What Does SP Stand for in Betting? [+ Betting Strategies]


If you’ve ever visited an online or land-based bookmaker, you’ve likely seen the letters SP listed among the odds and wondered what it meant. Our guide explains what SP is, if you should use it, and when.

What Does SP Mean in Betting - Image 1

What Does SP Mean in Betting?

The acronym SP stands for ‘starting price’ in sports betting, used exclusively in racing—most commonly in horse racing and greyhound racing.

A starting price shows the odds at which a particular selection will begin the race. It’s essential to note that the odds reflected by the starting price can fluctuate before the race starts, and they may not match the fixed odds offered by the bookmaker.

The question of what is SP in betting, however, can best be understood when considering when and where it’s used.

DID YOU KNOW? Gambling statistics for the UK reveal that Brits like to bet on sports. At least 7% of the adult population has placed a sports bet in one year, with football the most popular sport, closely followed by horse racing.

When Is SP Used?

How is SP betting used? First, bookmakers don’t always use the starting price. The SP on a selection is typically published one day before the race. So the necessary information on a horse, for example, is not yet available. The bookmaker cannot offer fixed odds without knowing all the particulars.

SP or Fixed Odds?

Bookmakers provide the SP as a rough estimate that enables bettors to place a bet one day before the race. But if you decide to wait until the day of the race to bet, you’re free to choose between the SP and the fixed odds—whichever you think will bring a more substantial profit.

The betting SP can also be helpful when the bookmaker doesn’t have a Best Odds Guaranteed option, and the odds would likely fluctuate. (Remember that each time you decide to bet on the SP, you risk the current price being better than the starting price.)

Early Price vs Starting Price

In betting, the term ‘early price’ refers to the first price offered on race day, whereas the SP refers to the price at which the selection begins the race. But there’s no guarantee that the early price will be higher than the SP. So if you understand the SP meaning in betting and don’t wish to wait until the last moment, you might be better off placing a bet with the SP odds.

DID YOU KNOW? Sports betting saw a surge in popularity in the UK in the 1790s. Harry Ogden was among the first to offer various odds for different selections in horse races, based on the horse’s physique or previous achievements.

What Does SP Mean in Horse Racing?

As previously mentioned, the SP is used only for betting on races—specifically, horse and greyhound betting. But it’s especially essential for betting on horses. Bookmakers use the SP to calculate forecast and tricast bets, while the bettors watch for the SP favourite to include it in multi-leg system bets. By observing previous SPs for a horse, punters can predict the outcome of an upcoming race. So checking out older SPs on a horse is a good idea.

The Odds vs SP

The odds are highly volatile in SP horse racing and change by the minute before the race. Sometimes, only five minutes before a race serves as a determining factor. Additionally, the number of bets placed on a horse can significantly impact the final odds.

So if bookies or betting sites don’t offer Best Odds Guaranteed, in most cases, you’ll be better off betting on the SP. But remember, you’re always taking a chance when betting on the starting price in horse racing.

DID YOU KNOW? The SP’s highest odds ever on a horse race was placed on the winner Kilahara Castle at 1000/1 in 2017. Man o’ War managed to win at the lowest odds at a starting price of 1/100.

Key Takeaways

SP stands for starting price and displays odds in horse and greyhound racing.
Bookies offer the SP one day before the start of the race.
SPs show the odds at which the horse is running at the start of the race.
The SP is subject to fluctuations and may be higher or lower than the fixed odds.
SP calculations consider both the lowest and highest odds and divide them into equal halves.

How to Work Out the SP

Historically, a panel of officials calculated an SP in betting on a race based on the on-course fixed-odds provided by bookmakers at the beginning of the race. Today, things are slightly different in the UK. The starting price is calculated by the Starting Price Regulatory Commission (SPRC).

How Does the SPRC Calculate the SP?

The SPRC looks at the odds (from lowest to highest) offered by on-course bookies and divides them into equal halves. The SP betting meaning shows that the SP is the shortest price in the highest-odds half.

If there aren’t any on-course bookies, the SPRC will then look at the odds offered by select online bookmakers and betting sites and conduct the same process. This method is used to ensure that at least half of the bookmakers accepting bets on a horse have offered higher odds for the horse.

How Is the SP Displayed?

What does SP mean in betting should include how to identify it. Depending on the bookmaker, there are various ways that an SP can be displayed on racecards. Most bookmakers, however, opt to show the starting price either in decimal or fractional odds.

You can find the SP displayed as a fraction (e.g., 2/1, 11/4, 85/40 ), but, recently, decimals have become a more popular option for showing betting odds. So you can also see them listed as decimal numbers (e.g., 3.0, 3.75, 3.13).

It’s also essential to remember that the stake from the SP in a horse racing bet will be returned if the horse is withdrawn from the race before the start.

DID YOU KNOW? Each-way bets are popular options for betting on horse racing. They enable punters to place two bets on the same horse—one for a win and one to place. Subsequently, the winning chances increase significantly.

Pros and Cons of Using an SP

Similar to other types of betting, SP betting has advantages and disadvantages. In summary, consider the following pros and cons of placing an SP bet.

Pros Cons
Allows bet placement a day before the race Subject to market fluctuations
Can produce higher payouts Can produce lower payouts
Excellent option if there are no Best Odds Guaranteed
Stake returned if a horse is withdrawn
DID YOU KNOW? Many think that all forms of betting come with risks, but this is not the case. Matched betting is a no-risk form of gambling involving backers and layers to produce substantial returns. If you’re a cautious bettor, this is the right choice for you.


Once you’ve learned what is SP in horse racing, you can safely say that you understand how it works across all types of races and disciplines.

All that’s left to say is that SP bets may not be the most secure bets out there, but if successful, they’ll produce excellent payouts. If you’re still in doubt, you should definitely give it a go!


What does SP win mean in horse racing?

An SP win stands for ‘starting price win’, indicating that the selection from the bet placed with SP odds has won. It also means that the bettor will be paid out according to the SP odds.

Is it good to bet on SP?

What does SP mean in betting? Placing a bet with an SP can be very profitable, but it also involves a certain level of risk. If the fixed odds are higher than the SP, then the payout from the SP bet will be lower.

18+ Gambling



Alex is an IT wizz gone SEO gone fire-juggler. We’re not even joking. When he isn’t researching why one personal loan is better than the other and which piece of hardware you should buy next, he’s rollerblading or selling homes (because he does that, too, the smarty-pants).

Latest from Aleksandar

Which US Banks Offer 5% Savings Accounts? A Guide to Living Off the Grid [7 Things You Need to Know] How to Become an Appraiser in 2024 How to Flip Houses With No Money in 2024

Leave a Reply