It's amazing, isn't it, how punters all around the world can't seem to get enough of quinella betting. In fact, quinella's offshoot, the exacta, is just as popular in many countries, particularly the U.S.A.

Here in Australia we refer to the exacta as a 'forecast' (first two horses/dogs in correct order). The quinella is an easier bet (first two in any order) but naturally the dividends are not as high as those with the exacta.

But what is the best way to go about beating the quinella? The answer, I am convinced, is not to adopt the average punter's approach of just taking box quinellas. In the end, the divvies will ensure you go broke.

In a new booklet called Multiple Choice, A Guide To Winning With The Quinella, by Ian Barns, of the Punter's Choice racing service, the ins-and-outs of quinella betting are covered in detail. A feature of this product is a separate plastic card called 'Quincard' which tells you at a glance how much money to bet on all the various quinella combinations.

It's important in quinella betting that you try to get value, just as you do when betting win and place. My bet a quinella which is paying, say, 7/1 when you know that if the odds were fair it should be paying 14/1? The Quincard concept helps in that it enables you to tell quickly whether the quinella odds on the track TV monitor are 'fair'.

For instance, Quincard tells you that two horses at 3/1 and 15/8 will need a bet of 25 units to return you 100. If you check the prices on the track monitor and see that this combination is paying $5 you can easily ascertain that this is a value price, because 25 times 5 equals $125.

When betting quinellas it's been my experience that you should always ignore races which have less than 10 runners. Why? Because the value just won't be there. The small field means that punters are more easily able to couple up all the combinations.

The more runners there are the better the quinella dividends are going to be. Professional punter Don Scott, in his bestselling books, points out that small fields mean poor value at least 60 per cent of the time.

There is another warning for quinella punters seeking to secure long-term profits: Don't back the hot favourites! Some horses end up at crazy odds on the tote, and whenever this happens you can virtually be sure that the quinella dividend will pay just as badly.

Trying to work out what quinellas will pay is a difficult exercise. Fortunately, there are publications around, like the Punter's Choice one, which can help in this regard. It has a 'theoretical dividends' chart in the back of the booklet.

You can tell at a glance what the divvies should be-for instance, a 13/2 chance and a 2/1 chance mean odds of 8.5 to 1. An 11/4 chance with a 25/1 chance mean odds of 41/1.

Don Scott's advice is that you eliminate all races with fewer than 10 runners, eliminate all bad value chances-and then combine the top chances in quinellas according to their true quinella odds. This simply means that if a quinella dividend is not showing value you don't back it.

If you don't have access to things like Quincard and so on, you can use a simple technique to calculate likely quinella dividends. It's a fairly accurate method. Let's assume you have two horses at 4/1 and 5/1. You add ONE to the 4/1 chance and then multiply the two figures-5 x 5 equalling 25, and then divide that figure by 2, leaving you with an estimated divvy of around 12/1. (Some people claim you shouldn't divide by 2 but I suspect that if you don't you will be anticipating quinella payouts that are far too optimistic).

Using this method, you might have a horse at 3/1 and another at 6/4. The multiplication is 4 x 1.5 equalling 6, which is divided by 2 giving you a potential 3/1 quinella. This corresponds very well with the divvies listed by Punter's Choice and other services.

What I am now going to recommend is a special staking plan for punters who like to play the quinellas on a serious basis, and who are confident they can strike at least ONE solid quinella in 25 attempts. The staking plan, in units, goes as follows:


Using $1 units this is a total of 50 units ($50). Let's say you went 9 quinellas without a win. You would have staked $16. Your next bet is a $3 bet. Your quinella gets up and pays $8.50, returning you $25.50. You are now well in profit. Total stake has been $19, total return $25.50. You are $6.50 ahead and you've only struck one moderately priced quinella!

You never risk too much money with this approach. Even if your first 16 bets all lost you would be down only $50. If this happens you can adopt one of two approaches-(a) start a new progression; or (b) start a new progression from the halfway point (that is, from the second $3 bet) and continue from there.

Quinella betting may look easy but, like other forms of betting, it has its traps and pitfalls for the unwary. The key is not to link up too many horses; you have to select your races carefully. Ignoring races with less than 10 runners is a simple way of cutting back on your bets.

Remember that you are seeking value. If very short-priced horses dominate the race and look like winning, stay clear. Always try to ensure that you are betting sensibly-don't bet the quinella combinations that are under the odds, put your money only on those which offer value.

You can follow the progression staking I've outlined, or adopt the other approach of betting in accordance with the 'fair' price of the quinella, on overlays only. It's up to you.

By Jon Hudson