If you’ve placed a bet on horse racing which has won or placed but the returns are lower than you expected, there is a chance that it could be due to a Rule 4 deduction.
In this guide, we’ll be explaining what Rule 4 deductions are, why they’re applied and the impact of them are on your potential returns. You can also use our free Rule 4 Calculator to calculate your returns when a Rule 4 deduction is applied to your bet.
Rule 4 is a deduction which is applied to bets when a non-runner is declared in a horse or greyhound race after the final declarations have been made. It is an industry-wide rule which is standard across all bookmakers and so you don’t have to worry about it varying between bookies.
The reason why Rule 4 is applied is that if a horse is withdrawn from the race, it gives other horses a greater chance of winning. Therefore, the previous odds don’t accurately reflect their chances of winning. A Rule 4 deduction is intended to correct that.
The Rule4 deduction is applied to winnings and the amount deducted depends on the odds of the non-runner at the time it was withdrawn from the race.
Rule 4 deductions can be quite high. In fact, if the non-runner is a strong favourite, the deductions could be as high as 90% of your winnings! This is because the other horses are much more likely to win the race given the favourite is out of the race. However, Rule 4 doesn’t always result in less winnings as no deductions are applied if the non-runner has odds of 14/1 or more.
Rule 4 Table
The Rule 4 table below shows the deduction applied to winnings based on the price of the non-runner at the time which they are withdrawn.
Odds of Non-Runner
Deduction From Winnings per £1
% Deduction From Winnings
1/9 or less
1.11 or less
2/11 to 2/17
1.12 to 1.19
1/4 to 1/5
1.2 to 1.27
3/10 to 2/7
1.28 to 1.33
2/5 to 1/3
1.34 to 1.44
8/15 to 4/9
1.45 to 1.57
8/13 to 4/7
1.58 to 1.66
4/5 to 4/6
1.67 to 1.83
20/21 to 5/6
1.84 to 1.99
1/1 to 6/5
2.0 to 2.24
5/4 to 6/4
2.25 to 2.59
2.6 to 2.79
9/5 to 9/4
2.8 to 3.39
12/5 to 3/1
3.4 to 4.19
16/5 to 4/1
4.2 to 5.4
9/2 to 11/2
5.5 to 6.99
6/1 to 9/1
7.0 to 10.99
10/1 to 14/1
11.0 to 15.0
14/1 or Greater
Rule 4 Example
You place a £10 bet on Red Rum to win the 1.50 at Aintree at odds of 10/1. If Red Run wins, you’d expect a return of £110 with a profit of £100.
After the final declarations, a horse which is priced at 4/1 is declared a non-runner.
At this point, you’re able to calculate your expected returns based on the Rule 4 deduction which will be applied to your winnings should Red Rum win the race.
Looking at the table above, we can see that if a non-runner is priced between 16/5 to 4/1, a 20% deduction, or £0.20 per £1, will be applied to the winnings. Therefore, a deduction of 20% of £100 will be applied.
This means that instead of £100 winnings should Red Rum win, you would receive £80, with a total return of £90 (includes stake).
Rule 4 Calculator
Use the WhichBookie free Rule 4 Calculator below to help you determine the new odds, new profit, new profit of a horse when a non-runner has been declared and Rule 4 applied.
Original odds of your selection
Number of runners when you placed your bet
Each Way Bet? Y/N
Handicap Race? Y/N
Odds of the non-runner (add multiple non-runners if needed)
Rule 4 When There Are Multiple Non-Runners
We now know how to calculate our returns if a horse is withdrawn from the race. However, what happens if multiple horses are withdrawn?
If more than one horse is declared a non-runner, a Rule 4 deduction is applied multiple times one after the other.
After the first Rule 4 deduction has been applied, the next deduction will be based on the new odds and not the original price.
Using the same example as above, we determined that your winnings after the first Rule 4 deduction would be £80 rather than £100. Should a second horse be declared a non-runner, the deduction would apply to the £80 winnings.
For example, if the odds of the second non-runner were 7/1, the table above shows us that a 10% deduction would be applied.
Therefore, our new expected returns would be £80 – 10% = £72.
Rule 4 With Each Way Bets
When Rule 4 is applied, it’s possible that the bookmaker may reduce the number of places they pay out on each way bets for ,due to the size of the field being reduced. However, so long as you have placed your bet before a Rule 4 has been applied, the bookmaker will still pay out on the number of places which were offered when you placed your bet. If you are placing bets after a Rule 4, always check to see how many places are offered.
Although the bookmaker will honour the place payouts after a Rule 4, deductions will still be applied to winnings as they are with win bets and based on the odds of the withdrawn horse.
Rule 4 With ‘Not To Place’ Bets
A similar situation to above occurs if you have bet on a horse ‘not to place’. So long as you have placed your bet before the non-runner is declared, the bookmaker will honor the number of places for your bet.
This situation differs slightly in that because the size of the field has reduced due to the non-runner, your bet actually has less chance of coming in as it is more likely to place or win which is what you have essentially bet against.
Therefore, the Rule 4 will be reversed and your potential winnings will increase rather than decrease based on the odds of the withdrawn horse.
Do Rule 4 Deductions Apply To Stakes?
No. Any deductions made due to Rule 4 will be applied to potential winnings only as shown in the examples above. Your full stake is always returned on winning bets regardless of whether or not a Rule 4 deduction has been applied.
Are Rule 4 Deductions Always The Same?
Generally, yes. Rule 4 deductions are an industry standard and the same deductions are applied with all bookmakers. However, some bookmakers have chosen to ignore the 5% Rule 4 deduction which is sometimes applied when horses priced at 10/1 – 14/1 are withdrawn. Therefore, when betting with these bookies such as Ladbrokes, Rule 4 deductions apply when non-runners are priced at below 10/1. Any non-runners prices at 10/1 or above will not initiate Rule 4.
If you want to get into the finer details, you may also find some minor differences in deductions when bookmakers convert fractional odds to decimal. However, these differences are generally negligible and not usually a cause for concern.
Although the Rule 4 deduction is the same across all bookies, the actual amount deducted may not be due to bookmakers offering different odds on horses.
For example, a non-runner may be priced at 4/1 with one bookie which would mean a Rule 4 deduction of 20% is applied but may be priced at 9/2 with another bookie which would be a deduction of only 15% is applied.
Does Rule 4 Apply To Ante-Post Bets?
No. Rule 4 deductions do not apply to ante-post bets. Ante-post bets are bets placed generally 24 hours or more before a race is set to start and are exempt from Rule 4 deductions.
There are pro’s and cons with ante-post bets with this being one of the main advantages along with being able to get greater odds. Of course, the main disadvantage is that there is a greater chance that your horse will not run due to injury or other and usually, stakes are not refunded in these circumstances.
Does Rule 4 Apply To Greyhound Racing?
Yes, Rule 4 applies to both horse and greyhound races with deductions being the same based on the table above.
January 27, 2021
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