Clever indeed is the punter who shies away from risk-taking. But, alas, silly indeed are the majority of punters who do take risks, not only in their selection of horses to back, but in the way they bet these risk horses.

I want to address this article to those among you who want to play cautiously in this torrid year of 1991, who want to put behind them the extravagant mistakes of yesteryears, who want to put their betting on some sort of sound footing.

Firstly, then, let me tell you about a chap I knew many years ago. I met him regularly at racing get-togethers and he told me the secret of his betting success. It was, he explained, due to his careful selecting process and the constancy of his staking. The latter, he said, was a most important factor, as was his ability 'to restrict his losing runs to no more than 7.

My friend said he believed that with sound selections-like his-a punter should still play it safe by multiplying his worst losing sequence by 3, with the multiplied figure being the capital requirement. In his case, then, a bank was required of, say, 21, with the bet being 5 per cent of capital.

Let's assume his capital requirement was 20, or a bank to cater for 20 losing bets-very conservative but very sensible. The first bet would be 5 per cent of the capital (let's say this was 100 units), meaning a bet of $5. With a capital of $500 then 5 per cent would mean a minimum bet of $25, and so on.

Bets have to be increased every time the capital increases by 20 per cent. With an initial bank of $100 the first increase would be at $120, the second at about $144 and so on. What you get with this approach is very sensible and conservative money management.

The next plan is another simple one for those punters cautious enough to want to back two horses per race. Price is ignored. Whenever both horses are beaten the bets on the next race are increased by one unit and following a winner, regardless of the odds, the bets are reduced by one unit.

Let's assume you are betting in $5 units. You have three losing races and then back a winner. The bets would be as follows: Race 1: $5 and $5. Race 2:$10 and $10. Race 3: $15 and $15. Race 4: $20 and $20. Because you have backed a winner in the fourth race your bet in the fifth race would be $15 and $15. (A winner at 4/1 with that fourth race bet would square you off on the series).

The aim of this particular play is a most conservative one-to make a marginal profit. With sensible selections this should easily be achieved.

Finally, a staking plan for those of you who want to take out 'insurance' for the place on win bets. It's a fact that most one-horse punters back far more placegetters than winners, yet most punters rarely play safe with a backup place bet. It's worth thinking about.

A staking plan based on the approach of betting MORE for a place than for a win is known as The 10 Per Cent Carve up. Your starting bank, is, say 100 units. The opening and minimum bet is 10 per cent, split to one-fia the win and four-fifths the place-2 x 8.

Whenever the capital exceeds 100 units you continue to bet one-10th and split it using the one to four ratio. If you are backing sound selections-not hunch horses, and wild outsiders-it will probably come as a surprise to you how quickly your capital bank will increase from all the winners and placegetters you strike.

As well, during losing runs for the win you will have those 'unlucky' 2nds and 3rds running for you and giving you a constant flow of place dividends to offset the straight-out losses.

You couldn't wish for a safer, more cautious approach to betting. It's one I am sure will appeal to many P.P.M. readers, especially those who perhaps have been enduring a bad run, with losers and haphazard betting approaches.

Once you can rid yourself of the silly things you do, and can get down to the nitty gritty of being a sound businessman when it comes to punting, you will find your losing runs are turned on their head, and winning runs replace them.

Be sensible, be cautious, be selective but, most of all, be consistent and constant in the staking plans you use. Don't give up on them because your selections fail you-stick at it, chip away at your individual failings, and success awaits you.

By Statsman