Betting requires a degree of courage, no matter how small a punter you may be in terms of cash risked. The fewer selections you make in a race determines the level of courage required.

You bet one horse in a race to win and you are testing your judgement against the entire field. This approach is at the high end of the 'risk' element in racing. There is no room for having made an error of judgement. If your horse is beaten a centimetre, your bet, and your money, is lost.

Betting more than one horse a race cuts down the size of your potential return, but it requires less courage because the 'risk' factor is minimised. The more horses you can bet in the one race, the more the risk vanishes, along with the value.

What the punter has to do is find a 'middle ground' where he or she can link two or more horses in a race, thus providing a comfort zone in the area of risk and courage, This is where sensible 'Dutch Courage' comes into play! Dutching is a way of backing several horses in a race (sometimes more, depending on price) to provide equalised returns no matter which one wins.

Many professional punters use Dutching on a full-time basis. They rarely lose. They pick their playable races carefully, and then hit hard with their Dutch book of several prospects in a race. All bet according to the right prices.

The term Dutching comes from America. The Americans used to use it a great deal in the days when bookmakers were legal. Now, though, the all-tote method of betting has meant that only a few hardy souls stick to the Dutch method (the constant swing in prices on the tote makes it difficult to frame your bet properly).

But tote and bookie bettors in Australia can operate the method. Our sophisticated TAB system allows off-course punters right up to the last few seconds to lay their bets, so a punter can virtually get on at the right price even if he's in a TAB agency just watching the monitors.

Ideally, the Dutch book should be played on a racetrack, where a punter has access to bookmakers' prices, as well as the tote.

Firstly, let me say that this is NOT a betting method for those among you who are chain bettors. That is, the 'have a bet every race' types. Dutching should be restricted to those races on a card where you feel your selections will be at good odds, often in races where you feel the favourite can be beaten.

Let's say you have three horses chosen which are at 3/1, 4/1 and 9/1. You simply add one to each of these prices, making them 4, 5 and 10. Multiply these figures 4 x 5 x 10 and you get the total of 200. To give you the required staking for each horse, divide the 200 by 4, 5 and 10. This means a bet of 50 units on the 3/1 chance, 40 units on the 4/1 chance and 20 units on the 9/1 chance, a total outlay of 110 units. You can halve this bet if you like, making the outlays 25, 20 and 10, a total of 55 units.

Okay, you say, that's great, but I can't bet in those amounts, I'm a small punter! No worries on that score - all you have to do is scale your bets down. To determine your bets according to the size of your bank, you simply do a quick calculation or two.

EXAMPLE:  I'll assume you are going to back 3 horses in a race and you have $20. Using the bookies' percentage table (see Page 5), you operate as follows:

Selection Odds   
Horse A 3/1 25
Horse B 9/2 18
Horse C 9/1 10
Horse A 3/1 25
Total Percentages     

With a total stake in your hand of $20, you have to split it three ways. You use that percentage figure of 53 as the key factor. For Horse A, the percentage is 25. You DIVIDE this by 53 and it gives you the answer of 0.4716. This is the proportion of your $20 to be placed on Horse A.

The actual bet is calculated like this: HORSE A = 20 x 0.4716 equals 9.432, which, rounded off, means a bet of $9.50 on Horse A. Now to Horse B, whose percentage is 18. This is divided by 53 which gives you 0.3396, and you then multiply this figure by 20 for the outcome of 6.79, which rounded off means a bet of $7 on Horse B.

There is no need to work out Horse C's bet because it will take up the remainder of your $20 after allowing for the $9.50 bet on Horse A and the $7 bet on Horse B. This means a bet of $3.50 on Horse C.

Let's look at the outcomes of the Dutch bets:

Horse A: $9.50 (say $10) at 3/1 equals $30 plus your own $10, a total of $40.
Horse B: $7 at 9/2 equals $31.50 plus your own $7, a total of $38.50.
Horse C: $3.50 (say $4) at 9/1 equals $36 plus your own $4, a total of $40.

For your $20 outlay, then, you have three horses racing for you, and if any one of them wins the race you make a profit. Horse A returns you a $20 (100 per cent) profit, Horse B returns you $18.50 profit (92.5 per cent) while Horse C provides you with a $20 (100 per cent) profit.

If, of course, you can afford only $10 or thereabouts a race, you can still work out your individual bets. In the above case, the bets would have been $5 on Horse A, $3.50 (say $4) on Horse B and, say, $2 on Horse C, a total of $11 outlaid. Your returns would be: Horse A ($20), Horse B ($22) and Horse C ($20).

What must be remembered with Dutch book betting is that you cannot achieve good profitability if prices are too short. Putting in horses at short prices (evens, 5/4, 6/4, 7/4 etc.) means that your total percentages, with the addition of the second and third selections, will erode your percentage profitability on a race.

If you chose a horse at 6/4, another at 2/1 and a third at 4/1, your total percentages would be 93 per cent, leaving you only a 7 per cent leverage.

So be very careful in that area. Look for value. Resist the temptation to try out your 'Dutch Courage' on every race!

So, what are your long-term chances of making a nice profit with this approach? Well, assuming your selections are accurate ones, you can expect to collect up to 60 per cent of the time, with three selections per race.

If you could hit with, say, five winning bets in every 10 races, your position would be:

10 races at $20 per race - total outlay $200.
5 winning races returning $40 per race - total return $200.

Here, then, is a break-even point. You know that if you can lift your returns to 6 or 7 per every 10 bets, then you can get right into profit, especially if you can increase your race-by-race profit level. To do this, you need to aim at your three selections having percentages which total around the 40 per cent mark not any more.

Three horses at 4/1, 6/1 and 14/1 would total around 41 per cent. This gives you some idea of the prices you should be aiming at. Of course, a further way to tackle Dutch book betting is to use your own 'true' prices to frame the bets, and then obtain overlays on course.

If we use the example I have given earlier, let's suppose you had priced these horses yourself at 3/1, 9/2 and 9/1, but were able to obtain better odds on-course - such as 4/1 for the 3/1 chance, 6/1 for the 9/2 chance and 15/1 for the 9/1 chance.

Now your profit-taking is looking really good! Your $10, $7 and $4 bets would now return as follows:

Horse A: Bet $10 at 4/1 equals total return of $50.
Horse B: Bet $7 at 6/1 equals total return of $49.
Horse C-. Bet $4 at 15/1 equals total return of $64.

See how your profits have shot up? You now have won $30 on a Horse A win, $29 on a Horse B win, and $44 on a Horse C win. This has been achieved by gaining 'overs' on your estimated prices.


- Evens 50.0
52.4 11-10 47.6
55.6 5-4 44.4
57.9 11-8 42.1
60.0 6-4 40.0
61.9 13-8 38.1
63.6 7-4 36.4
66.7 2-1 33.3
69.2 9-4 30.8
71.4 5-2 28.6
73.3 11-4 26.7
75.0 3-1 25.0
77.8 7-2 22.2
80.0 4-1 20.0
81.8 9-2 18.2
83.3 5-1 16.7
84.6 11.2 15.4
85.7 6-1 14.3
86.7 13-2 13.3
86.7 13-2 13.3
87.5 7-1 12.5
88.3 15-2 11.7
88.9 8-1 11.1
90.0 9-1 10.0
90.9 10-1 09.1
92.6 12-1 07.4
93.5 14-1 06.5
94.3 16-1 05.7
95.2 20-1 04.8
96.2 25-1 03.8
97.0 33-1 03.0
97.6 40-1 02.4
98.0 50-1 02.0
98.5 66-1 01.5
99.0 100-3 01.0

By Jon Hudson