The best way I know of to guarantee yourself consistent returns is to back more than one horse in a race. It does not, of course, offer any guarantee of profits! That's always a problem, isn't it?

But for the punter who desires his money to be turned around a lot, and who can't stand the thought of long losing runs, then multiple betting can be magic. But there are aspects to it that have to be understood.

The late Eric Connolly always stressed that one of the most important factors in betting was value, and that all punters should know the true meaning of odds before starting betting operations. This, he said, applied particularly to those punters who backed two or more runners in a race.

Said Connolly: "When punters start dual betting, and making savers, they seldom realise the short odds they sometimes accept." In underlining his view, Connolly explained that many punters liked to back the first two favourites.

"Assuming that the first fancy is 2/1 and the second fav is 4/1, and you don't always secure such a liberal margin, do you realise what price this is that either one won't win? The punter is actually laying 8 to 7 ON and if they don't believe me, then work it out," he said.

The following explains it: You invest \$1 on each of the first 2 favs, an outlay of \$2. If the 2/1 fav wins you collect \$3, including your own \$2. So you have actually laid 2/1 ON. Should the second favourite win at 4/1 you collect \$5, including your own \$2. So your overall price on the 4/1 winner is actually 6/4.

To work out any odds in multiple betting, you must add one to the odds of each wager and then determine the least common multiple. Thus:

• First bet, the price was 2 / 1. Add 2 and 1 and you get 3.
• Second bet, the price was 4 / 1. Add 4 and 1 and you get 5.

The least common multiple of 3 and 5 is 15 - so the odds that one or the other doesn't win are 8 to 7 ON. Obviously, you will need to be sharp and accurate to bet with figures like this!

A further illustration of a more complicated case can be shown where three horses are backed in the one race. Let's say Bay is 3 / 1, Grey 7/2 and Chestnut 9/1.

If Bay wins, you get \$4 back, if Grey wins you get \$4.50 back and if Chestnut wins you get \$10 back. The respective odds are 3/1 ON (Bay), 2/1 ON (Grey) and 7/3 AGAINST (Chestnut). In other words, even with the win by the 9/1 chance your actual \$3 bet has been laid at 7/3, or 2.33 to 1.

Looked at this way, the bet doesn't have the same appeal does it?

So when you think about multiple betting in the one race, always work out what your actual odds are for each runner in the event of it winning. Then consider if the risk is worthwhile.

Eric Connolly favoured going for a win on one of his selections and 'saving' his total stake on the other two. The formula for this is to merely add ONE to each price and then divide that sum into the total stake to discover how much to invest on your savers. The balance is then placed on your first fancy.

Let's say your top selection is at 4/1. Your two savers are 2/1 and 4/1. You are going to bet \$50 across all three. Deal with the savers first. That means you divide 3 into 50 to find what the bet is on the 2/1 chance. The answer is 16.6 which is rounded off to 17. The other one is 5 divided into 50, which gives the answer of 10.

So for the savers you bet \$17 on the 2/1 chance and \$10 on the 4/1 chance. The remaining \$23 goes on your hotpot, the 4/1 chance. If it wins, you get back \$115 for a profit of \$65. If one of the other two wins, you get your money back.

But, look at it again, and you'll see that your hotpot has actually paid odds of only 1.3 to 1, or 11/8. Against that, you have had the 'cushion' of knowing you had three horses running for you and that a win by any one of them would either make you a profit or return your stake.

This sort of betting does have appeal to many conservative punters. They don't like the idea of betting just one standout.

Let's look now at a plan or two which can help you find the multiple bets in a race.

THE TOP WEIGHTER

1. The automatic inclusion is Horse No 1.
2. The automatic 2nd selection is the first runner down the card who ran 2nd last start, and who has won 2 or more races at the track and at least one race at the current distance.
3. If no horse fulfils this criteria, then look for the first one down the card who has run 2nd or 3rd last start and is a winner at track and distance (at least one win for each).

The inclusion of No 1 is always a pretty good safeguard. For a start, runners with this number win around 18 to 20 per cent of all races. By linking them with a formfull track and distance winner, you are putting yourself in a strong position to collect a dividend at least 3 times out of 10, and at prices which will enable you to carve out a profit.

You can give some consideration to employing a staking plan to try to boost the method's wins.

A progression plan could fit in neatly with this idea.

LONGSHOT MULTIPLE PLAN

1. The automatic inclusions are No's 1 and 2 in all races.
2. The third selection is confined to runners carrying the lowest weight (minimum). Horse must be a last-start city winner.
3. If no qualifier, horse must be 2nd or 3rd placegetter in the city last start. If no qualifiers, forget the race.

This is aimed at pulling in some nice-priced longshots on the Limit weight. You are covered for the savers by obviously smart horses carrying No's 1 and 2.

Finally, some words of warning to small punters. With this form of betting, you need to be very careful in your selection of races. Patience is the key word. Never bet unless you are confident of the horses you are going to bet, whether following a system or just choosing horses through form analysis.

Don't be misled into thinking this is a method of staking which can only be indulged with substantial capital * It isn't so. If you don't overbet, you can start with a relatively smallish bank.

But stay out of those races where the favourite is at short odds. Odds-on definitely look on.

By Richard Hartley Jnr

PRACTICAL PUNTING - SEPTEMBER 1996