Last month, we went through some of the more depressing ways of losing your money. This month I'd like to take a more optimistic view and to consider some ways of doing our very level best not to let this happen.

In the first place, I have always maintained that most of our winnings are done on a very few days in the year. This is not to say that we cannot enjoy the same winnings on the majority of days, but I mean that if you tally up your winnings for the year, you will find that anything up to 80 per cent of those winnings will come on half a dozen good days.

They are the days when the $20 winner gets up, or when you hit that $1,000 trifecta. You have to invest if you are going to make any sort of money at all, and with any form of investment comes an element of risk. What we need to do is exactly what a stockbroker or any other investor does, and that is to try to swing the odds as much as possible in our own favour.

This odds swing will vary according to the obvious risk. To get that $1000 trifecta, the likelihood is that you are either betting a multiple or the gods have been kind to you. The absolute truth is that most people did not agree with you about the way this trifecta would fall. Otherwise it would not have been 1000/1. This brings me to my first "absolute" in racing: Respect public opinion. Public opinion is, after all, what makes racing. Bookmakers will often try to set markets, and particularly with the pre-post markets they can more or less do what they like. If they don't want to lay a horse, then they simply will put a price that they believe is lower than anybody will accept.

This was particularly evident a few weeks back in the case of Makybe Diva. Two of the biggest betting organisations in Australia were offering what were utterly ridiculous odds about the great mare's chances of winning either the Cox Plate or the Melbourne Cup. One of them was even offering 5/2 about her winning either! At time of writing, that is a real possibility but it's also a stupid bet. I don't know if anybody took it, but seven weeks ahead of either event being run it was not a very smart investment. Of course this may not be your opinion in the second week of November!

Opinion is not everything in racing, but it is the most important single thing in winning money. So my first specific offering in my "win money" month is for you to never go against your own opinion provided it is based on solid racing theory and practice.

You have to have a plan. Well, you actually have to have half a dozen decent plans. I suppose we could count those as six ways of making money. While they all will not win every month, they are not unlike having a share portfolio. Anybody who knows anything about the sharemarket knows that some go up and some go down, but that, longterm, the best ones go. in the right direction. Maybe they all don't, but the majority do. What they talk about in this area is the "blue chip" market: these are, to use another metaphor, the nearest thing to gilt-edged shares that we can get. Because of this, the dividends can frequently be lower than they are on the more risky conveyances. You have far greater expectations of making a profit, everybody knows this, most people agree with you, so the market is tighter.

Isn't that exactly like a horse race? You expect the favourite to win because he is the favourite. Sometimes that's not a good enough reason. When your opinion kicks in, you can (at least in some parts of the civilised world) support the animal to either win or lose. If somebody else wants to back him to win at 3/1, and you think he is nowhere near a three to one chance, then perhaps you will be very comfortable in taking that bet. That's exactly what a betting exchange is all about. It's a free market in which buyers and sellers move according to their opinions of the racing.

Anyway, even if you are in an un-enlightened part of the world and those who know what's best for you don't want you to use betting exchanges, you still have the option: you can not bet. It can be difficult, especially when you sort of feel the horse will probably win anyway, but I'm telling you right now that you will make more money by steering away from anything that your opinion tells you is not good value.

And there is that word again. Value. Value is in the heart and eyes of the beholder. Value means different things to different people in terms of numbers. A few weeks back, I declared Lad Of The Manor a magnificent bet at $3.25 if I could find it, and an accommodating bookmaker managed to make my day.

When Makybe Diva came at the lad over the final hundred metres, I must admit to feeling less than totally happy. Of course I won by a short half head and I was very pleased with myself for getting everything right: I didn't expect to win by a great distance, but I thought there would be more than a horse's nostril involved.

Nonetheless, the value at the odds of 9 / 4 was to my mind fantastic. Offered similar odds over 2000 metres, I would be very reluctant. What odds would I think were decent? That's another story, but for our purposes all we have to take on board is that on that day, on that track, with those horses, at those odds, I expected to make money.

The next piece of advice I offer to you is never, ever bet more than you can afford. Establish your bank and stick within its limitations. It will grow. Further to this, we come quickly to the next piece of advice: identify the percentage of the bank which you regard as maximum outlay for any one day. I've often said that you can make exceptions to anything regular in this regard where the Melbourne Cup is concerned, because everybody has to have a day out. So say for argument's sake, that you allocate $5,000 for your year's activities. That translates at about $100 a week. If you bet over a calendar year, and by the time of the Melbourne Cup you have some idea of how your year is going. If it is in front, I can't see much wrong with your allocating an extra hundred dollars to the special day. And anyway, if it is behind, because there is so much mug money invested on Melbourne Cup Day, I have always believed that those of us who study the racing are entitled to go after it.

So making money on Melbourne Cup Day should be an objective. I once knew a fellow who was very keen on racing, a keen Systems player, someone you might almost call semi-professional; and ' the same fellow never had a bet on the Melbourne Cup. I don't mean "'didn't" have a bet, I mean he never, ever had a bet on the Melbourne Cup. On the one hand, I could see his argument that a 24 horse handicap was too big a challenge, but on the other hand, with the enormous overlays on the ridiculous TAB betting, this is a race that begs people like you and me to have a shot at.

One of our writers (I think it was Martin Dowling) spoke sometime back of the virtues of place betting in this race. This is my next way of making money. You don't have to go for a 50 / 1 chance. I can guarantee you right now that there will be five or six of the 24 runners with the most amazing place overlays. This simply does not happen in any other horse race in Australia. You have to pick your mark, and be flexible, but there is every likelihood that you will pick up a horse which is listed to win at (say) $15, and it is anything up to $9 for the place. When you take into account that 14/1 means horses well in the Melbourne Cup market, getting 8 / 1 about its chances of filling a place can be phenomenal. But again, this will depend on your own viewpoint. All I'm saying is that it is a way of making money.

The stop at a winner plan has been around for a long time. Many people swear by it. I think it is the stupidest idea in all of racing. Well, one of the stupidest anyway. I have to admit that I've heard a few. But this one says that if you crack a winner, you stop, and then of course you watch the other three horses you chose all romp in. It's nuts. However, I do like another twist to this plan on days when you are relatively uncertain. I know a few punters who are prepared to wait all day until the last couple of races in Sydney and Melbourne. The TAB pools are still huge and they work on the principle that there are now a lot of people chasing money because they are losing. So these punters actually make money on a regular basis by only focusing on those last two events in each of the two capital cities.

A recent example of this was a fellow I know who supported the very fast I'm A Tenor at Rosehill. He thought that the whole day was difficult but by the ninth race he was pretty sure (and this is another clue) that any fast horse hugging the rails would be difficult to run down. He got his odds and he watched his inside-drawn selection win in cakewalk, starting moderately, slipping through on the rails to the lead, and simply going away in the straight. It isn't always that easy, but the odds were right and he was ready for a bet.

Twenty ways? Oh, I don't know, but they are good ways aren't they?

Click here to read Part 1.

By The Optimist