Although the majority of punters apparently stick to the old approach of backing only one horse per race, there is a growing body of opinion that suggests they'd change their habits if they felt they could 'multiple bet' with ease.

A great many professional punters excel at backing two or more runners a race. Some might play a couple of 'savers' and plonk the remainder of their stake on their main choice, or on the best value runner of their selections.

A friend of mine told me recently that he was tempted to back two horses in a race but would prefer picking the horses without using any selecting skill. In other words, he wants a systematic approach.

This led me to delve into my old books and magazines. Was there a plan from the past that might satisfy my pal's request?

The one that caught my eye dates back to the 1960s. It came about when one expert opinioned that if two horses go off at 3/1 or less in a race, then one of them will win 75 per cent of the time.

A check at the time showed a break-even outcome using this approach on level stakes. Now that's not a bad starting point for a potentially winning approach.

The system that resulted goes like this.

THE TWO FOR THE ROAD PLAN

1. Consider only those races where two horses are quoted at 3/1 or less.
2. Bet only these two horses.
3. Bet for a set profit on each race.

These are the basic rules. Our average price is 2/1. We divide the amount we want to collect by two. The 'due' target represents prior losses plus the required profit for the coming event.

We can expect to collect in two out of every three races. Since we are backing two horses per race, however, our collections come from one wager in three.

The idea is a simple one. We try to win 1 point on every horse we back in every race, and the only races on which we bet are those in which there are two runners at 3/1 or less.

Both the first and second favourites must be at 3/1 or under and we always assume the price will be 2/1. Sometimes it'll be more, other times less. It should average out in the long term.

When you lose, don't forget to add the amount lost to the 'due' total, and also add an extra 1 for the next race.

You should be able to have a lot of fun with this idea. In fact, there are a number of ways of backing multiple runners which will virtually guarantee you a flow of consistent returns, provided your selection method is rational and provided you choose your bettable races with care.

These sort of 'safe' approaches are ideal for the time-battered punter who has taken the blows of losing punting for too many years.

It enables you to control your betting and it restricts those awful losing runs that can prove the killer of confidence in even the cockiest punter.

It all comes down in the end to sensible money management. If you can use a system like the one I've outlined, operating it sensibly and not willy-nilly, then you would have gone a long way to becoming a successful bettor.

Losers have a number of things in common. One is lack of capital control or an absence of betting capital! They bet from day to day with what they have in their pocket and rarely bother to think beyond the bets they've

They are what some bookmakers scornfully refer to as chain-bet mugs. The ones the bookies fear are those punters who adopt a professional-like approach. They make skilful selections, they play for value, and they bet cleverly.

A profitable exercise for all punters, especially those trying to beat losing years, is to keep a ledger setting out day-by-day turf investments.

Once you've kept it for a while, you can look back over your betting operations and make a note of two points:

1. How many days did you end a loser after having shown a profit at some point in the day?
2. How many days did you run into financial strife through chasing losses wildly in a bid to get square?

If one or both has happened to you, then make a firm resolution to implement a new approach
in the future.

You may, for example, start your day's betting with a bank of 10 units (a unit can be \$1, \$5, \$10, \$20 or \$50, etc.). If you back a winner and go, say, 8 or even less units in profit, for goodness sake POCKET some of the winnings.

In this way you can ensure that if you subsequently lose money, you can still walk a winner. Never give all your holdings a 'fly' throughout the day. Think of tomorrow.

Remember the Hillman System? It's a neat way to introduce yourself to sensible betting. There are other ways, too.

What about the 50% Hotpots Plan, which we have published several times in PPM. It continues to make regular profits without a great deal of risk.

Then there's the tried and proven multiple 'savers' approach. Pick out, say, three runners.  Choose one as the banker, play the other two to save your stake (or make a small profit) and put the rest of your stake on the banker.

Example: Three selections at 2/1, 4/1 and 9/2. Your banker is the 4/1 chance. Your bank is \$20. Bet \$7 on the 2/1 chance, and \$4 on the 9/2 chance. The remainder, \$9, goes on the banker.

Potential outcomes: If the 2/1 chance wins, your return is \$21, for a \$1 profit. If the 9/2 chance wins, your return  is \$22, for a \$2 profit. If the banker wins, your return is \$45 for a \$25 profit.

You've had three horses running for you. Any of them can win and you will make a profit on the bet. Naturally, you will want the banker to score.

But if it's beaten, there's a good chance one of your two savers will beat him.

Think carefully about these ideas. They are not revolutionary, but they are sensible and conservative. They have helped me hone my betting skills over the years and I'm confident they can help any punter who WANTS to be helped.

Here is a systematic approach that seeks out the best horses in a race, ignores the one that's too short in the market, and ignores the one that's too long in price.

The betting is to back both horses provided that a 1 unit bet on each will return you at least 3 units or more. The lowest acceptable price, then, is 2/1.

If you cannot secure 2/1 about one of the runners, you can (a) pass the race or (b) back the remaining runner.

By Denton Jardine

PRACTICAL PUNTING - NOVEMBER 1999