Doubles, trebles, trifectas, first-4s . . . all these exotic type bets continue to attract money from Australia's punters. The reason is that they allow the punters who bet in small amounts the opportunity to receive back big amounts.

In a way, a bit like Lotto, but with infinitely better odds of getting a return. Trebles, especially in these days of All-Up betting, are becoming increasingly popular. I guess they're a daring sort of wager, because you are chasing three winners in a row, and as we all know, it's hard enough to pick one winner, let alone three.

But the lure of bets like the treble remains, and I can well understand why punters stick their money into them. Especially so when a lot of punters shoot for place trebles. These are much easier to get, especially when you are content to pick up the low dividends attached to very well-fancied gallopers.

I know a chap in Sydney who chases place trebles all the time. He tells me he strikes a lot and averages around 5/2 for the three. I attended a recent country meeting with him and saw him bet at three meetings, and pick up a total of 21 place trebles out of a possible 24.

I thought a good system might be devised where you combined the treble chasing with favourites. My good friend The Optimist is something of a believer in this approach and has talked about it before.

Basically, what both myself and The Optimist propose is a simple race-by-race attack on the trebles, using the race favourites as the selections. There are many ways of using this plan. You can go race-by-race or you could be more selective about which races you bet on.

You can use off-course trebles only where they are available, but then the odds are likely to be less than palatable if three favourites win the treble legs as everyone will have 'saver' bets on them.

The idea calls for an outlay, on average, of $8 per meeting (betting in $1 units). Bet in $2 units and you'll be up for $16, and so on. The plan is extremely easy to operate and can be setup using pre-post morning markets if you wish, or can be operated on the racecourse, when bets would be placed shortly before the jump, once the favourite was established.

You do, however, have to maintain a record book, because the plan calls for rollover bets from meeting to meeting. The basic idea is that every race begins a treble. and the selection is every favourite. That's all there is to it.

If there's a race in which you have two or more equal favourites, you could select the first horse listed, or perhaps take the one with the best jockey, or the one with the lowest weight. Whatever you decide on, it's best to be completely consistent about it. Write in the rule and stick to it.

If you are going to use a newspaper's pre-post betting market, you have to decide which newspaper you are going to use--and make sure you stick to the same one. Alternatively, you could listen to the radio markets issued during the Saturday morning broadcasts; this would at least provide an update on what's in your morning paper.

Okay: Each race commences a treble, the favourite for this race, into the favourite for the second race, into the favourite for the third race. When you get to the second-last race you will have a double on it and the last, and, if both win the return is carried over to the favourite in the first race at the next meeting.

The bet on the last race will be a single bet, but any return is also carried over to the favourites in races one and two at the next meeting. The following is an example of a day's betting:

Race One: Bet $1 favourites on races 1-2-3
Race Two: Bet $1 favourites on races 2-3-4
Race Three: Bet $1 favourites on races 3-4-5
Race Four Bet $1 favourites on races 4-5-6
Race Five: Bet $1 favourites on races 7
Race Six: Bet $1 favourites on races 6-7-8
Race Seven: Bet $1 favourites on races 7-8
Race Eight. Bet $1 favourite on race 8.

If the favourites in races 7 and 8 win, you will have that collect to put on the favourite in the first race the following meeting. The same goes for the money returned from race 8-it goes onto the favourites in the first two races at the next meeting.

As one example of what can happen, let's assume that the favourites win races 4, 5, 6 and 7. This gives you two winning trebles (races 4-5-6 and 5-6-7). Let's say the favourites were at evens, 5/2, 2/1 and 11/4.

Your first treble would return $21, the second treble would return $39, for a total collect of $60, putting you $52 in front on the day, enough for another six meetings' betting.

You can, of course, use this race-by-race with your own selections, or those of your favourite newspaper or radio tipster. I have suggested favourites because 1 feel reasonably sure that in any given month you are likely to strike some very nice returns.

Let's look at October last year as an example: There were six Melbourne metropolitan meetings on which to bet, and the results using the favourites were as follows:

Lost, Lost, WON 1 / 1, WON 8/11, 3rd, WON 9/4, Lost, WON 7/4.

Although four favourites won, they were not in three successive races. However, we did have a winner from the last race carried over to the next meeting.

WON 15 /8, 3rd, Lost, 2nd, Lost, WON 7/4, Lost 6/1, WON 13/4.

Once again, we hit three winners but no trebles, but again we have a winner in the final race being carried over to the next meeting. Our losses so far are $15 with $1 being live on the carryover.

2nd, Lost, 3rd, Lost, Lost, WON 3/1, Lost, Lost.

Not much luck at this meeting, with only one winner cropping up. Our losses for the three meetings so far total $24.

2nd, 3rd, 2nd, WON 1/1, WON 10/9, WON 13/8,3rd, Lost, WON 13/4.

This was a much better meeting and gave us the first treble, and left us with a 'live' bet on a 13/4 winner going on to the first race at the next meeting. The treble returned only 11 units but it was a fillip and, as you can see from the results, this was dose to being a marvellous day, with four favourites running placings. Had they won, the trebles would have rolled in.

WON 8/11, WON 13/8, Lost, Lost, 2nd, Lost, Lost, 3rd.

The carryover bet landed the two extra legs and so we collared another treble, this time returning 19 units.

WON 10/9,2nd, Lost, Lost, WON 11 /4, WON1/1, WON5/1, 2nd.

Once again a good meeting, with an excellent treble secured, returning 45 units. The total for all six meetings was a total stake of 48 units, with a total return of 75, giving a healthy profit margin of 27 units, or 56.25 per cent on turnover.

With just a trace more luck we could have hit many more trebles, but even on what was rather a moderate month, the method was able to make a very handsome profit, with only three trebles landed, and one of them containing three winners at fairly skinny odds (evens, 10/9 and 13/8).

You could take this trebles plan on the favourites even further by adding in $1 place trebles bets. This would provide you with probably four times as many winning trebles. For instance, last October you would have landed 12 place trebles at the six meetings.

Those of you who like doubles could consider taking favourites in doubles race-by-race. This would have landed you eight win doubles in the October test in Melbourne, returning about 52 units, for a slight profit on 48 invested.
If you could get 12 to 15 place trebles up each month, from 48 races, these trebles would have to average more than 2/1 to enable you to break square and make a profit. If we take a hypothetical place treble of three favourites each paying, say, $1.40 we would secure a return of around $2.75, or odds of 7/4.

If, however, each favourite averaged out at, say, $1.60 we would get a 3/1 treble up. If we could strike 15 of these 3/1 trebles we would be into a healthy profit situation.

Once again I stress that you do not have to use favourites if you don't wish to. You can use your own selections, or those of someone else, or even the selections of a system you may be operating.

Psychologically, you should not expect to hit win trebles with gay abandon. If you can score with four a month, with just one of them containing a nice 4/1 or 5/1 winner, you could get right into some decent profits.

The October test saw us hit with only three trebles, but the last one--containing a 5/1 winner and an 11/4 chance enabled us to streak away with a profit on the month's betting.

With the place trebles, you can anticipate many more successes. With the win doubles, you will probably double the number of trebles you can get, but you should be prepared to accept small profit margins.

It might be better to double your bet on the trebles instead of having the other dollar on the doubles.

By Richard Hartley Jnr