While the prospect of betting more than one horse in a race can look financially edifying, the reality is that it takes a rare astuteness to be able to make it pay, long term.

It's been stated before in PPM that multiple betting, in whichever form it's used, can be a useful and profitable way to go, but it's full of traps for the unwary.

Small-bet punters need to be very careful in their selection of races. Patience is the key word. You must do the form thoroughly and NEVER operate unless you are sure you have got the number of chances fined down correctly.

Now, if your judgement is correct (fingers crossed) enough times, then you'll never suffer a long losing run as a multiple bettor, which is the beauty of the whole thing, really. At the same time, though, you need to have chosen winners at the right prices to make it pay financially.

I can't stress enough that you need to have a top-class selection method to use in conjunction with any multiple betting approach. Even after the selections are made, you need to be able to bet them over the course of a year and come out with a profit. Difficult? Sure. Impossible? Not necessarily.

My first piece of advice is that you decide on a minimum profit to accept per race. Let's say you have decided to bet two or three horses per race with a 100 target in mind. Okay, you have the basics set.

Now you must decide which races to attack. Those races dominated by short-priced favourites should be treated with some caution. A horse at evens is taking up 50 per cent of the market.

You need to be aware of the, odds' you are taking by backing, say, three horses in a race at $1 each If you have your three at 3/1, 7/2 and 9/1, the respective odds are 3/1 ON, 2/1 ON and 7/3 AGAINST.

Doesn't look quite so attractive put in those terms, does it? That 9/1 chance is actually costing you $3 to back, so if it wins you will get back $10 ($1 plus 9) but you've actually bet $3 because of your $1 bets on the other two horses.

You've won $7 for your $3 so the odds are actually 7/3, which is 2.33 to 1.

If you have, say, two favourites, both at 3/1, and you want to back both of them, the actual odds are evens. The bet is going to cost you $2, and you can only get one winner. Thus, the return is going to be $4 ($1 plus $3), which works out at evens on your investment of $2.

If you back, say, three runners each at 8/1, it really means you are taking 2/1 against any of the three winning. Your outlay is $1 on each, the maximum return is $9. Therefore, your bet has been $3 for a return of $9, which is odds of 2/1.

Despite the  somewhat I disconcerting analysis of odds, it has to be said that a sensible punter, thoroughly versed in the form, can strike a big average of winners by betting two or more runners per race.

The key is to pick the RIGHT races and the RIGHT horses at the RIGHT prices. This is something that I wrote about last month when detailing the raceday approach of Alan, an acquaintance who bets the multiples in Sydney. He uses a lot of intuition in picking his bets and deciding when enough is enough. I guess that this latter factor is an all-important one. How many of us have gone on and bet too long after hitting a big profit early in the day?

I know only too well the feeling and I suspect that 99 out of 100 punters have experienced it as well knowing when to call a halt is important.

Getting back to the basics of multiple betting: Most punters who do it will not just invest level stakes on each selection. They will 'grade' their bets according to the percentages on offer.

Example: You select three horses.

A is at 5/2, B is 8/1 and C is 10/1.

Referring to the table of percentages, we see that 5/2 equals 28.6, 8/1 equals 11.1 while 10/1 equals 9.1. Add these together. They come to 48.8. If you bet in these amounts and any one of the selections wins, you are going to double your money.

Basically, you are accepting even money about any of the three winning the race. If A wins, assuming you bet exactly 28 ' 6 (okay, you won't, but let's just use it to flesh out the example), the return will be 100.1 units.

If B wins, your return is 99.9 units.

and if C wins, the return is 100.1 units.

Remember, though, that it's cost you 48.8 units to get the 100. You can see from this example that you would not want too many losing races, otherwise your losses would mount up rather horrendously.

This is why it's always stressed by multiple betting professionals that 'selection' is of paramount importance. Get that wrong and you'll be heading into trouble.

You can, of course, ignore the percentage-style betting and merely play all the selections at level stakes. Whether you can make a long-term profit is the question you must ask yourself.

Another angle, in betting the percentages, is to back only those runners who are at overlay prices. You can do this if you draw up your own market on a race, or use a commercial service to price each horse.

Let's assume you have priced your three selections at 2/1, 4/1 and 9/2. You've put a lot of work into the selections and the pricing, and so off you go to the track. You will be seeking better prices than you have drawn up and you'll be turning down any prices that are too far under your assessed prices.

Okay, we have Horse A priced at 2/1, Horse B at 4/1 and Horse C at 9/2. You are able to secure 3/1 about Horse A. Now, you are going to bet Horse A as a 2/1 chance, which is your assessment of its 'true' odds, so the bet will be $33.

You are, say, able to get 6/1 about Horse B, which you have assessed as a 4/1 chance. The bet, using 4/1 as the true odds, is 20 units. Finally, we come to Horse C but it is only 71 available at 6/4. There is no way you can take that price.

You are, then, left with two bets totalling $53. However, that outlay is based on the selections at your odds. Should either win, you are going to secure a nice overlay return.

If Horse A wins, the price secured is 3/1, so you have $33 on that price, for a return of $132. You have made a profit of $79 on your total bet of $53.

If, say, Horse B had won, you would have had your $20 riding on it at 6/1 for a return of $140. The profit on the $53 outlaid is $87.

If your assessed prices work out to be reliable, you would be well on the road to success, provided, of course, that as well as getting the prices right you were also picking winners!

Sometimes you can secure huge overlays if your pricing and selection approach is spot-on. Just recently, the Practical Punting Daily Club's ImpactPro 2001 service priced just one race at Bendigo. The selection, Another Sport, was priced at 3/1 and the horse won the race at 11/1. The only other horse priced for the race was the runner-up at 9/2. Both horses were backed for a total bet of $25 and $18 ($43) and the return was $300, a profit of $257.

A classic example of terrific, professional pricing and the ultimate sort of overlay bet, where the selection is despised in the betting and yet runs up to the assessment and wins at big odds.

NEXT MONTH: We'll look at another form of multiple betting, 'saving' on some runners and going big on the main selection. We'll also bring you a selection plan to help you adopt this approach.

Click here to read Part 3.
Click here to read Part 1.


By Denton Jardine