Now can you make some big windfalls from doubles? P.P.M. expert David Whitney serves up a few tempting suggestions in this special article.

Some years ago it wasn't unusual for professional punters in Sydney to provide more than 40 per cent of the TAB's entire turnover on daily doubles punting. It is now very much less. The public trend moved away from doubles in the mid-1970s, and this was accentuated when the trifecta was introduced.

However, in recent times the introduction of all-up betting has meant a resurgence of interest in doubles, via all-up bets. Now, instead of being restricted to the double races chosen by the TAB, punters can take tote doubles on any races. (Of course, the fixed daily and extra doubles remain at the TABS).

Now, professional punter friends of mine are once again beginning to take an interest in doubles again. And they still operate along the same lines as before they work out their own price lines and take on the uninformed public selections.

Mat the pros did in the old days was to 'fine down' the fields in both legs of the DD and then work out the minimum dividend for all of their couplings, and then make a book against the machine, just as if they were betting on a single race.

Most punters don't want to go to these lengths and, anyway, they are more interested in discovering HOW to pick the winners of the doubles, more than in how to bet them. With this in mind, I've come up with a few ideas to help you plan an attack on doubles betting.

I've done some checking on the methods at various times over the past few years, and the results, long-term, have been quite rewarding, with not too many runs of losses. I do suggest you check them out 'on paper' to see whether they can measure up in your racing area.

The first method was passed onto me by Mick Collins, a professional punter who has, from time to time, written for P.P.M. He says this particular method throws up some tremendous dividends, but you'll need fortitude and patience to wade through some losing runs. The average, Mick says, is a strike rate of 33 per cent, with the dividends usually running into three figures!

We'll call this plan The Bolter, because it often comes up with horses at long, long odds.

  1. Include in both legs of your double all last-start winners.
  2. Put in all those horses which had the same finish position at their last two starts-22, 33, 44, 55, 66, 77, 88, or 99.
  3. Throw in any horse whose form line reads 2-3 or 3-2 at its last two starts.
  4. Couple all these horses in both legs into multiple doubles. (Example: four horses qualify in first leg, five horses qualify in second leg, that s 20 doubles at 50c each, equalling a $10 stake.

Here's a recent example in the daily double at Randwick on December 24 last year.

FIRST LEG (Villiers Handicap)
123 Tumble On (correct form line last two starts).
381 Dancing Poet (last start winner).
321 Prince Toronaga (last start winner).
132 Royal Reel (correct form line last two starts).
288 Tierra Rist (same finish spot last two starts).
111 Prince Trialia (last start winner). 521 For Papa (last start winner).
141 Mythical Prince (last start winner).

SECOND LEG (Old Handicap)
232 Mighty Reserve (correct form line last two starts)
301 Whiskey Supreme (last start winner).
022 Purse Strings (same finish spot last two starts).
023 Double Schedule (correct form line last two starts).

This is a total of 32 doubles (8 x 4) costing $16. The double ended up on Tumble On and Mighty Reserve and paid more than 40-1. Interestingly, in the Villiers the selections the system chose filled the first three placings for the trifecta. They also got the trifecta in the second leg!

The same system struck the daily double at Moonee Valley on the same day with a 2 x 3 combination (Amboise in the first leg and Count Seal in the second leg. Amboise had the form line 23 while Count Seal was a last start winner). At Eagle Farm that day there was a 2 x 1 linkup for $1 but this failed to strike the double.

The second method I am proposing is aimed at selecting outsiders. Sometimes it can come up with some fantastic doubles. All you do is consider only those horses which have the form line of 1-0-placing. That is 102, 103 or 104.

What you get are horses which have proven their form recently, and which then have failed to run a place before showing a return to form at their most recent start.

Couple up any horses showing these form patterns. Often you will not get qualifiers in both legs. When this happens, and providing there aren't more than two qualifiers in a leg, you take them into the field in the other leg. If there is just ONE bet in both doubles, make sure you back it each-way.

Always remember with doubles, that all-up betting allows you to bet PLACE doubles, and when you are shooting for outsiders then it is wise to consider this aspect of betting.

Now we come to the Select Race Method. Your selections are made according to the class of the race involved in the legs of the double. The rules are as follows:

  1. If both races are handicaps: Take the 3rd and 4th in the pre-post betting as published on race morning for each race and couple in doubles (2 x 2 equals four doubles, A and B in first leg with C and D in second leg).
  2. If both races are non-handicaps (Set weights, WFA): Take the lst and 2nd in the pre-post morning market and couple in doubles.
  3. If the first race is a handicap and the second a non-handicap: Couple the 3rd and 4th pre-post favourites in the first leg, with the l st and 2nd pre-post favs in the second leg. Reverse the procedure if the first leg is a non~ handicap and the second leg a handicap.

What we should now think about are some technical aspects of backing doubles. Firstly, 'field' doubles. Many punters reckon if they have a good thing in one leg they should take the field with it in the second leg. Usually, they are disappointed. Fact is, that longed-for outsider rarely wins to make the double a big one. In many instances, the punter would have been wiser to have put the 'field' double money on a straightout win bet on the good thing!

Another aspect is that because 'field' doubles are popular, there often is a lot of doubles money riding on the outsiders, and this reduces dividends to a great extent. If you are tempted to take a 'field' double it's probably better in the long run to ignore the temptation.

Frankly, taking a field double is a shortcut route for a punter who simply cannot be bothered to sit down and do some form study. The facts of the matter are that in any race a number of horses have near enough to no chance of winning. Why waste your money on them?

Let's take a theoretical field of 18. Now, in that 18 there will, on average, be about five or six horses who would have to be rated 1000-1 chances of winning. Your doubles money would be much better spent ignoring them, and instead being placed on the runners with much better prospects. Have two units instead of one on some runners. That way, when you strike the double you get a much higher return.

Looked at on a long-term basis, taking field doubles is, in a sense, a way of throwing money down the drain. What you have to do is take advantage of those punters who pursue this course- you act the 'wise man' part and reduce the field by half and place twice as much on each of them.

And now, another piece of advice. It concerns hot favourites, those horses at very short prices. My suggestion is that you refrain from taking doubles with an odds-on favourite. The reasoning is clear: Punters who won't look at an odds-on chance for a straight out bet vvill, instead, back it in a double, reasoning that they can get a bigger return on it by striking a longshot in the other leg.

The drawback with this little idea is that it rarely pays off, because too many people are on the bandwaggon. The odds are shot to pieces, even if a good-priced animal does happen to land the second leg. Theoretically, let's say you back a horse which is 1-2 (odds-on) in the first leg and couple it with the field in the second leg (18 runners).

Your hotpot wins, and a 6-1 chance wins the second leg. The dividend for the double will be only around 18-1, just enough to get you your money back! You would need a winner way above 10s to start making a profit.

Should a 2-1 chance win the second leg (very likely!) you'd get a measly $3 to $3.50 (approximately). So, the facts ' are there to interpret-bet carefully and don't expect to cash-in on those short-priced hotpots in the field doubles.

Finally, another system for choosing doubles. This is one that a friend of mine in England told me about a long time ago. Happily, it still comes up with some astonishing doubles dividends.

I call it The Price Factor, and it works like this: You decide which races you wish to operate on, and then you couple up only those runners between EVENS and 7-1 in the pre-post betting market. If you are at the track, you can take advantage of last-minute odds and play those horses which figure. Operating in this manner, though, you would have to back all the first leg horses for a win and then re-invest and spread the winnings on qualifiers in the second leg.

You may think you could be burdened down with a lot of horses in each leg but, in fact, you'll be surprised at how limited the multiple bets will be.

A recent daily double I checked at Eagle Farm had 15 runners in the first leg and 13 in the second leg, and yet the required combination for The Price Factor method was only a 3 x 6 linkup, costing $9 for 50c units. There was a dividend of around 45-1.

Pick your races carefully with this one and you can secure some great value, especially where a race has an odds-on favourite. You will not back this horse and that means you are getting the input of some real value in the divvy if the odds-on shot loses (as so many of them do!).

By David Whitney