So far in this series, I have introduced a dozen major E betting angles to consider in a well-tempered betting portfolio.

They are listed below for anyone who isn't a regular reader.

  1. Establish a bank.
  2. Remember that every bet not made is a bet not lost.
  3. Make a decision as to the tracks you will, and will not, bet at.
  4. Decide on the conditions you will, and will not, bet under.
  5. Be able to sit out a race, and even a meeting, without a bet.
  6. Join up to SKY if you cannot get to the track.
  7. Check the index in your formguide before you go through the fields.
  8. Establish access to a decent racing calendar for the immediate future races.
  9. Make your own decisions as to your betting techniques now with room for at least three adjustments.
  10. Make a firm decision as to the bank(s) you will operate.
  11. Keep meticulous records.
  12. Never start a new method with more than a basic amount or recommended starting bank.

And now, No. 13.

Always be aware of the big S.
One of the most powerful threats to your betting strategies and confidence is the Stewards' room. I am appropriately making it the thirteenth angle. There is nothing quite so sickening as when you have finally landed a big winner and the siren goes.

It has happened so many times to me over the years that I ought to be philosophical about it, and I can be - when I have lost, and my horse is the one doing the protesting against the winner!

However, when I stand to lose good money and I have gone through all the agony of getting the horse over the line in front, the tension that can build can be out of all proportion to the amount of money involved.

For example, if I have backed a 6/1 shot to win, say, $600, and I all but have the money in my pocket, I will be devastated if it is taken from me, but not destitute. Yet the feeling is so deep, so final, and so frustrating. And that's before the decision is made!

If the protest goes on and on, the pressure builds up. I know punters who disappear to a far corner and don't want to talk to anyone until the decision is made. So how can it be handled? Prozac? A visit to Dr Allcock?

Well, frankly, if Clive happened to be on track, one might be forgiven for dragging him off to hold one's hand, to see one through the dark period. After all, he's been there too!

Oh, the blessed relief when the protest is dismissed. As I said, it isn't nearly as bad if you are trying to get the protest up, as the odds are usually well and truly against you, and a reversal of the placings would be a very welcome gift from the gods.

But when your winner has its, and your, prize extracted like a rotten tooth after winning the race, well, that's harder to take. So, have it all in hand from the start. The money is not yours until the stewards say it is. Don't plan the holiday until the correct weight signal is transmitted.

I recall a friend having a huge win on the 1996 Caulfield Cup, compliments of the first selection by someone who is too modest to mention it here. This friend took out the $30,000-plus trifecta on that race, but couldn't bear even to watch the return to scale on the television at the Sydney course. He simply melted away, and only returned to the fold after the weigh-in was official and final.

When asked by a novice where he'd been, he simply mumbled about the toilet. But we knew he was living in the grey area between the finish and correct weight for the biggest win of his life, and we left him to it.

I suggest that you alert yourself to this threat, a bit like, when swimming, you accept that there can be sharks in the water, but you do everything you can to give them most of the ocean and just take up a little bit that they probably won't visit. If they come around, you leave the water when told by the lifesavers, curse that your afternoon has been spoilt, but you keep your legs and arms (and your head).

There will be times when all your fun is spoilt by the stewards, but you have to accept that now, not when it happens. Like all Murphy's Laws, it will happen, because it can. And when it does, it can break your heart and, worse still, your confidence. So being ready in advance for the possibility is your only defence.

Accept the risks.
I owe this to Mr K D Roth of Hassall Grove, 2761. Mr Roth wrote to me in January, mentioning last month's shark metaphor which, encouraged, I have extended above (give a man an inch, and ... !). He asked why bother at all to try to win, when the chances can be assessed, even for favourite backers, as daunting.

I said in another part of the February PPM that if you back favourites, you can still have a run of 150 losing bets in any thousand bets. But the other side of that equation was that one might then expect 350 winners in the following 850 to get the situation back to normal. One might even decide to bet up, say, to a point-and-a-half ' to compensate for the terrible run.

It's true that a losing run of 150 might be followed by another run of 150 cuts, as soon as a winner is struck, because the sample we are talking about is in the hundreds of thousands.

Mr Roth, I called into a coffee bar at Coffs Harbour last year, where they offered various brews. Each one had a title: The Stimulator, etc., etc. And there was one that offered skim milk and decaffeinated coffee. Its title was "Why Bother?".

I guess my point (and theirs) is that you either accept the risks or you opt for some other entertainment and investment methodology. Like you, I had a rotten 1998, with a whole lot of seconds. In fact, I could have written your letter to a large extent. When you told me of that run of second placings, I felt very strongly for you.

And what's the strategy? Just this: Acknowledge from the very start that there will be very bad periods. If you can't adjust to that, if you know you won't stay the distance then, yes, get out. It's no disgrace, rather the reverse. But first, consider Strategy 15.

Be prepared to take advice, especially from real experts.
I'm leaving myself out of that, but if you look no further than, say, the insight and wisdom offered by our regular team of contributors, along with Clive's specifics and Statsman's regular insertions of brilliance, you have a hell of a lot of scope in one six-dollar magazine.

Allocate something in your bank for the right information. What you don't want to commit yourself to is equally as important.

Be strong when everyone else is backing your horse.
Strong, meaning do not back it! There is no chance on earth that it will be at fair odds. No chance you are getting "value".

The idiot that tells you the tote is better value than the bookies, when the bookies are at 6/4 and the tote is at $2.90, and the correct price ought to be around 3/1 or 7/2, has no more idea of racetrack value than a whistling canary has.

The facts are that value does not apply to any bet made at less than an appropriate price, regardless of whether one price on offer is more attractive than another. $2.90 for a 3/1 chance is awful value, however you want to look at it, and it's what you'll get when you follow the crowd on race morning.

If your mathematics is so bad that what we talk about in PPM seems like magic, open your phone book and check out the WEA.

If that isn't available, try any coaching college that might be able to take you through the basics. Without any understanding of maths, you are at a tremendous disadvantage these days (or any other days, I suppose).

Not having some maths isn't something to be at all ashamed of, but the ability to add, subtract, divide and multiply accurately, and to be able to figure the percentages, is such an advantage once you have it that you don't think about it.

However, once I did stop to think about it. I realised how lost I would be if I didn't know, for example, that 11 x 11 = 121, without thinking about it. If you regard that as much too hard, then never do any betting without a calculator at hand. And learn how to use it. Half an hour with someone who knows can create a whole new betting world for you.

Never bet on a horse you have never heard of before.
I don't care what it has to recommend it. Forget it.

Never bet on a horse at its first start, unless you have a feeling about it and it is enormous odds.
At 5/1, let it go. At 50/1, well, if you must, sure, have a go, but maybe once every five years.

There are ways of turning this in your favour, if you stick to a really good stable. The garbage you hear about a stable "really firing" is just that: garbage. No horse runs any faster because it is in a "hot" stable.

Bet top stables, because they are the best, often have their horses ready early, especially their two-year-olds.

I have also experienced the situation where a three-year-old races for the first time for, say, Lee Freedman. It can be a proposition, but it is highly unlikely that we have not heard of it!

Next month we'll look at the riders and what we can decide in advance about them, along with six other strategies which will complete this series.

Click here to read Part 4.
Click here to read Part 1.
Click here to read Part 2.

By The Optimist