Bet Like A Pro – Tote Exacta (Part II)

Last week we examined the straight Tote Exacta and the situations that it can be a useful tool in your betting arsenal. Today we will look at a more complex Tote Exacta option; the combination Tote Exacta. If you are not already familiar with the product, you can find more information about minimum stake size and how to calculate the cost of your Tote Exacta bet here.

This bet allows you to pick any number of horses in a race and if they finish first and second in any order, you win.  This can prove a lucrative bet when tackling large field handicaps in particular. It requires you to make a short-list of contenders from those declared in the race, try not to be influenced by their price to win when doing this. If you think a big price horse can run a big race then trust yourself, you could be rewarded with a huge payout. The Combination Tote Exacta is perfect for competitive races where you would struggle to find the winner and gives you several chances to get a good return. Take the Hurdle at Leopardstown in January 2016 as an example;

coral hurdle

This was a very open 23-runner handicap with the favourite at 9/2 and 10 horses at 16/1 or under.  You may have had a strong fancy on something to win in races like this but I and the large majority of people would have backed something each-way and hoped to get lucky. You might that you are still only hoping to get lucky by playing a combination Tote Exacta. The difference is, a combination tote Exacta gives you a greater spread of horses and the potential for much greater winnings.

If we say hypothetically that you would usually spend €20 on this race (presumably a €10 each-way). Even taking at the best result possible; that you found Henry Higgins, your return would be €311 (€263 for the win and €48 for the place using the Tote prices) for a profit of €291.

Had you backed Kalkir, Desoto County or Tigris River your returns would have been €30, €22 and €56 respectively. Of course, if you had backed anything else in the race you would have no return.

Consider this, for a similar outlay (€24) in a combination Tote Exacta you could have taken your choice of four horses. Had you included Henry Higgins and Kalkir you would have pocketed a tasty €387.70 (€363.70 profit). This gives you space for two of you four horses to run absolute stinkers and you still could take home a big profit. Think this was a fluke result? Think again.

Here is an example from day two of Irish Champions Weekend 2015 where George Bowen (8/1) beat Master Speaker (18/1):

ICW card


And another from the Galway Festival 2015 where Powersbomb (12/1) beat Bank Bonus (9/1):

Galway result


The reality is that combinations Tote Exactas are the best way to approach open big field races. The three shown here are obviously some of the better examples to illustrate this point, but you can look for yourself. There are countless examples.


This doesn’t mean that you should use combination Tote Exactas all the time in fact quite the opposite.  It is a bet that is commonly misused which can lead customers to become disillusioned with the bet. A classic example of how not to use combination Tote Exactas was Douvan’s chasing debut at Navan:

Navan Douvan


Douvan was a very short price favourite to win which he did with ease from second favourite Rogue Trader and successful Tote Exacta customers got €2.20 for correctly predicting the obvious result. But it isn’t this that interests me, it is the fact that Rogue Trader to beat Douvan was the second most popular Tote Exacta selection in the race. This was a result of customers incorrectly playing a combination Tote Exacta in the blind hope that they could get a better payout from Douvan being turned over.

There is a major flaw in this thinking, Douvan was by far the most likely horse to win the race but he was nowhere near the most likely horse to come second. If he didn’t win the race it was because he fell or was brought down or his saddle slipped etc.

The scenario for Douvan to come second in the race in much more convoluted, maybe he makes an awful mistake early and flies home to get second or maybe he jumps extremely poorly so that Rogue Trader can beat him but still well enough that he can beat everyone else. Unlikely, and definitely not the second most likely thing to happen in the race. But yet there were plenty of people on it and would have sworn against playing a combination Tote Exacta again when receiving their €2.20 return.

This again is why bet selection is crucial not just by day or by race type but by each individual race. 


  • Use combination Tote Exacta in open large field races to give you a greater spread and a potentially bigger payout.
  • Do not put short priced favourites in Combination Tote Exactas. It isn’t worth it.


As always I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments so feel free to leave them in the box below.

The second part of the ‘Bet Like A Pro’ series will be available on Wednesday 10th February.

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