Rule 4s Explained

Rule 4s Explained
© Racing Post / Patrick McCann
Owen Goulding
Tuesday 8th January 2019

What is a Rule 4?

Put simply, the Tattersalls Rule 4 is a deduction made to all winning returns earned from bets placed before a non-runner has been declared. This rule only comes into effect if the withdrawal follows the official declarations having been made and only affects those who have taken their horse’s price i.e. not bet at Starting Price (SP). The ‘official declarations’ for each field are usually made 24 hours before each race on the jumps and two days prior for the flat, though this can vary depending on the race.

When will there be no Rule 4 on my bet?

“Rule 4” will not affect those placing ante-post wagers or taking a selection’s SP (starting price). You will also be free from a Rule 4 hit if you placed your bet following the removal of all non-runners. This is due to the fact that bookmakers will readjust their early prices once a horse has been taken from the field, meaning that the price you have taken will already have had the removal of the non-runner factored in.

There is no flat charge to be applied to winnings; instead, the amount depends upon the price of the non-runner, the shorter the odds, the larger the deduction. If there is more than one non-runner after you place your bet, add the deductions together to find the total deduction on your winnings. A full list of deductions can be found below.

Why are Rule 4s enforced?

In short, Rule 4 maintains a level of fairness, protecting the integrity of bookmakers’ prices by allowing for these late withdrawals.

Imagine for a second that you had backed a horse at the fixed price of 10/1 only for the evens favourite to be pulled from the field with a couple of hours remaining. You would have received a huge price considering the horse expected to win the race was no longer running! With Rule 4, however, the deduction is made to bring your price in line with the price the bookmakers would have offered you had they known that the non-runner wasn’t going to run.

In contrast, however, let’s say that instead of the race having this evens favourite removed, it was the 33/1 outsider that failed to make it to the start line. As the removal of this horse will have had a lesser effect on the prices of its fellow runners, no Rule 4 is applied to returns. This makes it much fairer than a flat fee.

The following list sets out the possible deductions you may face for backing a horse after the official declarations have been made but prior to a late non-runner being announced. Bear in mind that these charges only affect your winnings and not the stake that will be returned.

Guide to Rule 4 Possible Deductions

Price at withdrawal and amount decided in the pound from winnings:

  • 1/9 or shorter = 90p
  • 2/11 to 2/17 = 85p
  • 1/4 to 1/5 = 80p
  • 3/10 to 2/7 = 75p
  • 2/5 to 1/3 = 70p
  • 8/15 to 4/9 = 65p
  • 8/13 to 4/7 = 60p
  • 4/5 to 4/6 = 55p
  • 20/21 to 5/6 = 50p
  • Evens to 6/5 = 50p
  • 5/4 to 6/4 = 40p
  • 13/8 to 7/4 = 35p
  • 15/8 to 9/4 = 30p
  • 5/2 to 3/1 = 25p
  • 10/3 to 4/1 = 20p
  • 9/2 to 11/2 = 15p
  • 6/1 to 9/1 = 10p
  • 10/1 to 14/1 = 5p
  • Over 14/1 = No deduction

It is worth remembering that the chances of getting a deduction at the top end of this scale are slim, and it is far more common to have a 5p, 10p or 15p Rule 4 than it is to have a 50p or 60p Rule 4. Some bookmakers also choose to forgo the 5% deduction for withdrawn horses with odds of between 10/1 and 14/1 (inclusive), so make sure you check out the terms and conditions of your turf accountant!

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