What are Non-Runners and How Does Rule 4 Work

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Carl Hughes Betting Expert

Updated:February 10, 2023

When you’re thinking of placing a bet, there are lots of things that you’ll be considering. You’ll want to know which horse has the best odds, and whether they’re the best horse to bet on. Once you’ve done all that work and placed that bet at an online betting site, you may well find that the horse is a non runner. What does that mean, and what happens to your bet once this happens?

What Sports Do Non-Runners Happen In?

In most cases, you’ll hear the concept of non-runners being discussed in terms of horse racing. It is the sport that it happens the most in, so it’s very common to see that happen when you make bets. However, horse racing non runners aren’t the only ones that you’ll find.

Non-runners can happen in almost any sport. As a non runner will be any competitor that pulls out ahead of a game or race, then you can see this show up in almost any bet you make. However, as horse racing non runners are the most common, it makes it easier to explain them in these terms.

What Is A Non Runner?

Ok, so what does it mean if a horse is a non runner? Essentially, a non runner will be any horse that was initially entered into a race, but then was removed before the race started.

There are a lot of reasons why a horse may be become a non runner before the race. When preparing for race day, the trainers and owners will be considering which races to enter their horses into. There are lots of things that go into this decision, such as considering whether they have a good chance of winning, or whether they’ll get the most experience from the race.

On race day, they’ll have to again make sure they’re entering their horse into the right races. They may decide to pull them from a race because of the horse’s mood, or because they feel they want to enter the horse into a different race instead.

Some of the factors involved in horse racing non runners can’t be anticipated ahead of time. If the horse gets an injury, then they won’t be able to race. Poor weather conditions can also affect racing, and so if the horse won’t do well in those conditions then they may be removed due to these.

It’s important to note that a non runner is a different thing to a horse that was disqualified from a race. If a horse was disqualified, they’ve already run the race but their results are disqualified afterwards. A non runner never ran to begin with, so were never on the track.

What Happens To Your Bets?

Now you understand what horse racing non runners are, you need to see what will happen to the bets you made.

What happens to your bet will depend on when it was placed. Typically, a horse racing bet can be made either ante-post, or before the race, or on race day itself.

If your horse becomes a non runner on an ante-post bet, then typically you’ll see that the betting site you use will take the money and there isn’t too much you can do about it. That is the risk of betting before a race, and one that you may want to take if you’re going to get good odds that way.

However, it’s different if you’ve bet on the day. At some point on the day, typically around 10am, the horses will be declared for the race. If your horse becomes a non runner after that point, then your bet will typically be declared void. When that happens, your stake is refunded to you. Typically you won’t need to do anything to get that refund, as the stake will be returned to you automatically by the betting site.

There are exceptions to these rules however, that you’ll want to look into. For example, betting sites will often have deals happening when big horse racing events are happening. Some of these offers will include the ability to get ante-post bets voided if your horse becomes a non runner.

When looking for offers like these, look for Non-Runner, No Bet offers, or NRNB. These will allow you to make those bets on the longer odds, without the risk of losing your stake.

Remember that having a non-runner in the race you’ve bet on will affect you, even if you bet on a different horse. With less horses in the race, that will change how many places that your betting site will pay out on for Each Way bets.

Non-Runners And Acca Bets

If you’re placing an accumulator, or acca bet, then these will be affected too by horse racing non runners. What happens if one of your selections becomes a non runner?

In this instance, the non runner will be removed from the bet, and so the bet will change to reflect this. However, if you placed the bet as an ante-post bet without NRNB, then the entire bet will become a loser. Keep this in mind when making your bets.

Rule 4 And Non-Runners

You may well have heard of Rule 4 before, especially when it comes to horse racing, but you’re not really sure what it means. It’s a rule that aims to ensure that neither betting sites or punters are left out of pocket if a horse becomes a non runner. Your bookmaker will be calculating their odds, in part, based on the amount of horses that are running. If one drops out then it will affect those calculations, so Rule 4 is designed to compensate for this.

The rule will come into effect when you have a bet on a horse in a race that has a non runner in it, but you’ve bet on a horse that’s still included. When this happens, each bet is adjusted according to the odds placed on the non-runner. As such, you’ll have a percentage deducted from your bet to reflect this.

This works like so: for every £1 of winnings you would have earned on your bet, you’ll be deducted a percentage depending on the odds of the horse that didn’t run. For example, if the non-runner had odds of 10/1 to 14/1, then 5% of every £1 is deducted. The longer the odds were, the less you’ll be deducted. That will be because the bookmaker thought the horse has less chance of winning.

One of the most important things to know is that bookmakers have to stick to this rule. The only time they can deviate is if it would benefit you more to do so. In short, that means that they can’t use Rule 4 to make more money themselves if a horse is a non runner.

Now you’ll have an idea of how non-runners work in horse racing and other sports. They will affect bets, but if you’re prepared for it then you can plan your bets accordingly.

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About the author

Carl Hughes

Editor

Carl Hughes

Editor

Carl Hughes is a leading expert on sports and casino betting. Carl began his career with a BSc in Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences from the University of Birmingham before working within the industry for some of the bigger names (GVC and Bet365) and has been praised as being "a leading sports betting commentator".