With the New Year coming up fast, we need to take stock of things and look at the obvious. I think one of the most obvious aspects of our racing game is the place all-up bet.

It must be the greatest insurance bet there is, and I never tire of saying that I sometimes regard it as the sort of insurance component of an each way bet. Insurance is the name of our game really – we are trying to insure ourselves against losing. We don’t want to lose, we want to win. But if we can’t win (because the gods have decided that today is not our day), well, the next best thing is to cover our backsides.


It is a fact of life that every Saturday, horses go around at ridiculous place odds. That means they are under their correct odds to a stupid degree and nobody with any investment blood in his veins would touch them with a barge pole.

However, on occasions the reverse is also true. Not as much as the unders, but you will find reasonable odds for favourites for the place now and again. I have to admit that, so far as the totes are concerned, I only look on Melbourne Cup day. But that might be wrong thinking on my part, so let’s have a look at an ordinary (and I sure do mean ordinary!) day at Rosehill a few weeks back.

Let’s look at a handful of the favourites. I am restricting us to those that looked to be lay-down miseres for a place. They were probably going to win, and at least three of them did.

I am referring to Come Undone (won at $2.10 or 10/9), Langborghini (won at $1.70 or 7/10) and Red Oog (won at $2.10 or 10/9). An all-up win, which demanded that all three oblige, would have paid you $6.50 profit. That’s 13/2, and for those three it is very, very rewarding.

But if one had lost, your 13/2 was made of straw. Do you recall Langborghini’s race?  Oh yes, now you do. He got up on the line by a nostril, to beat a 25/1 chance. Heart attack stuff. Those frights we can do without.
But the other side of the coin is that he was never, ever going to miss a place.

Not ever.

Nor were the other two.

Those three winners paid $1.40, $1.20 and $1.30 respectively, with no fears at all. An all-up came in at not much above even money.

And there is my point!

Say you had invested $100 all-up the three best bets of the day to win. OK, they won and you were the happier collector of $750, less the $100 you outlaid, $650 profit. Six and a half times your money.

But if Reconnoitre had held on for one eyelash longer, Langborghini and your win treble were down the drain.

However, had you also chosen to take a place treble (in effect an each way treble), you’d have been riding home on another $118 profit. And had the weirdly named animal above lost, you’d have still won $18.

That, dear reader, is 9 per cent on your outlay of $200. Please tell me where, apart from robbing a bank, you are likely to make that in four hours on a Saturday afternoon (and enjoy doing it).

I guess the thing is that if you like trying to hit a decent win, you can do worse than trying to link up a few of the afternoon’s best bets. Look for a 13/2 chance and you could be struggling. On that day they either won as favourites or they won at 15/1 and 20/1. There was scope for finding three at evens or thereabouts, and linking them. You might have even tossed in Not Fussy in the first event, and Our Highlander in the fifth, both at less than 2/1 ($2.40 and $2.50), and linked all five into 10 win trebles at $10 each for your $100.

If you’d done that, you could still have covered all your win bets by taking the equivalent place bets (10 trebles at $10 each).

It can be a lot of fun. With five selections, you still need three to get up for one treble, four to win for four trebles to come home, and of course all five to salute the judge to get the magic 10 trebles. That’s a hard ask. But even so, your five place contenders might well do it all.

It doesn’t matter a lot whether you go one way or the other with short priced commodities, but there is obvious advantage in spreading the chances a bit wider. Your chance of three from five is much better than three from three, or even three from four.

On the place side of things, you would be very unlucky not to get three up, and probably four, on most occasions. So let’s say that four make it. We will leave out the best dividend ($1.40 – there were two at that price) and take the other four. For your $10 place trebles on those four you will get about $80 or more of your money back. Five of them place and you’ll get about $210 to $220. But again the insurance says it’s more likely you can get some back from 10 bets as against from one bet. If it is going to end up about the same, the bigger spread might be better.

Meanwhile, if one, or two, or (when the gods are unkind) more of your five do not win, you will be depending on your insurance place bets to save you.

And that’s when it pays to have more than a little respect for the humble place all-up.

By The Optimist