What is Rule 4?

Last updated February 12th, 2020

Newcomers to betting on horse racing do get confused by Rule 4. We have tried to explain it as clearly as possible. Please note, we are not defending Rule 4, as one reader suggested we might be, but merely clarifying it.

Rule 4 is an industry-standard deduction that is made on a horse or dog when there is a non-runner in a race after the final declarations for that race have been made and you have taken a fixed odds price.

For example, if you have £10 win on a horse and take 5/1 (6.0 in decimal odds) and the 2/1 (3.0) favourite then becomes a non-runner, your 5/1 (6.0) is looking very generous.

On markets on the day of a race anyone who backs a non-runner will get their stakes refunded. Those people who backed the 2/1 shot will have their money refunded and therefore Rule 4 exists to make a deduction from your bet on the 5/1 shot. This is because if the 2/1 favourite had not been in the betting for the race when you placed your bet your 5/1 shot may have been, say 3/1.

Rule 4 deductions only occur AFTER the final declarations for a race are made. This is when non-runners mean you get your stake back. Usually, but not always, the final declaration stage is 24 hours before the race. It can be 48 hours before a race.

Rule 4 does not apply to any ante-post market. Ante-post or futures markets are betting on a horse race before the final declarations are known. If you back a non-runner in an ante-post market then you do not get your money back so obviously no Rule 4 is applied to the people who are holding bets on horses that benefit from this non-runner.

The official Tattersalls Rule 4 deductions, as applied by all UK bookies, are as follows:

  • a) If the current odds of the non-runner are 1/9 or shorter at the time the non-runner withdraws from the race, then 90p in £/E/$ is deducted (or 90% of winnings)
  • b) If over 2/11 up to and including 2/17, 85% of winnings deducted
  • c) If over 1/4 up to and including 1/5, 80% of winnings deducted
  • d) If over 3/10 up to & including 2/5, 70% of winnings deducted
  • e) If over 2/5 up to and including 8/15, 65% of winnings deducted
  • f) If over 8/15 up to and including 8/13, 60% of winnings deducted
  • g) If over 8/13 up to and including 4/5, 55% of winnings deducted
  • h) If over 4/5 up to and including 20/21, 50% of winnings deducted
  • i) If over 20/21 up to and including 6/5, 45% of winnings deducted
  • j) If over 6/5 up to and including 6/4, 40% of winnings deducted
  • k) If over 6/4 up to and including 7/4, 35% of winnings deducted
  • l) If over 7/4 up to and including 9/4, 30% of winnings deducted
  • m) If over 9/4 up to and including 3/1, 25% of winnings deducted
  • n) If over 3/1 up to and including 4/1, 20% of winnings deducted
  • o) If over 4/1 up to and including 11/2, 15% of winnings deducted
  • p) If over 11/2 up to and including 9/1, 10% of winnings deducted
  • q) If over 9/1 up to and including 14/1, 5% of winnings deducted
  • r) If the non-runner is over 14/1 then there is no deduction

In the event of there being two or more withdrawals in one event, the total deduction shall not exceed 90p in £ (or 90% of the winnings). The Rule 4 deduction is not applied to the winning client’s returned stake, only to their winnings.

Can Rule 4 apply to anything other than horse or dog racing?

Yes. This is possible on general sports. Outright markets (defined as after the draw/official field is confirmed for a specific event) may be subject to a deduction equivalent to Tattersalls Rule 4. The Rule 4 will be applied, according to the table of deductions related to Horse Racing.