Ante post is a type of bet placed in various sports but most commonly used in horse racing. It describes a bet made at least one day before the start of a horse race or before the start of an event.
Ante post betting has declined in popularity in recent years. Once seen as a potentially shrewd investment, getting ante post prices was seen as a key part of finding value in racing. However, bookmakers are now far wearier of ante post liabilities and it can actually pay to wait until the day of the race in an effort to ensure a better price.
For example, in the weeks prior to the 2015 Investec Derby, Golden Horn was a 13/8 favourite in the ante post markets. Come the morning of the race, he was widely available at odds of 2/1, with some bookmakers enhancing his price further before he returned to his starting price of 13/8.
There are also risks attached to ante post betting. If a horse is backed ante post and he fails to line up in the race, punters will in all likelihood lose their stake. This can include circumstances such as connections deciding a different race would be more suitable, a horse sustaining an injury and even a horse not loading into stalls immediately prior to the race.
The only exception is if the bet is struck as NRNB (non-runner no bet). This condition voids the bet if the horse fails to line-up in the race. This is something that bookmakers sometimes offer in the weeks prior to a race. For larger meetings (Cheltenham, Aintree etc), bookmakers may offer NRNB for significantly longer. In other sports such as football, tennis, and golf non-runners are far less likely, reducing the risk of losing a stake.
The most famous ante post bets in history were landed in 2016 when Leicester City won the English Barclays Premier League. Odds of 5000/1 were freely available before the start of the season after Leicester City’s narrow escape from relegation in 2015. Even after winning their first two games and going undefeated in their first six, they were still available at four figure odds. It was only in January that bookmakers started taking them seriously. It has gone down as the single biggest shock in sporting history.