One of the people I see regularly on the racetrack is a former taxi-driver (owner/ operator) who now bets in a serious way, more or less on a professional basis.

His modus operandi is to bet two, three or four horses in any race on which he chooses to operate. He calls it his 'good old days' betting approach.

I've read all the books, studied everything about bloke Ike Eric Connolly, Pittsburgh Phil, the lot, he told me recently. "What I gleaned from it all was that to have a chance you not only have to be a damn good selector, but an even better money manager."

This chap, his name is Alan, reckons there is no such thing as a race in which there is only one real chance.

"I've seen so many good things get beaten, and I was on a lot of them myself, that you just can't go blindly along thinking you can beat the game with one pick," he said. "It's too hard. And too many blokes t it every day. It baffles me, because I wonder why you would back one horse and not two or more if the prices allow you a profit."

It was about five years ago that Alan decided to bet in multiples for the win. He had always been a careful bettor, never one to risk big amounts, but he had been a steady loser, not much mind you, but enough to make punting a frustrating business.

It was his decision to begin betting carefully on more than one horse per race that set him off on a profitable curve.

"It's been the making of me," he said. "I rarely have losing runs, my betting is always under control, and I feel satisfied when a race starts that I've done all in my power to ensure myself the best possible chance of a profit.

"It wasn't like that before. I was always on tenterhooks, wondering if my solo selection was going to win, or get knocked off in a photo. I almost cried a hundred times when my second choice would get up and roll me. Now, I don't have to worry about that. Not at all."

Alan doesn't bother drawing up his own priceline on a race. He reckons the market is pretty accurate.

"I study a race very carefully, do all the form, look at it from all sorts of angles, make my choices, and that's that," said Alan. "It might be two picks in a race, or three or four, never any more because then you're pushing things too far as far as prices go.

"My limit is around 80 per cent of the market. I'll bet to that when I'm totally confident I have the winner in my picks. That gives me a good enough profit on the race. I can invest 80 and get back 100; easy money, in most instances."

Alan, of course, is doing what has long been known as "betting to prices" in that he's backing each horse according to its price, with the aim of skimming a profit from the market.

To sum up this approach, it goes like this:

  • Bet to show an equal percentage of profit on whichever one of the selections wins;
  • Bet in such a way as to show a profit on the main choice and "save" the stake or make a slight profit should one of the other selections win.

"I prefer the direct way, an equal gain on whichever wins," Alan told me. "I really don't have top or second selections, I just pick the cries I reckon have the best prospects and bet them. Simple stuff, really, but it works for me.

"You need to pick your races. I mean, if there's a race where the favourite is raging hot, evens, odds-on, that sort of thing, I think twice because it's gobbling up most of the percentages in the betting. You need a race where it's fairly open, with the favourite around the 6/4 upward mark. 2/1 being nice.

"Then, you can frame your bets on your chosen horses. I might have the favourite at 2/1 with a bet of 33, another one at 4/1 with a bet of 20 and a third at 9/2 with a bet of 18. That means I'm up for 71, but if one of them wins I know I'm going to come out with a 29-unit profit.

"I bet in reasonably large amounts so I'm getting a day's wages in one go, with very little grief. I have to be a pretty poor tipster if I can't make it work."

At Randwick on Australia Day, I was in company with Alan as he went about his business. It was, for him. a quiet day. He told me that he felt a few races were too dominated by hotpots and he was likely to avoid them.

That's what he did in the first race in which Viscount was short in the betting at 11 /8 into 10/9. Alan felt it wasn't worth a tilt at the race, mainly because he was very undecided about the major dangers  (as it turned out, Viscount won from a 16/1 outsider who he had not rated very highly).

The second race saw him go into action. The race had only six runners and Alan was confident he could nail it with one of the two favourites. He bet 27 units on Two Time Tart at 11/4 and 44 on Stage Whisper at 5/4, a total bet of 71 units. He was right and Two Time Tart won the race with Stage Whisper 2nd. The profit was 30.25 units.

Alan dodged the third race, saying it was just too hard to call. He had figured there were five or six key chances and there was no way he could link them all and clear a profit.

"I never worry about missing a race, because, like they say, there are plenty more on the way," he said.

He narrowed the fourth race down to three chances, Raminco, Beamer and Parting Jester. He bet Raminco for 22 at 7/2, Beamer for 20 at4/1 and Parting Jester for 15 at 6/1, a total outlay of 57 units. It turned out to be a very nice win, with Raminco winning. The profit on the race was 42 units.

By this time he'd decided he'd had enough for the day. He'd hit with two scores from two races and he'd made more than enough to be happy about the day.

"I like to quit while I'm nicely in front," he told me. "Look, I've made more from those two races than the average bloke makes in two weeks hard work. It's enough for the day. I can relax now and watch the other races and make notes, and tick off some of them for the future."

Alan showed me his selections for the races he would miss: He would have won on race 5, lost on race 6, he would have dodged race 7 as being too tough, and he would have won on the last.

"Some people would say I'm mad for not kicking on but I know my limits," Alan explained. "There have been days where I've got greedy and lost out at the end; that's why I restrain myself. I don't see meetings, I just see pockets of betting action from day to day."

NEXT MONTH: A close look at multiple betting and some warnings on the traps that lie in wait for the unwary and overzealous punter!

Click here to read Part 2.
Click here to read Part 3.

By Denton Jardine