Men punters talk about betting they will invariably end up mentioning the 'big double' they landed during their punting lifetimes. Everyone has one or two of them - the big windfall return, or returns, that are never forgotten.

The key to successful betting, of course, is to try and get those windfalls on a regular basis. That's not so easy. Small doubles can be picked up regularly, but they don't contain enough 'cash meat' to tide us over the long haul. At the end of a punting year, there is inevitably a loss figure posted.

If you can get your approach to doubles and trebles right, then you can start to laugh all the way to the bank. There are many and varied systems for doubles and trebles betting. I've collected a few in my time. Some have proven excellent; others shone for a while then spluttered away.

Let's look first at trouble-shootin' angles for trebles. How do we ensure we get the three winners we need? We get our selection approach correct for a start! If you can do this, you're well on the way. After all, back 3 winners each at 6/4 and you've landed a very healthy treble. A dollar at 6/4 gives you back \$2.50, then that goes on the second horse at 6/4 and if it wins you get a return of \$6.25, and all that goes on the third horse and the final return for your initial dollar bet is \$15.60 that's a treble paying odds of more than 14/1 for three short-priced winners. A \$10 treble (or all-up) and you get \$156 back. Sometimes, when a T.A.B. is offering a special bet of a treble (3 selected races) the returns can be even greater than a simple race-by-race treble.

Careful choice of horses could give a prudent punter a nice profit each week. Let's assume you bet one treble a day for 6 days a week. That's an outlay of \$6. One treble of three horses at 6/4 each would give you a huge profit on turnover.

Another scenario:: Let's assume you back 180 trebles a season. If 150 go down and the rest average only 9 units profit each that will give you a total return of 300 units, and a profit of 120 units.

Translate this into \$10 bets, and the result is:

Season's bets: 180 x \$10 = \$1800.
Total wins: 30 x \$100 return: \$3000.
Profit: \$1200.

This assumes a strike rate of one treble every 6 bets, or 16.66 per cent. What if you couldn't achieve this? A one in 10 strike rate would give you a total of 18 trebles for the year. To break even, each treble would have to pay you around the \$10 mark. If this happened, your total return would be \$180. And what is required for a \$10 treble? Well, two winners at evens and one at 6/4 will return you 9 units profit (a \$10 dividend). That doesn't seem too great a task, does it?

I am all for short-priced horses in trebles. It's easier for a punter to find three winners at 6/4 than one at 14/1! In other words, three hotpots instead of one roughie!

There are many ways of nailing down such winners. You can find a method of picking out the safest favorites on a program. This approach will certainly give you a fighting chance of landing enough trebles to make your betting pay.

Don't forget that my figures have been based on low-paying trebles. Hook a few at double-figure returns and your balance starts to look far more attractive.

A friend of mine uses a simplistic approach yet manages to find an amazing number of winning threesomes. His plan is to study laststart winners. He tries to stick to the ones that are the shortest-priced on a program. He ignores anything lower than 4/5 and won't touch any runner at longer than 3/1(pre-post). For instance, on Saturday, April 23, he chose two runners in Sydney and one in Melbourne, though on this occasion his Melbourne selection let him down! But his 2 Sydney winners were excellent - Aragen at 4/1 and Pringle at 2/1. Those gave him a lead-in of 15 units into the third horse!

You can easily spread these all-up treble bets over more than one day. If you can't see three top bets for the day, then back one or two and, if you have a 2nd or 3rd leg to go, then wait for another day. It takes patience but it's worth it.

Don Scott's wise advice is always worth bearing in mind. Consider only the good value chances after eliminating the bad value.

This means you have to cull through the fields very carefully. Chuck out the rubbish; concentrate on the best. Most times you'll be right.

The same thinking applies to doubles. Many professional punters make good money from doubles betting - and the one thing they do not do is to take Field doubles; that is, a banker with the field in the second leg (or vice-versa). There's no longterm value in this approach.

Don Scott described such Field doubles as 'fruitless and wasteful' because most long-priced horses, though quoted at 200/1 and even 300/1, are really 1,000/1 chances! If one of them wins, it is a miracle, said Scott in his book Winning More, and there is no point protesting yourself against miracles!

The parlay bet is a combination of doubles and trebles. It allows you to link a certain number of horses into doubles and trebles. A Yankee bet is probably the best known - it comprises 4 horses which are linked in 6 doubles, 4 trebles and one all-up accumulator.

The Canadian is the next best known, though some punters don't like it because it comprises so many bets - 5 selections into 10 doubles, 10 trebles, 5 accumulators and one 'five in a row'; that's 26 bets altogether. Another variation is one that links 6 selections into 15 doubles, 20 trebles, 15 accumulators, six 'five in a rows' and one 6-horse accumulator. That's a total of 57 bets (which may explain why in the UK this particular bet is called The
Heinz).

If you are serious about coming to grips with doubles and trebles, then choosing one of these three angles of betting could be just what you need.

Alternatively, the punter seeking doubles' profits can look at the one double a week bet. Wait for Saturday's racing, choose your T.A.B. Double, and go for broke on one big double.

That would be 52 doubles a year; at \$10 each you would be risking \$520. Two doubles at \$26 each would see you break even. That's a strike rate of only 3.84 per cent. I'm sure a sensible bettor could achieve better than this on doubles.

Now to a system which will help you choose the horses to go into your doubles and trebles. It's a method of form study drawn up some 30 years ago by a most astute British punter and which I have adapted for Australian racing.

DOUBLE-ACTION PLAN

1. Concentrate on one Daily Double per Saturday. This can be at any venue and can be a Daily Double or an Extra Double. Alternatively, you can use the all-up betting approach and select any 2 races on a card.
2. Eliminate horses with bad form and who look outclassed. In any field you should be able to eliminate at least 25 per cent or thereabouts. That is, in a 10 horse field, at least 2 or 3.

In a 12 horse field, at least 3 and so on. If you have difficulty, then simply axe any horse which ran 9th or worse last start, or which was beaten 12 lengths or more. That will get rid of a few.
3. List the others in order of chance - 'very rough', 'rough', 'fair' and then 'chance', 'better chance' and 'top chance'. Use the pre-post betting market as an initial guide and then see how your assessments match.
4. Consider only those horses you have decided rank as 'better chances' and 'top chances'. These should total about 3 in all.
5. Weigh each horse's chance very carefully. Give preference to runners who have sound records at the track and distance and which are drawn well and are to be ridden by a top jockey. If a horse comes from a leading stable then this is a big plus.

Remember that horses at even relatively short prices can pay very good dividends. Take, as an example, the Caulfield daily double of April 23.

The first leg winner was Chiliad at 5/2 and the second leg went to Turnout at 5/1. Now, on an all-up basis, using SP as a guide, the double should have paid 3.5 x 6.0, equaling \$21 for \$1. But on the Victorian T.A.B. the dividend was more than \$34 and on the Queensland TAB the return was \$29.

Finally, a strategy based on wins and prizemoney earnings.

THE PRIZE ANGLE

1. Choose which Daily Double you are going to bet on.
2. In each leg choose the horse which has had the most wins in its career. These become the banker horses providing they are at 10/1 or under in the betting.
3. If two horses are equal with wins, choose the one with the highest total earnings in its career.

By Richard Hartley Jnr

PRACTICAL PUNTING - JUNE 1994