Rule 4 in horse racing refers to a deduction taken from payouts on a race if a runner/runners are withdrawn after the final declarations are made
What is Rule 4 and why does it exist?
Rule 4 or Rule 4(c) of the Tattersalls Rule of Racing, as it’s officially known, is observed by the betting industry to protect bookmakers in the event of a non-runner or non-runners after the final declarations for a race are made.
Final declarations are supposed to indicate that the horses will definitely take part in the race and must be made 10.00am two days before any Flat race, the biggest jumps races and any races on Sunday. For all other jump races final declarations are announced on the day before the race.
If you back a horse at fixed odds after the final declarations and later a non-runner is announced, the odds you obtained may not be a fair reflection of your selection’s chances of winning because they have fewer rivals to beat, especially if the withdrawn horse is a favourite. Rule 4 deductions are taken from any winning bets to reflect this.
When a non-runner is announced, Rule 4 is then applicable to all bets made on the race between the final declarations being made and the time that the bookmaker you placed your bet with has reformed their market (adjusted all the odds) to reflect the updated field.
Rule 4 deductions can differ in size
The size of the Rule 4 deduction made from winning bets on the race (in terms of pence in the pound) depends on the price the withdrawn runner was trading at with the bookmaker you have placed your bet with at the time of the non-runner’s withdrawal.
Why? Because if an odds-on favourite becomes a non runner the chances of your selection winning are improved by a greater amount than if the withdrawn horse was the 100/1 outsider.
Rule 4 deductions table
This table illustrates the sliding scale of Rule 4 deductions based on the odds of the horse that is withdrawn.
Do each-way places change with Rule 4?
No. The reformed market may offer a lower number of places than there were available when you made your bet, but you still get the amount of places that were on offer when it was made.
If more than one runner is withdrawn after final declarations…
As per Tattersalls Committee Rules on Racing: ‘In the case of two or more horses being withdrawn, the total reduction shall not exceed 90 pence in the pound.
‘In the case of withdrawals in reformed markets, the total deduction over the two or more horses (ie one in the original and one in the reformed market) will be calculated on the prices applicable in the original market.
‘For bets placed in reformed markets, deductions applied to withdrawn horses in these markets will be calculated on the prices applicable in these markets.’
What is the maximum Rule 4 deduction?
The highest possible Rule 4 deduction is 90p in the pound.