How time flies. Remember this time last year we were debating the staying chances of Weekend Hussler? There were no chances, as we now know: he didn’t stay. I understand that he’s gearing up for a crack at the Cox Plate, but I also hear that all is not well in his camp, so we just must wait and see what happens.

The first thing we should do is to make ourselves a list of priorities for the new season. Let’s get straight to that without any further ado, and then we can at least be sure we are ready for the next stage of the eternal battle!


Above all other issues, I have concluded that the most significant single factor in any punter’s success or failure is going to be the handling of his bank.

The bank is the vital factor that never can be argued away. It is the essential part of any betting plan (all right, call it “investment plan” if you like, but what we are doing is having a bet).

The way you establish and handle your bank will be entirely your decision: it is one of the few areas in which nobody but yourself will have any say whatsoever.

To put this another way, you may decide on which professional selectors and which systems you will follow throughout the year, and who you bet with, and you may combine these selections with your own selections or with various other means of finding your horses, but somewhere in the equation will come the question of the money that you outlay.

Regular readers know what’s coming next. Of course, I’m going to stipulate that you must know the size of your bank in advance of the entire season. I’m not going to bore you to tears with the age-old warnings about not betting more than you can afford, or only betting with money that you can afford to lose, which is more or less the same thing. Rather, let me put it like this: if you are seriously planning to make money in the coming season then you really need to know in advance how much you are prepared to put down and what your expectations are, in terms of returns.

If you expect to win every week, then you might as well stop reading right now. As good as some professional experts are, nobody can make that guarantee. Certainly no exotic plan is going to present you with that golden egg, and there hasn’t been a system ever devised, not even by the greats of system building, that would claim it is going to present you with winning weeks every week.

However, the best of them would lay claim to presenting you with a highly successful year of betting. There is no reason why that shouldn’t be your racing financial year, stretching from August 1 to July 30.

It’s the old, old story that Brian Blackwell and I have preached for generations, and it comes down to this: The only results that matter in the long run are the long-term results.

You could have an absolute bonanza weekend and win a significant amount of money, but if your approach is flawed then it is very long odds-on that you will give it back, together with some more, over the longer period.
Getting back to that bank, you have to calculate what you would need to sustain you for a full 12 months’ activities on the punt. My suggestion is that you do this quite coldly and not under any circumstances on a Saturday morning! With a metropolitan racing meeting or four coming up in the next few hours, your level of optimism is likely to be higher than it should be rationally. That’s quite all right, because no punters should ever be heading towards meetings in the expectation of losing. They must want to win and intend to win, and frankly this immediately puts them in the minority.

Weird, isn’t it? This expectation of losing seems to be a part of the make-up of a highly significant number of punters, and consequently they are not particularly surprised when it happens.

Disappointed, yes, but they immediately turn to the next avenue for investment. Good heavens, what have I just said? Investment? No way. You know and I know that they are not investing at all, they are merely gambling. I’m not getting moral and I haven’t gone all holier-than-they are. It is a fact.

Fortunately that won’t happen to you and me, because we will know what our bank is for the full betting period. We will allocate portions of it according to our own particular choices. For example, we may allocate 40 per cent to systems, 40 per cent to professional selections, and 20 per cent to own choices.

On that basis, we might again break back the percentages according to whether preference is for win/place investment, exotic investment, a combination of each, or whatever. The next question is a double-barrelled one:

How do we decide on the bank and where do we get it?

I always suggest that after you’ve got over that first criterion, which is establishing how much you’re prepared to put out over a year, you work towards the distribution side. It’s worth reminding you at this stage that the likelihood of your losing your entire bank over the year is pretty horrible to contemplate, and it will probably never happen because you’re a sensible investor, but any money you ever invest must be put out with the understanding that it is possible you’ve just seen the last of it.

Terrible as that may be, it’s something which has to be taken into account, and so your identification of the amount of your bank to carry you over the racing year will be based on the figure that you know you could stand to lose.

It probably won’t happen. It’s extremely unlikely to happen. But it could happen and that’s what you must be mindful of. Now, having taken this into account, we can move to the next stage which is deciding on the size of the bank and how we’re going to get it. I’ve always been greatly in favour of establishing a theoretical bank over the long period. This gives the average punter much more chance of making a decent killing than recommendations of having the money in hand before you start will possibly do. Let me explain further.

If you calculate that you can outlay $100 per month, then you’re saying that you have $1,200 to use as a bank for the period 2009/2010. If you’re confident that you can outlay $250 per month, then you have a theoretical bank for the year of $3,000. Get it? You just work out your monthly likely outlay (with NO returns) and multiply it by 12.

It could be that some months are going to cost you more than others (I’d imagine that many punters invest more money in the period from September to early November, and in the period from late February to the end of April, than they do over the rest of the year – I may be wrong there but I’d like to be able to get a bet on it!)

You don’t need to have the bank in place for August; you merely have to know that it will be available over the 12 month period. It’s not a bad idea to go through the whole year and allocate on a monthly basis, but that can be quite difficult if you are dealing with a system, or three or four systems, which may have different numbers of selections each weekend.

Whether your staking plan depends on either flat staking or a steady progression, this can still interfere with the amount that you will allocate each month. So you must ensure that you will be betting within that total bank, no matter how many selections are made.

My suggestion is that you work out which months are likely to be the more “expensive” months, and allocate them a random 12 per cent each of your bank. That would allow you to have four months at 12 per cent, four at 9 per cent, and the remaining four months at 4 per cent, making a grand total of 100 per cent.

Naturally you can vary these percentages according to your own preferences and investments, but this does mean that you are forced to identify what you have probably learned are your best times of the year, and perhaps your systems’ best times too (although these things can be a little difficult to predict).

To summarise, know in advance what your total bank is likely to be, and how and when you are likely to call on its percentages.

You don’t need to have it all at the start, but you do need to know that it will be available over the year.

By The Optimist