For a country with a few gambling options, a prestigious horse racing event is always a welcome treat. Thailand is a constitutional monarchy that prohibits the gambling except for the government-sponsored National Lottery and horse racing. Horse racing may not be as popular as the National Lottery because of its common association with the elite of Thailand. Probably because the events are held in the prestigious membership sports clubs. Still, these racecourses are open to the public for betting even though they are club members. These public races are held every second Sunday, alternating between The Royal Bangkok Sports Club (RBSC) and The Royal Turf Club (RTC).
Thailand is a vibrant country with amazing beaches but what most do not know is that the country also boasts of a gambling treasure. In fact, horse racing events have won the hearts of the high-so and the royalty.
Horse racing in Thailand has a rich history. It was in 1890 when Franking Hurst, an English man submitted a request to lease a Sra Pratum land where he can host occasional races including horse racing and cycle racing. The development was known as the Royal Racing Course, but the operations did not last long. The re-introduction of horse racing to Thailand happened when King Rama V returned from his European state visit in 1897. His Majesty fell in love with horse racing and the king’s civil servants and students were the ones who spearheaded a horse racing event to show their allegiance and support. The event gave birth to the rising popularity of Western-style horse racing, particularly among the elite.
The Royal Bangkok Sports Club became the country’s first racecourse because the king wanted to promote high-quality breeding and horse racing in his country and at the same time providing a great sports venues for locals and expats living in Thailand. Located on the premier spot on Henri Dunant Road, the Royal Bangkok Sports Club hosts public horse racing events every other Sunday. The club also accepts and serves as a horse training and testing centre.
Thailand hosts 26 horse races annually. This includes four premier celebration cups including the Ram Rakop Cup, Royal Derby Cup, Chairman’s Cup, and the Phraya Pradipatpubal Cup. The country also serves as host to three major competitions including the Chakri Cup held every April, followed by the Queen’s Cup every August, and the finale event of the year, The King’s Cup held every December.
A highly prestigious sports club established in 1901, Royal Bangkok Sports Club is a favourite among the elite. Non-members pay an admission fee of 100 baht. While this sports club is not as glamorous as the Royal Ascot, the grandstand is booming with excitement. The Thai clientele sure knows how to have fun at any horse race event.
Royal Turf Club of Thailand
Address: Phitsanulok Road, Duan Chitralada Sub-District, Dusit
Telephone Number: +66 (0)2 628 1810-5
An exclusive club in Thailand, Royal Turf Club is only a short driving distance from Bangkok. Many punters love placing a wager on horse races in this venue because they commonly have highly favourable betting odds. This particular club will no longer host horse races as the Crown Property Bureau (CPB) who owns the land that the lease for horse races will be terminated. It is believed that the venue will become a public park to honour the late HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
Nong Ho Horse Track (Chiang Mai)
Address: Chiang Mai-Fang Rd (107 Hwy/Chotana Road) Tumbol Changphueak Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai 50300
Telephone Number: +66 53 221 974
This up and coming horse racing facility is located near the Rama IX Lake. Horse race events are held every Saturday afternoon. It has a low admission rate but betting can get quite expensive. Most races start at 4 in the afternoon but since the racecourse is not as popular yet, schedules of races often start late.
Some follow their gut feel while others are more superstitious when they choose a horse to bet on. Whatever they follow, it is important that they follow these simple tips so they can truly enjoy horse racing.
Polish Handicapping Skills. Handicapping is how one determines which horse has the highest probability of winning a race. It is more of a creative processing rather than systematic computation. To be good at it, punters must study the Daily Racing Form (DRF). This form contains figures and statistics, once decoded, can give punters a good edge on which horses will do well.
Study the Beyer Speed Figures. One of the figures to look at are the Beyer numbers, which are the starting point in the handicapping process. These are the bold numbers at the middle of each DRF. It indicated a horse’s previous performances. Most punters use the horse that has the highest last-race Beyer to help them eliminate the horses that did not ever run close to this figure. The two numbers in the Beyer figures represent pace and speed.
Pace Projections. It is determined by studying the past performances. Those who have mastered the skills of handicapping estimate the pace of the existing race and decide on which of the horses will be able to take advantage of it. The first bold number is the pace and states if the horse prefers to lead early or not.
Speed Projections. Entirely different from pace, speed is the second bold number on the Beyer figure. It shows the ability of the horse to pass other horses as they approach the finish line. It should be noted that speed does not mean consistency, which is possible with pace.
Consider Race Distance. One of the biggest factors bettors should consider when betting is the distance. There are horses that can get tired at around six furlongs, they wouldn’t last long in races that have twelve furlongs.
Monitor the Track and Weather. Also known as track bias, weather and track changes can change the race entirely. Wise bettors often take into consideration bias in the racing surface when they decide on which horse to bet on. Each horse has a preferred surface – dirt or turf. It is important to know a horse performance on the race track.
Weather should also be considered when betting. A little rain can turn dirt into a muddy pit and bettors should know if a particular horse has performed well in this kind of weather and track.
Account Form Cycles. Handicappers should take into consideration the consistency of a particular horse. Not all last races represent the true ability of a horse. Some horses have poor statistics because of a bias in the previous race while other horses are known to improve or regress on race day. So it is wise to consider the consistency of a particular horse.
Analyze the Horse’s Post Position. When looking at the statistics, carefully note the previous races of the horse. From there, a horse’s past post position can be seen. Oftentimes, sprint races with only one turn favour the outside posts, while route races with two turns at longer distances usually favour the inside post position. Consider your horse’s post position and correlate it with the current race. Bettors also use this information to compare with other horses.
How much does it cost to enjoy a horse race in Thailand?
Visitors must pay an admission fee. For Royal Bangkok Sports Club, the entrance fee is 50 baht for grandstand, 100 baht for grandstand behind the winning post, 600 baht for Club House, and 1,600 baht for winning posts room. The Nong Ho Horse Track charges 20 baht for the open stands and 100 baht for air-conditioned stands. Race programmes are also available for purchase, with the Thai version a lot cheaper for 10 baht while the English version going for as much as 100 baht. Expats and beginners are highly advised to secure the English version, which contains a short introduction and explanation of the Thailand betting system. Bets start at a minimum of 50 baht, but bigger bets are also welcome.
Is there a dress code to follow?
There are no existing dress codes to follow in attending horse race events in Thailand. It is, in fact, common to find spectators wearing flip-flops, short-sleeved shirts, and typical casual dresses. Although those who want to access the air-conditioned stands must follow a smart casual dress code, at least. Men are also expected to wear collared shirts and women are best to dress conservatively in a knee-length dress, if possible.
What is the crowd like?
Many of the Thai people who are horse racing betting enthusiasts are middle-aged or older man. Visitors can see their seriousness and excitement as they cheer on top of their lungs for their favourite horses to reach the finish line.