Multiple betting calls for careful selection. This is most important. Betting more than one horse a race cuts back your return. The more horses you bet, the less profit you'll make. So you don't want to have to contend with losing runs.

Those punters who prefer a mechanical approach to the selection process have a choice of many and varied systems. There are many bettors who are more 'in tune' with system selections than making decisions themselves. And there's nothing wrong with this approach.

I mean, why go on tormenting yourself, and making wrong decisions, if you can use a systematic approach and solve those very problems?

The following are the rules of a plan that will often give you 'safety in numbers' when betting more than one horse per race. It's proved quite useful over the years and certainly manages to strike a high proportion of winners and placers.

  1. Operate on metropolitan meetings. You can bet on Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide or Brisbane meetings.
  2. Check each runner and tick any horse that has won on a metropolitan (city) track within the past 14 days.
  3. If there is more than one such horse in any race, you give priority to the one (or ones) that have won most recently.
  4. If there are 2 or more horses that have won at the most recent date, you can split them by preferring the horse which is carrying the biggest weight. If both or more horses have the same weight, back them all.
  5. Alternatively, if there are 2 or more final contenders you may choose not to separate them on a weight basis and, instead, back them all. Do not attempt to split them by any other method.

The multiple bet, should you decide on the Rule 5 approach, is to bet both (or more) horses equally, no matter what their prices. Alternatively, you can 'save' on one or more and then plunge on the main chance, which is called 'Dutching'.

This is a very simple system but it's a strong one because you don't have a great many bets. Those you do get are FIT and FORMFUL horses and of course, all are last-start city winners!

This system occasionally will give you races with more than one selection. This is where the old 'multiple magic' comes in - two chances in a race rather than one, or even three chances in the race.

Tom Ainslie, the US authority on betting, has the following to say about betting two horses per race: "Some of the biggest winners in history have specialised in betting two or even three and four horses a race.

"With an approach of this kind it is best to allocate a fixed percentage of capital to each bettable race rather than to the individual tote ticket. And it is preferable to proportion the bets so that if one of the chosen horses happens to win, the proceeds will be close to what you would have collected if any of the others had won."

Ainslie, in his best-seller Ainslie's Encyclopaedia of Thoroughbred Handicapping, says that 'Dutching' is the preferable approach. We have discussed this method of betting before. It is sensible, but again I stress that for 'Dutching' to be successful long-term, a punter's selections really have to be up to the mark.

Perhaps 'Dutching' is really appealing to longshot punters? They can have their crack at the longshot and still back 2 or 3 others in the same race to 'save'. For example, let's say the longshot backer has a 33/1 chance in his sights. He has $100 to bet.

He wants to save on the favorite at 7/4, another horse at 9/4 and a third horse at 8/1. He can bet $37 on the 7/4 chance, $30 on the second horse, and $11 on the third horse, a total of $78, but still have $22 left to back his 33/1 chance.

He could have $11 eachway on the roughie and if it won he would have a big return of $374 for the win, and $102 the place - a grand total of $476 return, for a profit of $376.

But if his longshot had failed, he had three chances to save the day - and two of those chances were represented by strongly fancied runners at 7/4 and 9/4.

This is the 'safety in numbers' tack taken to its extremes. But there are good, sensible bettors who follow it in this manner.

I confess to doing so myself on occasions. As you may know, I am a longshot punter. My bread and butter comes from punting the roughies (the jam comes from writing for this magazine and Firepower!).

In some races, I do take a cautious approach and save on a couple of the hotpots in a race. This is the wise course to take if you are too unsure.

There is a recent example I can tell you about. I tipped Royal Discard (33/1) in the Southcorp (Gadsden) Stakes for the Firepower telephone service. I actually ended up betting the horse on the TAB because the odds ($43/$13) were better than offered at the track.

But I also felt that maybe Royal Discard could be beaten and that I would be silly not to try to save something on the favourite Hareeba. I bet $80 on him at 6/4 ($120-$80) for a $200 return.

My outlay on the race ended up at $280 because I had my normal $100 eachway on Royal Discard. The 'partsave' bet paid off. Royal Discard ran 3rd, getting me a return of $1335, and I picked up another $120 on Hareeba, who won the race. In all, then, $280 out for $1535 return, a profit of $1255.

Of course, had I bet only Royal Discard at $140 eachway my return would have been $1869, less the stake of $280, giving me a profit of $1589. But, then again, I would have had no comfort zone with this bet, would I? If Royal Discard hadn't run a place I would have lost the lot.

Using the saver, if she had lost I would have been only $80 down on the transaction, due to Hareeba's win. Much, then, depends on your own personal betting makeup.

If you want to play safe do so, if you're a risk taker, well take the risks and ENJOY!

By Martin Dowling