This is a bet on a horse coming first, second or third.
When you stake a Place bet on a horse you will receive a pay-off if your horse makes first, second or third place – if it places - as opposed to i.e. a Win bet, which only pays off if your horse comes first. Because of this a place bet gives you a greater chance of winning.
However, the odds on a Place bet are usually much lower than the odds on other types of bets. Since you have a higher chance of winning, the pay-off is kept lower in order to protect the bookmaker from financial ruin.
For example, the odds for your horse might read Midnight Falcon – 13/2, meaning that for every £2 you bet, you get a pay-off of £13 should your horse win. However, this does not apply to the Place bet.
On the bottom of your race card you will find a small section with the information on the odds for place bets. It may look like this:
1/4 Odds Place 1,2,3
This means that a won Place bet will pay off £1 for every £4 you wager.
You have made a Place bet on Midnight Falcon, your mate made a Win bet on the same horse. Both of you have set £2. Midnight Falcon wins. Your mate, with the benefit of the full odds, wins £13 plus his £2 back; you, with the odds for a Place bet, win 50 cents plus your £2 back. This may seem unfair.
However, if Midnight Falcon places second or third your mate gets nothing but you still win your 50 cents. Although there is not as much money to be made with a Place bet, the chances of winning at least a little are much higher than with the more specific bets, making it a nice bet for beginners.