In a recent article in PPM I wrote about finding new inspiration in my punting life since becoming a devotee of Perth racing.

Although the same stock of horses run in Perth you do not need to clutter your brain trying to decipher the enormous variances in class that are a punter's nightmare in Melbourne and Sydney for the simple reason that Perth has fewer classes to deal with.

In the same article I wrote that I had decided to set out on a recorded journey towards making a comfortable sideline out of the punt.

Most readers of PPM and contributors to the Internet discussion group Ausrace would be aware that although I take my punting very keenly and try to think about what I am doing with my hard earned, the fact is I am not what you might call a leviathan punter. Those close to me know of my frenzied approach to betting. I love to have lots of minor bets and over many years I was quite happy to break square.

However, as we grow older we question our life and although I do not want to sound like Maharishi Roman the point is that after some Buddhist type reflection I realised I had become a bit bored with it all and needed rejuvenation in the form of a clear target.

I decided to start with a betting bank of $5,000 and my aim was to win 1 per cent, or $50 per week, over the course of 12 months, which equates to a profit of approximately $2,600 or an increase of the betting bank of just over 50 per cent.

This I believe is a realistic goal and if I'm successful I will have $7,600 at the end of Year 1, and by the end of Year 2 I will have over $10,000, or the same as having doubled my initial bank. I am too frightened to think about things after Year 10!

So here I am after 12 weeks (I am writing this just before Christmas) and I should be $600 in front. The good news is I AM in front and right on target, but if Madame Lash was around I would be asking for a severe whipping as a couple of silly mistakes cost me over $200 and they were all my own fault.

There have been a couple of major surprises, too, in this 12 week period and I wish to share them with you as well as one sad moment where I did everything right but everything went wrong and cost me an extra $1,000 plus.

I seriously started logging my bets on September 25. In all past punting endeavours I have always struck a run of cuts when starting a new punting *"thing" but lo-and-behold this was not the case and I opened with a nice $200 profit early in the day, then a disappointing run by Corporate Sam on October 2 carrying a $240 place bet (fourth in a field of eight) had me breaking square, but then it began...

The punting gods had decided to lull me into a sense of false security and with great confidence I slapped $220 the win on Regimental Gal at Caulfield the following week.

After she was beaten it was ”splat" but I gulped and placed $300 on Grand Armee for the place (2nd) and recovered most of the earlier loss.

Perth started with a $260 place bet on Refemme (hit the running rail) but I rallied with good old Stockies Yarn and Royal Minx to lose a miserable $90 on the day.

I did not bet at all on Caulfield Cup Day as I was not having small bets and I didn't fancy any big bets either, including Perth. It was a weird feeling not having a bet on such a day as I have bet on every Caulfield Cup Day since 1968.

Aaah! Cox Plate Day and this is the day for the punter: Good fields with solid chances plus I had a few beauties worked out for Perth.

After losing on Regimental Gal a couple of weeks earlier, I forgave her as I believed she might have needed the run. I stepped into her again for $300 this time, thank you very much, and down I went when she ran a lacklustre second.

I'm an optimistic type and there was no way Elvstroem would not be sitting in the box seat at the 600m mark biding its time and $300 the place at $1.75 seemed easy money.

The beautiful camera shot they had from behind the stalls showed him perfectly, missing the jump by a clear length, but it ain't over till the fat lady sings and at the 600m mark I had not given up but I was testy.

Crunch! Just when he was going to make a run the poleaxe hit across the eyes ... but wait, there was more; he recovered and stormed home but not fast enough. Gee whiz, now I knew what a gutted fish felt like but

I have money and I have faith so I plonked $250 on True Glo for the place, reasoning this was the perfect field for this pretty classy steed.

All went beautifully until the 600m mark when he dropped back and that was that. It made very sad reading the next day to find out that he pulled up lame.

Fortunately, I held my own in Perth later in the day but I ended up losing $825. I was feeling awful.

This is where all aspirants for greater heights will find themselves at some crucial stage. You find yourself staring down the barrel wondering who you have hurt in a past life. Never mind, it was Derby Day and after breaking even I felt that maybe the bad luck had passed me.

You fool, Roman. Little did I know another test was coming my way on Melbourne Cup Day and I'm sure some of you were tested the same way.

We knew it was going to rain and when it did it poured, so I logged onto the NSW TAB to bet Flexibet Trifectas on the Cup and could not do so because the TAB had a breakdown (similar to mine after the race).

I had to watch $1,200 NOT hop into my account as Zazzman, the horse I wanted to bet, held on for 3rd in the Cup and landed the Trifecta I would have bet, but at least I had logged onto Betfair and I could not believe my eyes. They were betting $44 the PLACE when I thought that might have been a fair win price.

I quickly put the minimum $6 on and actually made a profit on a Melbourne Cup, the first since Let's Elope won, but it was with mixed emotions, as you can imagine.

I did not have a bet on Oaks Day but Emirates Stakes Day showed me how fickle luck can be in the racing game. In the Emirates I had $20 worth of Flexibet Trifectas and left Grand Armee out of everything. Thirty metres out I had nothing but in the twinkling of an eye the race changed and with the aid of the $70odd winner I collected $539 and after $5,638 worth of bets since September 25 I was smiling - I was only losing $16!

Since then it's been a roller coaster ride with some good days and some bad days. However, two mistakes cost me dearly.

On December 4, I put a Betfair bid in for $75 the win Tudor Storm in Perth at a price I thought I would not get but hoped for anyway. That price was not available minutes before the race so I took $75 at a lower price and just as I was about to cancel the first bid someone gave me the original price.

It lost and I had lost an extra $75. I also made a monumental blunder on Sunday, December 12 when I wanted to have $5 worth of Flexibet First Fours but when the $120 bet came onto the screen for acceptance I read it as 120 per cent (don't ask me how, it was just plain dumb) and all of a sudden I had an extra $115 riding on a First Four which if successful would have set me up for the year.

Sadly, I went close but no chocolates. I guess this is just the way it's going to be sometimes, no matter how careful we try to be.

Well, what have I found out? My figures show that my larger bets, those I am most confident about, have been a flop so far but my exotic bets (the Quadrella and First Four bets on the NSW TAB via Flexi-betting) have been a beauty for me.

Rather than dissect all my bets into a myriad of charts I shall detail the broad figures into larger bets ($40 or more), smaller bets and exotics which, barring my $115 blunder, were small bets. The figures show

Larger bets:
Win only $2,045 bet, returned $1,316; place only $5,031 bet, returned $5,165.

Smaller bets:
Win only $400 bet, returned $459; place only $241 bet, returned $654.

$438 bet, returned $1,381.

The totals show an overall outlay of $8,155 bet returning $8,975 for a profit of $820 covering the period September 25 to December 26. The profit is actually ahead of target.

The most apparent area of concern is the larger win bets which show a dismal set of figures. However, considering Regimental Gal cost me over $500 in two bets and then the absolutely awful Cox Plate Day, I am not perturbed to any great extent as I know I will surely come back.

Of minor surprise are the smaller place bets. The 44/1 Zazzman and an excellent 15/1 placegetter in Perth constituted most of the profit so I expect those figures to change by September 2005 to something more realistic.

The major surprise was the exotics. I have never been a serious exotics punter because I believe it's hard enough to select winners much less trying for 2nd and 3rd in Trifectas and then 4th in First Fours.

With the advent of Flexibet on the NSW TAB there is a case for a smaller punter to dabble with acceptable amounts. Dabble I did and what an enormous return, though I know I need to temper the happiness with reality until more outlays come into play.

Over the next 12 weeks I will just plod along in similar fashion because there is nothing showing me I should change my modus operandi. I believe my larger bets will make a comeback but I am not sure whether the bad start can be recovered. I will seek better odds for my larger place bets as I think I might be accepting shorter odds than I should.

I most certainly will explore the exotics with small stakes and various multiples and see what eventuates from that exercise. I am quite buoyed by what the figures could have been if I had been able to bet the Melbourne Cup Trifecta.

It is worth noting that the better races to operate on for the exotics may be the really tough Group races; when you are right you are going to receive quite a collect whereas the ordinary run of the mill races with their smaller fields and less real chances may not offer good returns. I guarantee I will find out by the end of the year!

By Roman Koz