Have today’s astute form analysts become a little too smart for their own good? I think so.

In terms of acquiring frequent value, they have become victims of their own knowledge.

Databases, video form, extensive media coverage and a host of other aids give the contemporary punter a marked advantage over their counterparts of years gone by.

Shrewd operators of today have little problem isolating pertinent information and performances suggestive of imminent winning form. It seems not much gets through to the ‘keeper these days.

Many analysts are media-employed and thus direct much of this information into the public arena. Information, as such, certainly has impact value on the market assessment of many runners. On any race eve a horse may be correctly rated at 5/1 but on race day the price may tumble in several points, not on what would be deemed serious race considerations but purely on the evaluation of well-regarded media tipsters.

Couple this with form horses ridden by form riders and value on many runners is suppressed to a level below what their perceived chances would appear to be.

Of all the platforms and bet types currently available, is there one that continually exhibits value? The answer is a very definite “yes”.

My research over a number of years has revealed that the quadrella, from a pure value perspective, is vastly superior to any other aspect of horse wagering.

If one peruses TAB archival results evaluating the net rollover of each individual win dividend against the quaddie divvy, the majority of the time the quaddie is far superior. At times it is staggeringly superior!

This point is illustrated with the result of the Flemington quadrella on July 2. Winners of the legs and their respective win dividends were as follows: Leone Chiara $4.60, Live In Vain $7.70, Korcula $10.40 and Willie Command $18.80. An all-up rollover of the win dividends here would yield a return of $6,925, but the quaddie dividend returned a very impressive $14,048!

This example is not isolated and is fairly indicative of the enormous percentage “overs” associated with quadrella betting.

The quaddie, as most would know, is an exotic bet that requires punters to select the winners of four designated races. All four winners must be selected to secure a dividend.

For those who possess the expertise to unravel the quaddie conundrum on a regular basis, great wealth awaits. For most, however, the gleaning of an expected profit line poses insurmountable obstacles.

Until recently this facet of race wagering has largely been the domain of professional punters and large cash syndicates. This sector has the resources to couple considerable numbers in each of the four legs, thus appreciably reducing the risk factor involved.

For most punters the dilemma is cash restraints. Multiples quickly add up. The combination of only five horses in each leg costs $625, and even based on the 50c unit an outlay of $312 on a weekly basis is not sustainable for the average punter.

Basically, their minimal outlays on insufficient permutations merely fatten the pools for the “big boys” who cash in on the suicidal betting practice of the masses. Historically this has very much been a scenario of money makes money.

However, a ray of hope has entered the arena. The recent innovation introduced by the NSW TAB, known as FLEXI BETTING, has virtually thrown a lifeline to the smaller punters of the world who wish to indulge themselves in benefitting from regular quaddie wins.

Flexi betting enables the punter to take any percentage of the total wager cost, as opposed to the fixed 50 per cent minimum of days gone by.

The payout and outlay figure is a percentage equal to what the punter has stipulated. If we refer back to the five horse per leg example above, the minimum cost of recent times would have been $312. Now the punter may elect to take only 20 per cent of the full cost ($625), an outlay of $125.

This has created a tremendous window of opportunity, enabling punters to tie up large combinations at reduced rates. Punters may not be initially overjoyed with marginal returns, but closer scrutiny reveals there is very good money to be made, even at reduced rates, given the average dividends involved.

Any form of betting should be approached with a game plan and strategies. Here are the strategies which have enabled me to treble my initial bank in four months.

I use a three leg load up and anchor approach. The anchor leg is the “skinny” leg in which hopes are pinned on isolating the winner with only two to three selections.

My first strike was on the second attempt in the C.F. Orr Stakes meeting at Caulfield in February. The Orr Stakes itself appealed as the easiest of the four legs. This became the anchor leg. I was comfortable with the analysis that the winner would come from three runners, Elvstroem, Regal Roller and Savabeel.

Elvstroem was the eventual winner and I collected $884 for a $151 outlay, a combination linkup of 3x7x6x6, taking a 20 per cent share of the total cost.

By suppressing the numbers to two or three in an anchor leg scenario this then allows a reasonably comprehensive coverage of the remaining legs.

A typical example would be 8x3x7x8, where the second leg is the anchor. In most cases, several runners can be eliminated from each leg with realistic safety, thus reducing field size and increasing coverage.

Full costing of an 8x3x7x8 combination would be $1,344. A 10 per cent take at a cost of $134 is well within many punters’ weekly racing budget. With good coverage in three of the legs we endeavour to give ourselves every opportunity to land long priced results.

Ten per cent of a $20,000, $30,000 or $40,000 quaddie payout is a sizeable dividend in its own right.

The challenging aspect now is being skilful enough to pull through on the minimal anchor leg. Unlike the methodology associated with many racing plans that require a high degree of winners to service the procedure, quaddie based punting can show excellent returns founded on only a few large divvies per annum. If we outlay an average of $125 per week over 40 weeks (I use only 40 weeks because there will be times in the course of the year when it will be simply unsatisfactory to wager every week) this will be an outlay of $5,000 per annum.

This can be recouped by only TWO collects of a $10,000 quaddie at 25 per cent. Given the number of permutations offered by the flexi concept this is a realistic and achievable aim. If we work on a practical strike rate of one in four collects, then encouraging profit margins await.

Although in essence we are playing a numbers game in the load up legs we must be careful not to overcook it. Remember, the more runners the greater the cost.

A balance has to be struck between outlay and expected return. Skilful trimming of the legs needs to be implemented. Culling of horses with sub-standard form, bad barriers, and with distance, track and class queries over them are to be seriously considered when trying to weed out runners that represent a liability.

The aim is to reduce the outlay by a greater proportion than that by which you reduce your chance of winning. I find a percentage take of a combination cost of around $1,200-$1,300 gives a good balance between coverage outlay and return.

Combination costs are calculated by simply multiplying the number of runners in each leg. The more runners per leg the greater the cost involved and consequently a higher dividend is required to necessitate the profit objective.

By keeping the cost in the region above, we can still glean a profit even if fancied runners win two of the legs. This also gives us a good coverage range. If we are skilful enough to isolate the winner from just two selections in one of the legs, then we can really load up with say 10 runners and two lots of eight in the remaining legs.

The value of the flexi betting in allowing the rank and file access to bets that will return sizeable dividends cannot be understated. It is strongly suggested that punters stimulated by this model should run a trial for a few months “on paper”.

Some may prefer the three leg load up as put forward here while others may prefer slightly less runners per leg with a more even spread. It should be the longterm projected aim to incrementally increase the percentage take to the full unit as the profit line is augmented.

My initial bankroll for this foray was $1,500. This was calculated on an average outlay of approximately $150 per bet with a safety net of 10 bets to carry through any reasonable loss period.  As the overall profit tends to come from a smaller number of big collects it is very much in our favour to be selective as to when and where we bet. If there appears to be only a few legitimate chances in two or more legs then it is in our best long- term interests to sit it out. Always remember we race seven days a week so there is no shortage of opportunities.

For those with a game plan, analytical skills and a modicum of patience, the indefatigable pursuit of racing’s riches may be more than just an unattainable dream. The matrimony of flexi betting and quadrellas for many, may at last navigate a pathway to punting bliss.

By Ken Blake

PRACTICAL PUNTING - SEPTEMBER 2005

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