We're all odds-plungers, aren't we? Each in our own way tries to turn the odds on a horse to our advantage, be the odds short or long. We know that 'price' is what the game is all about, but each of us differs in the way we approach and tackle the problem.

The bookmakers know that 'price' is everything; they make their living by conning us into accepting bad-value prices. When a bookie gives you 6/4 what he is really saying is that he thinks the horse is a 7/4 or 2/1 chance, maybe even longer. He's selling, you're buying.

Your task, when betting with the bookmaker, is to try to 'snip' him giving you a wrong price. When he offers you 6/4 then it could well be a good price if you have decided that the horse on offer is really an even money chance. So it's a game of cat and mouse - and the best man wins.

In this article, I will try to help you come to terms with the price factor. Firstly, can you manage 35 per cent winners at 2/1? If you can, you are set for a small profit on your operations at level stakes. What I propose is a scale of betting which is designed to withstand 13 straight losers - and you'd need 14 at the very outset to break the  punter.

Capital is divided into two parts. When the bettor hits seven losers and exhausts the first column he goes to the top of the second column, which begins with a \$2 bet, even though the bettor has just lost a \$16 bet. But as soon as he has won \$16 in the second column he goes back to the bottom of the first column and makes the \$16 bet again.

If this wins, he automatically has recovered all losses and made a profit. He is then ready to begin all over again at the top of the first column. If the bettor makes \$16 in the second column and then loses it back in the first, he  returns to the first bet in Column 2 and proceeds as before.

If he reaches the \$18 bet in Column 2 and it loses, he continues to bet \$18 until he has won \$16 on Column 2. Note that any winning bet at 2/1 or better in Column I will recover losses and show a profit.

The scale is as follows:

COLUMN 1COLUMN 2
\$1.00\$2.00
\$2.00\$3.00
\$3.00\$4.00
\$4.00\$6.00
\$6.00\$10.00
\$10.00\$15.00
\$16.00\$18.00

Capital required is \$100.

You can use this scale of betting with any selection method. One that I like is the Frequent Winner Plan, which originated in the USA some 20 years ago. It is based on the bettor following highly consistent racehorses - those with a win strike of at least 30 per cent from at least 6 or more starts.

Not many horses in any one season, in the metropolitan area, can maintain such a sound strike rate, so there won't always be too many bets. The rules of this plan are contained in The Workout panel which is included with this article on Page 11. Follow the rules carefully.

Now for the real odds-plunger system. This is centred on looking for horses which were at odds of between 8/1 and 12/1 last start, and which are now starting at 3/1 and lower. Thus the name of oddsplungers. Very often these horses will win on a regular basis.

The idea is to latch on to horses which were relatively un-fancied last start (but which ran good races) and are now very well fancied. The price drop is usually a clear indicator that the horse is (a) dropping in class or (b) meeting a similar field but is highly regarded because of its last-start performance.

An example is Miss Kariba at Randwick on April 24. She had run 2nd from 11 at Randwick on April 10 (1200m) and was now racing over the same trip at the same track, and was at odds of around 9/4 to 5 / 2. Miss Kariba won the race. She was the sole contender in the race.

Another example at this meeting was Te Akau Nick. The 4yo. gelding had started at 10/1 at his last start, and finished 2nd in the Sydney Cup (3200m). He was now in the 2800m St Leger at around even money to 5/4. Now here is a very strong indicator that this horse has a huge chance.

He has come in off a 10/1 price in a big race; now he's in another big race and the support for him is so effective, so pronounced that he's at a very short quote. Te Akau Nick won the race comfortably.

Before you go to the races or the TAB, get a red felt pen and clearly mark off all the horses which qualify as a result of their last-start performances. These will be horses which started at between 8/1 and 12/1 and which won or were placed. Once you have them ticked off in each race all you need do is check out the prices on offer.

Wait until a few minutes before the 'off' to decide if a horse is abet. It is best to wait as long as you can because sometimes a horse may open short and then drift out markedly in the betting, thereby becoming a non-bet.

If you can't get to a racetrack, or a TAB, and have to place your bets before you go to work, or before you go somewhere for whatever reason, you can use the morning newspaper pre-race betting market as your guide. This is not as accurate a formula as waiting until near race time but for the busy off-course punter it will have to do!

The one proviso I place on this method is never to accept odds-on. By all means, go to even money but make that the cut-off point. It's not much use chasing winners who are at odds-on because inevitably you are going to get the losers which will poke a hole in your pocket. The return is not alluring enough to make these bets worthwhile.

The best ones to look for, really, are the horses between about 7/4 and 3/1. They give you some value, and you know they are well-fancied and that most times are going to give you a decent run for your money.

Those of you who decide to follow this method will probably find that it gets a high rate of placegetters. With this in mind there is a 3-column progression staking plan that can be used with it.

The plan is only for those punters who don't mind their bets being stepped up sharply after losses. But it can be a most worthwhile one, especially bearing in mind that with place betting the chance of long losing runs is slim.

Here is the 3-Column Plan:

ABC
2.004.008.00
6.0012.0024.00
18.0036.0072.00
54.00108.00216.00

If you hit a \$3 (that is, \$1.50 for \$l) or better tote dividend while betting Column A the series is completed and you start again. If the return is under \$3 (including stake) then repeat the bet.

If there are 4 losses in a row and you have just lost the \$54 bet, you then go to Column B. You then continue through this column and, if necessary, into Column C, until you have made a profit on the whole series. When you are in profit overall (taking into account all bets that have been made) you close the series and start again.

Let's say you struck four losers in Column A (a total loss of \$80), you then go to Column B and let's say you strike another 2 losers (minus \$16) and then get a return with your \$36 bet of \$2.50 (for \$I). You have actually bet a total of \$132, and the \$36 bet will return you \$90. You are still \$42 behind. You then repeat the \$36 bet. An even money return will enable you to virtually square off the series. Anything better will put you in profit.

I have selected a rather grim scenario here because I have made allowance for a run of six outs for place betting (which is equivalent to allowing for 18 outs for win bets). With the system working as I know it does, it's unlikely you will suffer many losing runs like this.

You don't, of course, have to follow the selection system I have outlined. You can use your own selections for this 3-Column staking. It's up to you.

I did a recent check on this staking plan, using the top selections of a well-known Sydney tipster, betting for the place, and the outcome was a total of 171 races played for 105 returns, a 63 per cent strike rate. The complete profit was \$157.20. The longest losing run was four, which happened only once.

THE WORKOUT

The rules of the Frequent Winner System are as follows:

1. Decide which meeting/s you are going to bet on. Then mark off any runner with a win strike rate of 30% or more. To be a contender a horse must have had at least 6 starts.
2. The horse must have raced within the previous 21 days.
3. The horse must be racing over a suitable distance (check its previous runs to find out if it has performed well at the distance of the current race, or within 100m either way). If not, then eliminate.
4. The horse must be at 6/4 up to and including 10/1 in the betting. Nothing lower, nothing higher.
5. If the going is rain-affected, the horse must have shown winning form in the prevailing conditions (dead, slow, heavy).

By Ted Davies

PRACTICAL PUNTING - JUNE 1993