Landing a First 4 divvie can be a marvelously rewarding experience. The payouts are big. Sometimes huge.

But how can you frame your bets for a moderate amount of money and give yourself a fighting chance of hauling in a regular stream of collects, including, hopefully, a whopper or two?

The First 4 requires you to pick, in the right order, the first four horses home in a race. That’s a tough ask. It’s hard enough getting an exacta, harder to get a trifecta . . . and, well, a First 4 is stretching your limits as a punter.

Multiple combinations are the only way to go. So what can you do with, say, a \$24 bet. Okay, if we assume that you reckon you can get the exacta (1st and 2nd) you can then bring in multiples for 3rd and 4th.

Here’s a combination which will cost you \$24:

A//B//CDE//CDEFGHIJK

What we have here is a pretty good play. But you must be able to pick the winner in one pick (A) and the second horse (B) in one pick. Get those, and you have three horses running for the 3rd place (CDE) and then two of those plus six others (FGHIJK) for the 4th slot.

That’s not a bad lineup for just a \$24 bet. Add one more dollar and you can consider the following combination:

A//B//CDEFG//CDEFGH

This is a 1-1-5-6 combination. Once again you have to be certain of your picks to win and run 2nd. Get them home and you are looking good to land the other two placings for 3rd and 4th. You have five horses running for the 3rd slot, and then four of those plus one more for 4th.

Perhaps, though, you want to give yourself a bit more cover for the 2nd placing? A \$24 bet can be taken using the following combination:

A//BC//BCD//BCDEFGHI

This is a 1-2-3-8 combination. Basically, you are trying to nail the winner with one pick. You then have two horses running for you for the 2nd place (those are the B-C horses). If you get that one, then one of those horses moves on for the 3rd position and joins up with Horse D. The 4th placing will see you holding a chance with six runners (you have included eight but, of course, two of those have been used up getting 2nd and 3rd).

Think about it. If you get the winner, you have two chances of getting 2nd, another two chances of getting 3rd and then six chances of getting 4th. Not bad. If your selecting is up to scratch you will be in with a big chance, especially if the field is not a big one.

What about taking two horses to win the race? How can you use the multiples to give yourself a good chance without having to bet large amounts? Try the following for \$24.

AB//AB//CDE//CDEFG

This is a 2-2-3-5 combination. Your A and B selections are a “quinella” and they are not included for 3rd and 4th.

You MUST get them in the first two placings. Either can win. If you can do that, you then have three horses running for you to fill the 3rd placing. If you get that, then for the 4th placing you have four horses running for you (having lost one of the five filling 3rd).

Okay, I can hear some of you “tougher” punters asking about some big outlays. You might be in a syndicate that can afford to splurge some bigger outlays. Let’s assume you have \$200 to spend.

You are confident you have the winner. So we use the selection as a banker to win the race. Now what about 2nd placing? Let’s say you think you can nail this placing with five horses. For the 3rd slot you add another one. And for the 4th slot you list a total of 10 horses. The combination costs \$200 and goes like this:

A//BCDEF//BCDEFG//BCDEFGHIJK

The linkup is 1-5-6-10. Believe me, the cost works out to \$200, using \$1 units.

Get that vital winner and you are right in with a great chance of a big dividend collect if you get the other placings correct with your selections.

The First 4 can be a great bet. It is certainly an exciting one. In next month’s PPM I’ll bring you some more ideas for having a crack at it.

By Jon Hudson

PRACTICAL PUNTING – AUGUST 2008