites will also class a 10/1+ selection as an outsider with zero deduction others go all the way up to 14/1.

It is worth checking in advance but figures are only going to be very slightly different between operators.

For more information about how prices work see our betting odds explained article.

Where does the Rule 4 odds price come from?

The Rule 4 price is defined by the odds of the non-runner selection at the time of withdrawal and will be specific to the book you have placed the bet on. For example, two bookies may list a withdrawn horse at different prices, your rule 4 deduction is defined by the price listed with your bookmaker.

This should not effect a starting price bet as the market will be reformed and the SP adjusted appropriately. Should the horse or selection be withdrawn after SP has been announced and before the market can be reformed then the SP will be adjusted retrospectively.

Likewise this should not effects bets where fixed odds are taken after the market has reformed. Winnings are only deducted from wagers placed before reformed market prices are announced.

What happens if more than one selection is withdrawn?

If a selection is withdrawn the market will be reformed with new prices. If more runners are subsequently withdrawn the market will be reformed again, and so on.

If a horse is withdrawn from a reformed market then the subsequent second rule 4 deduction is based on the price in the reformed market not the original market.

What is the maximum rule 4 deduction?

If two or more horses are withdrawn the Rule 4 states the maximum possible deduction is £0.90 or 90%.

Even if a 15 strong field were reduced by 10 horses then there can still only be a maximum of a 90% reduction in the price. Then again it is highly likely a race like that would be cancelled or postponed anyway.

Will I Receive a reduced stake return with rule 4?

No, your full stake will always be retuned whatever the level of reduction on any winnings. The stake is separate to the payout and is in essence your money until you lose it.

Whenever you place a bet the bookmaker is simply holding your stake until either you lose the wager or you win the bet in which case the stake is always refunded.

What Happens If my horse places with rule 4?

If a horse is withdrawn and the field is reduced with a reformed market the new market may have a lower number of places on offer to reflect the new field size. If you placed your bet before the market was reformed and therefore subject to Rule 4 you will still be entitled to the same number of places as the original market.

Any winnings from an each-way or place bet placed on the original book will be honored at the initial number of places but winnings deducted as defined in the table above.

'Not to place' betting with rule 4

Again the number of places offered in the original market will remain the same if you placed the bet before a non-runner is announced or before a market is reformed, unless the number of places becomes equal or less than the number of horses remaining in the field.

In this instance reverse Rule 4 will apply that will therefore lengthen the odds of your bet as it now has less chance of winning. For example, you have placed a 'not to place' bet in a field of 8 horses with 3 places. There are however now 7 horses but still 3 places, therefore the chances of your horse not placing is reduced. Your winnings will therefore now be enhanced relative to the odds of the withdrawn horse.

Other Tattersalls Rules of Racing

tattersalls committeeOf course Rule 4(c) isn't termed that for a laugh, it is part of a series of 12 rules defined in the Tattersalls Rules of Racing. These rules standardise how bets are handled for horse and greyhound racing and have been around since 1886.

In fact if you think an operator has failed to adhere to the rules of racing you can even complain to the Tattersalls Committee, they were formed initially as a dispute resolution service.  The committee is fully backed by the gambling commission and has the last say on how the rules of racing are interpreted.

Here is a summary of the Tattersalls Rules of Racing:

  • Rule 1 - 'Betting' is defined in the Gambling Act 2005 Section 9.
  • Rule 2 - Wagers can only be amended or cancelled with mutual consent.
  • Rule 3 - Each-Way places are defined by the number of starters, except for ante-post bets or unless otherwise stated.
  • Rule 4a - Ante-post bets (before 10am on the day) are void if 1. the race is abandoned, 2. race declared void, 3. race conditions changed, 4. venue changed, 5. horse eliminated.
  • Rule 4b - If a race is void or abandoned or a horse declared not to have started then bets are void and returned, except for ante-post.
  • Rule 4c - Deductions to bets placed on the day if a horse is withdrawn before coming under starters orders.
  • Rule 4d - Exceptions to rule 4c.
  • Rule 4e - If reserve horse replaces a runner then prior bets (except ante-post) are to be settled at SP.
  • Rule 5 - Accumulators are not determined until the last race has been run.
  • Rule 6 - If a race is re-run then SP bets are defined by the price at the time of the re-run.  If a horse is withdrawn at this point then rule 4c will apply.
  • Rule 7 - Bets are settled based on the order of horses announced when 'Weighed In'.
  • Rule 8 - Photo finishes are also settled based on the 'Weighed In' announcement.
  • Rule 9 - Bets stand according to the 'Weighed In' announcement irrespective of subsequent objections or stewards enquiries.
  • Rule 10 - In the event of a dead-heat the stake is divided between the number of runners in the dead heat.
  • Rule 11 - Rule for trade or credit bets.
  • Rule 12 - The majority decision of the Tattersalls Committee is final.