I want to consider how you might be able to improve your chances of winning a trifecta. Obviously the best way to improve your chances of winning is to stick with the first three favourites and bet 1, 2, 3.

Or so the story goes. You would expect this to be statistically true. It probably is, over a million races.

But betting on a few events each day (or even each week) you could have a long wait, because it is not that simple. Horses do not obey the rules in this regard. Look up your records and check how many races finished with the first three favourites in order. There will not be many. And yet more than 25 per cent of trifectas pay less than \$100. How can this be so, when the results are not straightforward?

Another 30 per cent or so pay less than \$200, and 98 per cent pay under \$1000. And so, to get a trifecta paying four figures, you are going to have to bet in one race in 500. The correct race in 500! The other 499 won’t do it for you. My view? Stop trying for those, and seek out the middle road. About 35 per cent to 45 per cent of trifectas pay between \$200 and \$1000.

It would be interesting to see comparisons between TABs here. Some of the difficulties for TAB Ltd customers are associated with the flexi betting process. Surely nobody believes that this method doesn’t substantially reduce big dividends. The fact is that many thousands of dollars are spread across "impossible" combinations (especially the field), so that a real bonanza might end up as half a bonanza.

A fellow was actually mentioned recently by the TAB for getting a big quadrella. In fact, he got (as I recall) 1.25 per cent of it. If you take, for example, Lonhro to win, ten horses to run second and ten to run third, that’s ninety combinations. If you want to have a bet of \$10 on that trifecta, your share of any successful combination will be 1/9, or 11 per cent.

Put twelve horses in for second and third, and your share is 7.5 per cent. Trifectas with winners like Lonhro do not pay very much, regardless of what runs the places, and you will probably come out a loser. After all, that first trifecta, with a very short winner, has to pay more than \$90 for you to cut better than even. The other has to pay even more.

A better method might be to wait for a race where the short-priced favourite looks vulnerable. Or even where there is the chance of a very big payout if he doesn’t run first or second.

What you need to remember is that the public will either stand out the favourite, or box him. So we will allow him to run third at best.

You want him out of the first and second places, and you know that if he wins, the dividend will be poor. That is your risk area. If the favourite wins, or is runner-up, it is like backing a loser, because your trifecta won’t win. But remember it was no value to take a trifecta with him up front.

Take the next three in the market to run first and second, with the first four in the market to run third.

Why omit the favourite from the winning and second spots? No value. Save half the stake. Instead, cover your bet. Assume the favourite will start at \$2.50. He will be a warm favourite or your whole process is not worth doing.
Have the other \$12 on him to win.

So, if he wins, you get the odds to \$12 (let us say \$18 profit, less the \$12 for the trifecta). That is 25 per cent profit on turnover.

If he runs second, that is the vulnerable area for us. We lose the whole \$24. If he runs third and we get the first two correct, we collect the trifecta. A reasonable trifecta under these circumstances will pay perhaps \$100 or more (because of the favourite’s popularity – if he misses out and you still get the trifecta, it may be a better return).

So that is one way of combating the favourite’s monopoly. It is a safer method than most, but of course it is not a fortune maker.

Here is another one to try.

RULES

1. Stick to ONE race per day.
2. Seek a race that has one, two or three last-start winners.
3. Select the last-start winners to win.
4. For second and third placings, ADD any horses which have won ANY of their past three starts (ignore spells).
5. Restrict total runners to SIX horses maximum, including those in Rule 3. If more, delete the race.

Invest on this multiple combination.

This means you have stood out one, two or three horses, at the top of their form, to win. Then you have backed up with any horse that has managed any win in its past three runs.

If you had, say, three last-start winners and another three that had won ANY of their last three runs (making six altogether for second and third), you’d have 3 x 6 x 6 = \$30 for a 50 cent investment unit.

This bet is actually A/BCDEF; B/ACDEF; and C/ABDEF. It is three win standouts.

Each one costs \$10 for 5 cents. You will have a maximum (depending on last-start winners) of \$10, \$20 or \$30 outlaid. Remember to delete any race that asks you for more than a 60 combination investment.

By Jon Hudson

PRACTICAL PUNTING - MAY 2004