When all else is lost ... have a lash at the trifecta! This might well be the thinking of many a desperate punter as he faces a day of losses betting for win and place.

Most punters, though - if the tote turnover stats are to be believed look at the trifecta as their 'bread and butter' betting facility. We all seem to love the tri!

Its appeal, naturally, is that it offers the prospect of a lot of money for a little. It's the lure of the golden egg, though, as Don Scott has pointed out, most times the trifectas pay well below what their 'true odds' are considered to be.

Even those longshot trifectas paying thousands of dollars are more than likely half or a quarter of what they should be. Nevertheless, the average punter likes the trifecta, he chases it regularly, and, no doubt, is satisfied enough when he cops a return.

As with other forms of betting, there is no easy answer to the riddle of the trifecta. Finding three runners to place 1/2/3 in the exact order is a difficult task.

Research shows that 98 per cent of bettors will simply use a straight 'box' approach, linking 3, 4 or more horses (or dogs) together. Research also shows that this is a speedy way to the non-profit graveland.

Value is the name of the game. Boxing, especially if you incorporate the favourite, is never going to work out in the long run. Your money will drip-feed away. If you can avoid it, give up on the straight 'box' approach.

If you want to enjoy 'trifecta heaven' you will need to be creative, inventive and bold, putting your faith in solo standouts or double bankers. You also will need the resolve to ignore hotpots. It will mean fewer returns, but your returns are likely to be more than big enough to see you emerge with a long-term profit.

One professional I meet regularly has a policy of finding a standout banker priced at 4/1 or longer (usually no longer than around 7/1) and he links this with other value runners - and ALWAYS leaves out the favourite.

He varies the bets according to the estimated prices of the selections – putting more units on the better the price of his top-rated runner. Example: If he has rated his best selection as an evens chance and it is priced at, say, 4/1 in the early market, he will bet in $4 trifecta units. If his banker is, say, priced by him at 2/1 and 3/1 is available, then the unit bet will be $1. If the banker is priced at, say, 6/4 by him and 6/1 is on offer, then his units are bumped up to 4 or 5 each.

In other words, the bigger the overlay on his banker the harder he goes in for the kill. So far, it's worked well for him, and he's been following the idea for a couple of years now. This man recently spent some time in Hong Kong, pursuing the same line of thinking, and reports several splendid results.

The average punter with not much to spend can follow the same approach by simply betting in $1 or 50c units. Taking a banker with 3 others (to run 2nd and 3rd) costs $6 for $1, taking a banker with 4 others costs $12 and with 5 others costs $20, and with 6 others the cost is $30.

Another of my friends believes in the multiple approach, whereby you link a lot more horses together. He suggests a 4 x 4 x 10 linkup. This is reasonably pricey at $48 for 50c units, but it does give you a great chance of landing some big value trifectas.

This chap – a solicitor by day, serious punter on Saturdays – is basically suggesting you link 4 selections to fill 1st and 2nd, and then using the same 4 with another 6 selections for 3rd.

He tells me he has landed trifectas paying up to $10,000 with this approach - but, once again, here's a man who likes to leave out the favourite.

His proviso, though, is that he only axes the fav when it is paying less than 2/1. He figures that heavily-backed favs are going to kill the payout, so he simply bets against them filling a place. When it comes off, which is quite often, it means a generous trifecta divvie.

In his excellent book Commonsense Punting, Roger Dedman points out how value can be obtained betting trifectas when your first selection is at 16/1 or better.

Says Roger: "By combining it all ways with the other main chances in the race, you could score a very handsome dividend; but you will still need to outlay quite a lot. If you give only three other runners a chance, you still have to spend $18 to combine 4 horses in box trifectas, all containing your longshot selection."

Roger goes on to explain the 'banker' method, which I have already outlined. But he does add the words of warning that for a small punter, those 16/1 shots rarely come up! His advice is that these punters should keep their trifecta bets to a minimum, saying: "The lure of a big dividend traps many small punters into outlaying more on trifectas than they would consider having on a straight out bet, with far less chance of collecting.

"When they do pick one up, so does nearly every other trifecta punter, and it will nowhere near cover the outlay over weeks of losing trifectas. There is money to be made on trifectas, but not only must your selection method be sound, you must also be prepared to outlay substantial amounts on a single race if you hope to make regular profits."

Roger Dedman's point is well taken, but the fact remains that many, many punters want to 'have a go' and they will not be dissuaded from betting on the trifectas.

The following are just a few combination approaches you can consider:



With this method, you are using a rover banker to run 1st, 2nd or 3rd. Provided your other selections fill the placings, you will land the trifecta for $18. The same idea using 4 others, will cost $36. That's not a bad bet, really. The chance is there to land some hefty divvies if your banker can fill a place.



This is a bold approach in which you hope to snare the quinella within your top 3 selections, and then grab the 3rd spot with 7 others added. The outlay is $48 for $1 and $24 for 50c units. A fair amount to lay out each time but if you are confident that your assessments of the top three can get the 1st and 2nd spots, you should be cooking with gas for the 3rd spot, given that you'll have one of these going for you, along with 7 others!



This approach gives you two selections for the win, and then floats them through for 2nd an 3rd as well (if one of them wins, the other then gets a chance to fill 2nd or 3rd). For 2nd place, you add another four selections, giving you six selections for that spot (though in reality only five will be there because A or B will have taken 1st place if the tri is alive).

Then for 3rd place, you take all these selections plus another two (G and H). Your outlay for this multiple would be $60 for $1 units and $30 for 50c units - and I would recommend the latter bet. Once again, you get a great coverage for 2nd and 3rd if you can land the winner.



This might look a bold approach but it's a sound one if you can come up with a top-notch banker. What you are doing is linking a banker to win a race, and putting in 10 others for 2nd and 3rd. It might seem it will cost a lot but it doesn't really. The outlay required is $90, or just $45 for 50c units (recommended).

Used in major races, like the Melbourne Cup, this one can haul in trifectas worth thousands of dollars.



A small outlay approach. The cost is $8 or $4 for 50c units.

By Richard Hartley Jnr