Forecast and Tricast Betting

Forecast Betting SlipSometimes simply picking the winner in a given event doesn’t quite cut the mustard for you. There might be a red hot favourite who is so likely to win that their odds are restrictively short (and hence barely worth backing) or, alternatively, you might be seeking a sizeable win from a relatively small stake. In either scenario, forecast or tricast betting could be well worth considering.

Here we will arm you with all the information you require to first understand and then utilise forecast and tricast bets, which are particularly popular for betting on horse racing and greyhound racing but which – as we shall explain later – can also be used when betting on other sports.

Forecast/Tricast Betting Basics

Forecast and tricast betting started life as parimutuel betting options for horse racing, that is bets that are placed together in pools and for which the returns are calculated based on the number and value of the bets placed in that pool and the number of bets placed on particular outcomes. The payout is worked out after any relevant taxes and also after the bookie has taken their cut (or “vigorish”) and it is distributed between the punters who backed that particular outcome. The payout for these types of bets is called the dividend and is quoted based on the returns (including stake) of a £1, or one unit in other currencies, bet.

Of course, like many things in the world of gambling, things aren’t always as simple as they first appear. There are “pure” parimutuel forecast and tricast bets that pay out dividends based on the odds AND the number of people who have backed a certain outcome (as offered by Tote and called Exacta and Trifecta bets respectively). But the vast majority of bookies calculate their dividends using computer algorithms which are based on the betting odds in isolation, not taking into account the number of people who have bet on any given outcome.

The dividends for horse racing forecasts in the UK, for example, are calculated using the Computer Straight Forecast (CSF) formula while tricast dividends are calculated using the Tricast formula. Both – along with the Tote Exacta dividend – are declared soon after the finish of any qualifying horse race. The bigger the odds of the selected horses, the bigger the potential dividends, but factors such as the number of runners and the presence or otherwise of a strong favourite will also affect the dividends.

While a good number of forecast and tricast bets – particularly for horse racing and greyhound racing bets – are still based on these parimutuel systems, some bookies will offer fixed odds forecasts and tricasts on some markets, for example when picking the winner and runner up in a golf tournament.

Forecast Betting

In its simplest form, a forecast bet is a way to back the winner and the runner up in a given event. It is often used as a way to increase the returns from a given stake if a punter is confident of picking the winner of an event and at least hopeful of picking the runner up.

Straight Forecast

A straight forecast is a single bet in which the punter picks the horse (or dog, team, player or whatever) that wins the race (tournament, event and so on) and the one who finishes second. This will offer effective odds that are greater than simply betting on the winner, but obviously the chances of picking the winner and the runner up are not as great.

For example, a £10 straight forecast on Sprinter Sacre to beat Red Rum would mean the bet pays out only if Sprinter Sacre wins the race and Red Rum finishes in second. The greater the odds of the two runners, the greater the dividend (pay out) will be, though given that this is based on complex calculations that take into account a number of factors, you will generally not know what the pay-out will be until after the race has finished.

Reverse Forecast

Sometimes known as a dual forecast, the reverse forecast bet is a little like an each way version of the straight forecast, although it pays out at full odds. It will pay out if your two chosen selections finish first and second but – unlike the straight forecast – they can be in either order. While this clearly gives you a bit more room for error, it is essentially two bets and hence it will be double the stake of a straight forecast.

For example, using the horses above, your £10 reverse forecast on Sprinter Sacre and Red Rum would cost you £20 (as it is two £10 bets) and as long as the two horses finish in the top two, it doesn’t matter which wins and which comes second, you will still win. That said, the order the horses finish will impact your dividend, with a larger win should the less fancied horse win and the shorter priced horse come second.

Combination Forecast

A combination forecast is similar to the reverse forecast in that it doesn’t matter in which order your selections finish. However, the difference here is that in a combination forecast you pick three or more selections with the bet winning if any two of your selections finish in the top two positions in the race/event.

It should be noted that the more selections you make, the greater the number of possible combinations there are to finish in the top two, and thus your stake will increase accordingly:

  • A £10 combination forecast with four selections would be 12 bets and hence cost £120
  • A £10 combination forecast with five selections would be 20 bets and hence cost £200
  • And so on…


The Exacta bet is run by Tote and is basically the same as the straight forecast bet but the dividend is calculated in a slightly different way – that is to take into account the number of bettors and stakes. It sometimes pays out at a higher level than the CSF-calculated straight forecast, and sometimes at a lower level.

Tricast Betting

Tricast betting is very similar to that of forecasts but with the subtle difference that instead of picking the first two in a given race or event, you are instead trying to pick the first three. This means that the chances of you being successful are reduced in relation to a forecast bet, but conversely, your dividend – if you win – will be significantly larger.

Straight Tricast

The straight tricast requires the bettor to predict the first three finishers in a race in the correct order. This is a single bet and can bring in very large dividends that run into hundreds or even thousands of pounds.

Combination Tricast

Much like the combination forecast, the combination tricast gives you a better chance of winning, but costs you more in terms of your stake. The most basic combination tricast involves you selecting three horses which can then finish in any order in the top three for you to win, but this will work out at six bets and hence cost six times your unit stake.

You can increase your chances of success even more by selecting more than three horses in a given race, but it can prove expensive to do so with just four selections meaning you’d be placing 24 bets and five selections meaning 60 bets were required (so that’s £600 for a £10 combination tricast with five selections!)


Tricasts are known as trifectas in some areas of the world, but in the UK the Trifecta bet is Tote’s version of the straight tricast that allows for rollovers from previous qualifying races if no one has correctly predicted the top three horses in the correct order.

Which Sports Can I Bet On Using Forecasts Or Tricasts?

There are ways to use forecasts or tricasts on more or less any sport or event from football to snooker, tennis to golf. There are clearly some sports that lend themselves to forecast betting more than others, with horse racing and greyhound racing being the obvious examples in that they almost always have a winner and a runner up (though things like dead heats and stewards’ enquiries can sully the waters somewhat so always read the full terms and conditions before placing your bets).

As explained above, the dividends for horse racing and greyhound racing forecasts and tricasts are based on parimutuel-style betting calculations, whereas for other sports the bookies tend to offer fixed odds forecasts and tricasts. Here are some examples of the type of betting markets that allow for these types of bets in sports other than horse racing and greyhound racing.

  • Football - Some bookies will offers straight forecasts, dual (reverse) forecasts and tricasts on the winner and next one or two finishers in certain competitions and tournaments including the Premier League. For tournaments like the World Cup, the dual forecast is essentially the same bet as you might place in the “name the finalists” market.
  • Golf - Straight and dual forecast bets are offered in many tournaments especially the four major championships.
  • Tennis - As with golf, straight and dual forecasts tend to be offered by the bookies for the Grand Slam tournaments, although this is the same market as a “name the finalists” bet.
  • Formula 1 - Straight and dual forecasts and sometimes tricasts are offered for Grands Prix.
  • Rugby - Straight and dual forecasts are offered in the biggest tournaments such as the Rugby World Cup – again, a name the finalists bet in a different guise.

Essentially, any sport that has tournaments or events in which there is a defined order – such as finishing first or second in a knockout competition – is likely to have opportunities for forecast betting and often tricast betting too.

Forecast/Tricast Betting Strategies

While it might be tempting to seek out a massive win when planning these kinds of bets, it is worth tempering your ambitions somewhat for the simple reason that these are not easy to win. If we take a horse race with just six runners, there are 30 different combinations of straight forecasts. As such, don’t bet your house on a straight tricast on an eight horse race for which there are 336 distinct tricast possibilities!

Obviously some horses will have a better chance than others to finish first, second or third, but the best strategy when it comes to forecast and tricast betting is really not to attempt to use them as a money-making venture, but rather as a bit of fun, a smake stake side bet that might just bring in a very tidy profit but which – let’s be honest – is going to lose more often than win.