So, you have a list of horses to follow and you are racking your brains for a staking plan to apply. What do you do to inject your betting with an air of excitement and the chance to land some windfall returns?

Much depends on how much betting money you have available. Too many punters don't even set up a bank; they simply put their hand in their pocket and drag out the cash for the next bet, with no thought to how much or where the next dollar is coming from.

Like anything in life, it's better to have a plan. It's better to be organised. That way, you know where you are coming from and, more importantly, where you are going.

I've drawn up a number of ideas I feel will give you at least one staking plan that you can apply to any list of horses to follow, or even to your usual day-to-day betting activity.

Take the time to study each of them, consider your finances, consider your psychological approach to betting, and then decide which staking approach is best suited to what you want to achieve from your betting.

It's important that you make the choice carefully Never rush into a staking plan without first considering what it may come up against and its capability of coping with the problem(s). If you are prone to long losing runs, then take this into account when deciding how to bet.

If your horses to follow are at short prices, then you have to consider this factor. The same with the opposite end of the odds yardstick, longshots.

It's one thing to provide a percentage of winners and another to get together a hard and fast formula of staking. With all staking plans, a lot will depend on how the winners actually fall in a sequence.

Commonsense, though, will help you to overcome the inevitable traps.


  1. All bets are straight-out for the win.
  2. Whatever initial amount is bet should be increased by the same amount for three starts only. For example: 1 point bet on the first start. If it loses, then 2 points on the second start. If it loses, then 3 points on the third start. If it loses, the horse is dropped from the list.
  3. If the horse wins within the allotted three starts, it is then dropped from the list.
  4. Allow each horse 49 days (seven weeks) in the list. A horse is dropped after this period, even if it hasn't had its full quota of three starts.


This takes a different approach to the previous plan in that you have a 3-unit bet on the horse's first start, 2 units on its second start and I unit on its third start. Except for this aspect, the rules are the same as for the Rising Hit Plan.

The thinking behind the Dropdown Plan is that a horse placed on a list of horses to follow is more likely to win quickly than a bit later. So, by putting the 3 points bet on the first time, the bettor takes advantage of this likelihood.

You can, of course, operate both plans at the same time.


There can surely be no punter around who hasn't complained at some stage that he backs so many placegetters that he is sick of it ... because he has bet them all for the win!

Any list of horses to follow is inevitably going to have a high ratio of placegetters to winners.

Therefore, a lot of punters will want to bet eachway. The plan I have drawn up provides for such betting and will be of interest to anyone who likes to 'play safe' by steering clear of straightout win bets and incorporating the place element into their bets.

  1. Decide on a betting unit. I'll assume you bet in 1 point units.
  2. Bet 1 point eachway at the horse's first start. If a loser, bet 2.5 points eachway at the horse's second start. If a loser again, then the third bet is 4.5 points eachway.
  3. If a horse is placed, do not increase your stake when it next starts but bet the same amount as previously.

With this approach, the most you can lose on a horse is 16 points but to do this the animal would need to run out of a place three times! Remember, that if the horse wins, it is then dropped. If it runs 2nd or 3rd, you continue betting if it happens on the first or second starts. The horse is automatically dropped after three starts, or if it does not complete its three starts within 49 days.


If you have a long-term splendid run of success with your list of horses to follow, and I am assuming you are not following scores and scores of them (!), the well-known 10 Per Cent Plan might be worth seriously considering.

I know it has its detractors but it is a neat, orderly way to bet. It offers what its proponents say is an easy progression. You decide what level of 'bank' to operate on and you simply bet 10 per cent of whatever the bank happens to be. The same process can be applied at a lower level, say 3 per cent or 5 per cent of the bank, which is certainly a more cautious approach.

With a 3 per cent bet on your bank, if you had a bank of, say, $300, then your first bet is going to be $9. If the bank goes up, your bet rises automatically, though still at 3 per cent, of course.

Reverting to the 10 per cent approach: if you start with $100, say, your first bet is $10. If it loses, the bank drops to $90 and your next bet is $9, and so on. If the bank drops, your bet drops automatically.

Remember, too, that you are only following each horse for three starts at the most, so with the 10 per cent plan your maximum loss on a horse will be $10, $9 and $8, equalling $27.

If the first two starts are losses, your final $8 bet will return you a profit from about 5/2 upwards on a winning race start.

Another way of betting your list of horses is to apply some form principles to them each time they run (for the maximum of three starts). This has been used in conjunction with trainer plays but I think it can do well with a good list of horses to follow.


  1. Use a base 1-point bet on the horse at each start.
  2. Raise the bet to 2 points if the horse was placed (2nd, 3rd) at its last start.
  3. Bet 3 points if the horse is a last-start winner (this would apply only at the horse's first start for you).
  4. Bet 4 points if the horse won its last two starts (again, this would apply only at the horse's first start for you).
  5. Add 2 points to the bet if the horse is pre-race favourite or second favourite.

With Rules 3 and 4, you will understand that the horse can only be bet with these figures at its first start for you, because any horse in the list is automatically dropped after a win. 

Let's say you had a horse to follow who had run 3rd last start and was second favourite for the current race. This means you would bet 1 point for the normal bet, an extra point for its last-start placing, and another 2 points because of its position in the betting. This is a total of 4 points to be bet on this runner.

If the horse had been unplaced last start and was not fav or second fav, it would be bet for just 1 point. If the horse, say, had won its last two starts and was current race fav (or second fav), the bet would be 1 point for the normal bet, another 3 points under Rule 4, and another 2 points under Rule 5. This would be a total bet on this runner of 6 points.

With this approach, you are putting on the most money when the selection figures as a likely winner. When it has less chance, the bet is cut right back to the normal 1 point. I think this approach will work nicely for those punters who have a strong set of horses to follow, with a high proportion ending up being heavily fancied.

For the more adventurous players, an approach based on the bigger the price, the bigger the bet may well seem alluring. I mention it for your examination and leave it to you to decide what to do.

Once again, it is formulated on the premise that you have a list of horses to follow and that each is given a maximum of three tries before being dropped, or a maximum of 49 days to have those three starts. Each horse is automatically dropped after a win. 

The following Price and Bet Chart will allow you to bet the selections with the onus on longer-priced runners to  perform well carrying the largest bets.

10/1 plus8910
9/1 7 8 9
8/1 6 7 8
7/1 5 6 7
6/1 4 5 6
5/1 3 5 7
4/1 3 4 6
3/1 2 3 4
2/1 12 3
If a horse, say, has three runs for you and is at 10/1, 6/1 and 5/1, the bets would be 8 points on the first start, 5 points on the second start and 7 points on the third start, a total of 20 points.

By the third start, the 7-unit bet at 5/1 would provide for a return of 40 units, and give you a 100 per cent profit on total outlay on the three races.

It won't always work out to your advantage, though. If the horse fails at the first two starts, you are losing 13 units. The horse then may be only 2/1 at its third start, which calls for a bet of only 3 units. You can recoup only 6 units of your losses.

In these instances, you may decide the bet is not worth it, and simply refrain from betting. A rule could be employed whereby if you cannot make an overall profit from the third bet, then the bet is dropped altogether and the horse dropped.

Depending on how your horses perform, this could be the best or the worst of the plans I have listed here. Try it out on paper initially just to see which way things seem to be going.

Finally, consider the tried and proven 6-Point and 10-Point Divisor Plans. We have published them before in PPM, and I do not have space to delve into them deeply again. Suffice to say, they are an excellent vehicle and they will provide you with a profit, provided your winners gain the target amount you have set.

You can, as many will, simply stick to level stakes. There is nothing at all wrong with this approach. In fact, many  professionals swear by it and have nothing to do with anything else.

Their thinking is that if you can't make a profit at level stakes, then nothing will help you. This isn't exactly true but it has now gone into folklore and I haven't the time or space in this article to go into further detail on the countering argument.

The essential point with level stakes is that it makes everyone feel comfortable. There are no decisions to make, no risks to take. In my book, that makes for a dull slide to oblivion. Get 10 units behind at level stakes and you are going to need a big hit to regain losses and put your nose in front.

I would rather exercise some element of risk and use a creative staking plan with my betting, for better or worse. If I lose, I at least will have the pleasure of knowing that I went down with sword flailing, and not with sword in its sheath.

Which of the plans I have presented is my favourite? Well. I rather like The Dropdown Plan. This gives you the chance to hit early with a good win, and if your list of horses to follow contains what it should - fit and ready horses primed to score - then you will get many first-up collects with the big-unit bets.

I hope to write more on this subject of money management in future issues of PPM. I will see how my own horses to follow go in the months ahead, using the various plans, and report back. I'm sure it will make for a most interesting feature article.

By Mark Merrick