Slash the field to one-third, and go from there! That's the crux of the system I'm about to talk about.

It's some 30 to 40 years old, but it remains a steady winner-getter. Why? Because it concentrates on the horses that are usually the best in the race, those at the top of the weights (in handicaps, anyway).

The original rules are easy to follow, and I've added a couple of my own to try to seek out 'super bets' from the usual qualifiers. So far, the move seems to be working well, but as with all the systems we talk about, always check them out 'on paper' before you invest your cash.

Okay, let's look now at the original rules of this system:

THE ONE-THIRD PLAN

1. Operate only on Handicap races.
2. After scratchings, count up the number of runners that are left. Divide them by 3 and consider only those horses in the top third of runners. If an odd number of runners are contesting the race, then take the higher figure. For example, should the field number 17, that figure divided by 3 would be 5 and two-thirds, so you would round off and put 6 runners in the top division.
3. If, counting down from the topweight, you finish on several horses with the same weight, they must also be included in the top division.
4. After deciding on the contenders, look at the last three form figures of each.
5. Any horse with only one or two figures preceding its name is omitted from further consideration UNLESS it was placed (1st, 2nd, 3rd) at its last start, or only start.
6. Next, delete from the group all horses with a '0' in the last three starts (that is, finished 10th or worse).
7. You now add up the form figures for the last three starts for the remaining contenders and the selection is the horse with the LOWEST total. In the case of a horse with only one start, you multiply its finish position by 3. In the case of a contender with only two starts, you add up the two starts and divide by 2, and add the resulting figure to the two starts. So a horse with two starts which finished 3rd and 1st would have an average of 2. This would make its final total 3+1+2 equalling 6.

Now, for the added two rules:

(Extra 1): If the final contender is in the top three in the betting it becomes a superbet.

(Extra 2): If the final contender is not in the top three in the betting but is in the top three of the tipsters' consensus, it becomes an eachway superbet.

Remember that this approach works on HANDICAP races. You can try it on weight-for-age events, and set weights races, and see how it goes. But all the testing has been on Handicaps, and these are what the creator of the plan had in mind.

You should have few problems working this system. Usually, the average field will be about 12 runners, so you will be considering horses Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4 and sometimes 5. As the statistics show, horses with TAB numbers 1 through to 4 win a high proportion of all races.

The next system is aimed at backing those jockeys and trainers who are 'the best' at individual tracks. The system is based on the track statistics as published in Sportsman.

Sportsman runs jockey and trainer tables for the various major meetings which are covered by the  formguide. For example: Warrnambool on April 29, the Sportsman panel showed the top jockeys for the previous 12 months at the track to be Neville Wilson (15 winners from 92 rides), Wayne Hokai (10 winners from 62 rides) and Jason Patton (9 winners from 59 rides).

The trainers' panel showed Charlie Goggin the leader with 5 winners from 9 starters, followed by Craig Conron with 5 wins from 16 runners and then Mark Young with 4 winners from 28 starters.

Our system tries to latch onto the best jockeys and trainers with the following set of rules:

THE J & T SYSTEM

1. Using Sportsman, check the Jockey and Trainer panels for the major meetings that are covered. These are usually found next to the fields or on the next page.
2. JOCKEYS: The following are chosen to follow for the meeting, subject to further rules:

(a) The jockey with the MOST winners in the last months.

(b) The jockey with the HIGHEST win-strike rate (the lower the figure in the S/R (strike rate) column the better).
3. TRAINERS: The following are chosen to follow for the meeting, subject to further rules:

(a) The trainer with the MOST winners in the last 12 months.

(b) The trainer with the HIGHEST win-strike rate.
4. Once you have determined the best jockeys and trainers, you tick off their rides and their entries, and subject them to the following rules:
5. Any contender must have been placed 1st, 2nd or 3rd last start.
6. Any contender, if not placed 1st, 2nd or 3rd last start, must be on the first three lines of betting in the morning pre-race market.

A good idea is to use all the selections you get in doubles, quinellas, trifectas and so on, as well as for win and place bets. You will strike some very good winners, believe me.

The next idea we move on to is a staking plan for backing PLACE bets. Not WIN bets! The plan is devised so that you would need to strike a run of 18 successive losers to wipe out the two banks that are established.

I fancy even the worst tipster in the world could not find 18 place bets that all lost! If there is one, he should get out of racing immediately.

THE HUMP PLACE PLAN

1. You start your operation with a bank of 40 units.
2. The sequence of bets is 2-2-4-610-16. You will note that each bet is the sum of the previous two bets. For instance, the third wager is 4 units, which is 2 +2.
3. If you strike a dividend, you always revert to the starting point. If your first three transactions lost, your fourth investment would be 6 units. If it was placed, you would start all over again. You keep on with this regular progression until the bank of 40 units is lost, or doubled. If it's doubled, you take the profit, 40 units, and begin anew with your initial bank.
4. In the event that you lose the initial bank of 40 units, you then drop the regular progression and bring into play the second bank of 80 units and switch to the reverse 12 progression method play. This calls for a bet of 20 per cent of whatever the balance of the reserve fund may be. Its purpose is to recoup the loss of 40 units suffered. Once this loss has been replaced, the bettor then has his 40 units back and he again starts to use the regular progression.

When a player switches to the reverse progression he has already had six consecutive losses playing the regular progression so is that much nearer to the end of a losing string of place bets.

If you pick your place bet spots very carefully, as you should, this staking plan can be a very nice earner. If your selection approach is reasonable it's likely you will never need the reserve bank.

These two systems and the staking plan should give you food for thought with your betting. They are at least worth a dry-run test without putting on any money. See how they go, check to see if you can improve them. It often happens that you can tweak a system with a new rule or two, and make them even more effective.

Ask any system bettor and you'll be told that they always play around with the rules. The reason is that they are always seeking an extra edge. Sometimes, just one innovative rule change can make a world of difference.

When ever you get a system that you feel is worthy of use, always take a further look to see if you can make the little changes that might turn it from a good system into a brilliant system.

* In next month's July PPM, I'll be taking a look at some more staking plan ideas. These will mainly be aimed at tackling the First 4, an exotic bet type that is becoming more and more popular. Remember that you can bet it using the flexibet approach, so you can combine a lot of selections and only pay what you can afford by settling for a percentage of the total payout.