Warrington-based Betfred are a familiar sight on high streets in most Northern towns and indeed in most big towns these days and they're famous for their fantastic racing product.
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Betfred, formerly known as Dones, was established in 1967 by Peter and Fred Done. It’s the latter who now chairs and plays an active role in promoting the company, to the extent where you often find his portrait popping up on the website and in adverts. Nevertheless, this is a bookmaker to be taken seriously, especially when you consider they are the world’s biggest independent bookmaker with a combined turnover of £1.5billion!
As is the case with a number of firms, Betfred started out as a series of betting shops in the north-west, gradually branching out geographically before introducing telephone betting in 2002 and launching their online operation in 2004. Fred Done likes to regard himself as the ‘Bonus King’ and the company claim they invented the Lucky 15 bet (mmn, not so sure about that!) and were the first to offer daily early price races in the UK.
Odds and markets
As mentioned, Fred is the self-proclaimed Bonus King and in addition to the stupendous £50 free bet, he's pretty generous with his horse racing offers and promotions. While they're not always the first to go up with their racing odds - bet365 and Hills usually beat them pricing many races up the evening before - they do come with that all-important 'Best Odds Guaranteed' proviso. Having a fleet of betting shops means they can't be too aggressive with their pricing, but we often find them to be top or joint-top price when perusing odds comparison tables and you can usually get a decent bet on.
Where they really excel, though, is on multiple bets with a whopping 5 x the odds
available for one winner in all lucky 63s, while it's 4 x the odds for one winner on all lucky 31s and 3 x the odds for lucky 15s - that beats all other online bookies hands down and applies to all horse racing (and greyhound) races every day!
There's also the opportunity to boost your winnings all the way up to a potential 200%. How? - you may well ask. Get lucky enough to pick out a winning lucky 15/31/63 or a victorious yankee, canadian or heinz using their six listed 'Super Bonus Races', and they'll add a bonus of 15/50/100% on your total winnings. On top of that, they'll apply a 10% bonus to all forecasts and tricasts in such races - these can be found in their 'Horse Racing' section under 'Super Bonus Races', funnily enough.
When it comes to placing your bets, we've always found the Betfred site relatively easy to navigate, although it's perhaps not as dynamic-looking as some of their competitors.
The 'Horse Racing' link is, as you'd expect, found in the menu on left-hand side of the homepage underneath 'Sports Betting', and there's even a 'Next Off' box on the right-hand side. However, we highly recommend you click on the 'Interactive Racecards' graphic on the right-hand side. This opens up the day's racing on a single page and is similar to the Blue Square Bet iCard, which we like very much - both are powered by Racing UK. It's got everything you need really to help you make an informed choice, with stats, news, travellers, steamers and more.
If you've already made your mind up, just click on the individual race link to bring up the list of runners. Here you can check out the latest form (including archived video) and view the 'Predictor', which is based on so-called expert opinion. It's easy to be put off your original selection, especially if you fancy an outsider, but stick to your guns, we say! When you click on a price, the betslip pops up in a separate window and it's all straight forward from that point.
One minor gripe, though, is the fact you don't get a confirmation message after you've placed your bet and have to click on My Account / Statement to be doubly-sure it's been placed. Get it sorted Fred!
Betfred offer customer service between 0700 and 2300 UK Time and this is a very efficient and friendly department who tend to deal promptly with any queries that may arise. It’s also worth noting that they have set up separate e-mailboxes to deal quickly with queries. So depending on whether you have a technical / account / betting / free bet issue, you can contact the relevant address. Expect a response within a couple of hours.