Regular PPM readers will be aware that my wife and I run a souvenir, T-shirt and bit-of-everything shop at Victor Harbour, a holiday spot some 80 km south of Adelaide.

Although I write regularly about betting and selection, I rarely have a bet these days but when I'm not busy in the shop I can invariably be found muddling around with my great hobby, trifecta systems.

From time to time one of our assistants likes the occasional trifecta wager and I have tried, time and again, to convince her that a Box-4 tri is NOT the way to go.

But I still have the feeling she is not too sure what I am talking about. I wonder why ... because I have never known her to have a collect on one of her trifectas! I dare say that when you make your selections based around the names of the horses, your winning days may be a long way apart.

Then there is Anne (not her real name). She works in a nearby shop and loves a bet. She also sees trifectas as the opportunity to make big money out of a relatively small investment. She either takes a Box4 or Box-5 trifecta (\$12 or \$30 using 50c units).

One day I gave Anne a few copies of PPM to read. She brought them back with one question:

"Do you mean I don't have to box the runners in my trifectas?" You see, Anne just didn't know there was another way.

I wonder how many other people are like Sue and Anne? Most once-a-week punters, I imagine.

Boxing is easy, which is why punters easily accept it as the only form of trifecta approach.

Box-3 is \$3, Box-4 is \$12, Box-5 is \$30. It's all so simple.

For \$12, though, why not a multiple linking of 2x4x6? That is, your first two selections to win, the same two plus two others to run 2nd, and that four and two more for 3rd. Or, for \$30, a 2x6x8 combination?

Working out the cost is easy. Some TABs produce little charts to tell you. If you don't have access, the workout is as easy as pie.

Example: 2x6x8 horses becomes a dollar multiplier of 2x5x6, or \$30 in 50c units. You take ONE away from the number of selections for 2nd position, and TWO away from the number selected for 3rd. Therefore, a combination of, say, 3x4x8 would be worked out as 3x3x6, a total of 54 units (\$27 using 50c units).

Readers of my articles in PPM will know by now that I don't at all like the idea of straight box trifectas. I consider you can do much better over the longer term if you use other combinations. It will NOT cost you more; it may even costless.

For instance, you may find that a 2x3x7 trifecta, for \$10, will outperform a Box-4 for \$12. Over a period of time I am reasonably certain it will.

Indeed, by not boxing you will miss some trifectas. And if you change to what I suggest, and miss a big divvie, you will no doubt be cranky on yourself (and me). But those extra selections, particularly in the 3rd position, will eventually bear fruit. Just keep at it and keep strict records of both methods.

For the seven weeks leading up to writing this article, I've been maintaining my own detailed records of the latest trifecta selection system which has crossed my path. It is all quite promising so far.

I realise it's a short and inadequate period of testing (156 races with nine or more starters across four States) but I think the results are useful and give an idea of what you can expect.

Please don't get too carried away about these results. I have seen results like this before but eventually sent the selection approach to the scrap-heap! I find that any costly run of cuts soon kills my enthusiasm to keep going with all the paperwork, regardless of what may turn out to be a satisfactory long-term investment proposition!

This current selection plan shows enormous promise, though, and I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will avoid soul-destroying losing runs.

Let's start with what happened using a Box-5 combination compared with the step-ladder multiples. All cost the same amount, \$30.

Box-5: -\$311 (won five weeks from seven).

2x6x8: +\$3785 (won four weeks from seven).

3x5x7: +1425 (won four weeks from seven).

2x7x7: +\$3356 (won six weeks from seven).

Now let's see how a Box-4 compares with similar step-ladder multiples. All cost the same, \$12.

Box-4  \$407 (won 2 from 7) 2x3x8  +\$204 (won 2 from 7) 2x5x5  +\$354 (won 3 from 7) 2x4x6  \$330 (won 2 from 7) 3x3x6  +\$196 (won 2 from 7)

Using a Box-3, for only \$3 a race, is an interesting one, winning \$623 from five winning weeks out of seven, which may seem to defeat my theory. As another matter of interest, a 3x7x9 for \$63 over the same period showed an 'on paper' profit of \$6876 (winning six out of the seven weeks).

These figures are, indeed, food for thought. They indicate to me that unless lucky and flukey wins are with you, the less you outlay the less chance you have of winning the big ones.

But the figures also suggest again that 'boxing' is probably not the best way to go when investing your trifecta dollar. The same can probably be said for the quinella followers. Over the same seven weeks, investing on a Box-S quinella for the 156 races (at \$5 per race) provided the following results:

Alternative \$5 Outlay:

* Take the top selection individually with selections 3 to 7, (\$2.50), and

* Take the second selection individually with selections 3 to 7, (\$2.50).

These approaches resulted in a profit of \$477 (won all seven weeks) against a \$58 profit for the Box-3 (won four weeks out of seven).

You can see that I do not couple my top two selections in my system. The 1-2 combination has been showing a slight loss on outlay with the current selection approach. As well, I consider there is better long-term value in quinella combinations such as the ones I've outlined.

If you are an investor who takes a Box-6 quinella (\$7.50) on your own selections or rating method, you may like to consider these:

Other Alternatives:

* Take your top selection individually with selections 3 to 8. Cost \$3;

* Take your second selection with selections 3 to 7. Cost \$2.50;

* Take your third selection with selections 4 to 6. Cost \$1.50;

* Take your fourth selection with selection 5. Cost 50c.

Your total outlay incorporating these four approaches will be \$7.50, the same as a Box 6 quinella.

In making all these suggestions, I am trying to make you THINK about how your money is best invested on quinellas and trifectas. Always remember that there is a better way than those old Box-This and Box-That bets.

You need to give yourself the best possible chance of winning longterm, while keeping your outlay to within your own financial constraints.

In the end, however, it's your decision as to whether my ideas will suit your own betting profile.

By Barry Meyer

PRACTICAL PUNTING - APRIL 1998