Isn’t it fantastic when this time of the racing year comes around?

There are so many great races on the calendar, and everybody’s got lots of opinions.

March and April ooze quality, and I don’t mean to sound parochial: this doesn’t just happen in Sydney, it’s everywhere. And when we think it’s settling quietly down, Adelaide and Brisbane throw in their lot. Top stuff.

Don’t be afraid to simply watch and study a race. Even if you’re not at the track, few things are as exciting as a group one finish as the horses thunder down the straight on a major racetrack. But one of the things that you won’t know about if you never attend the racing is the actual physical side of the whole operation. It’s worth taking it on board, because otherwise what you are watching might as well be a group of cartoon characters. Let me explain.

When you’re sitting in the grandstand watching, you hear and feel the roar of the crowd above the course commentator and you can hear (yes, you can actually hear) the pounding thunder of the horses’ feet as they strain every muscle and sinew to get to the line. If you’re close enough you can sometimes hear the jockeys; and you can certainly hear the horses snorting and blowing and going on, as they return to scale. Seeing them live, sweat and all, not only brings a new dimension to your understanding of racing, but it helps you to realise why this isn’t an infallible science. Why, in fact, things sometimes don’t go according to plan.

On the telly, the background seems quiet (except for some unfortunate broadcasts of major races which we won’t go into here) and it’s almost as though the only live person is the commentator. Get rid of that idea and you’ll add another dimension to your understanding and awareness of what this very physical sport is all about.

We got so wrapped up on another page with an investment and staking concept that we ran out of space, and it occurred to me that it’s the kind of thing that forms part of a punter’s education program. So, why wouldn’t we examine it further here? Anything that helps us to win has to be important. I genuinely think that this concept could offer that opportunity. Long-term, mind, always long-term. If you go out tomorrow and expect to win enough to set you up for life, I say good luck and give you my best wishes, but I have a horrible feeling that it probably won’t happen. Like me, you are in this game for the long haul. The very best I have ever known have endured some unfortunate runs.

It’s Murphy’s Law operating yet again: “if it can happen it will”. Sometimes you almost feel as if there is some malevolent force up there (or down there, maybe?) just waiting to undercut anybody who thinks they are too clever. With logic and the right support, a punter can make a go of it. So endeth my sermon. On we go to the point we started with. I postulated in the other article that if you can restrain yourself to allocating 20 per cent of your bank on a given day, and if you can restrain yourself to the three very best bets you can find for a program (or over more than one program), you can have a lot of fun with this idea and possibly make a considerable amount of money. To recap, then . . .

The first selection is backed for 10 per cent and if it wins the second selection is also backed for 10 per cent, with a share of the returns from the first selection to top it up. Similarly, if it wins, some of its returns will top up the 10 per cent which is allocated for the third selection.

As soon as a horse wins, remember that we return to the basic 10 per cent (plus whatever percentage is added as explained). We stay there for the remainder of the program. So if the bet is 10 per cent on the second horse and it loses, it’s still 10 per cent on the third horse. This is because the third horse is still carrying a nice top-up from the first winner. OK with that? You see, you’re saying you can get one winner, but you’re not stopping at a winner: you’re just making sure that the one winner ultimately leaves you in front. If the first winner was a pretty ordinary price, for example not much over even money, you could theoretically end up slightly behind if the next two managed to lose. But nothing is perfect, and frankly this is about as close as we can get. Your maximum outlay for that day would be $30 (6 per cent of the bank) and you’d get a high proportion of that back.

Remember then, that every time you back a winner, you establish your next bet at 10 per cent of the day’s outlay. Because of the way this is structured, hitting a winner with your second or third bet at even money means you should be in front, usually with quite a bit to spare. If the first bet loses, the next one will be 40 per cent (let’s say $40). And if it sadly goes down too, the final one will be 50 per cent. I admit that there is considerable escalation after the first bet, but we’re backing ourselves to be able to pick one in three at least. There will be days when that doesn’t happen, but when it does we will be in the happy position of being able to sometimes quite significantly increase our bets by using a proportion of our profits, but never too much (25 per cent after the first winner, and 15 per cent of the second winner’s return). Let’s have a look. We will call them A, B and C.  I know you don’t need to be told what that means.

$10 on A. It wins at $4. Return is $40.

10 per cent of the return on A ($4) is added to the stake on B in a double, and 10 per cent of the return will be added to C in a double.

5 per cent of the return on A ($2) is added to the stake on B as a treble.

B commences with a $10 win bet (because A won). We add $4 and $2 for the double and the treble, so the total investment is $16. I am going to decree that B wins and pays $8. The return is $128. Remember that $32 of this is from the double (AB) and $16 is from the treble (ABC).

Since we have had a winner, C gets the starting point of $10 to win. To that we add 15 per cent of the return on B (which is $20). We also add the double we saved from the first leg ($4). That’s $34.

You might think that we could have done better with our $2 treble as an all-up, and if you want to play around a bit you can probably come up with something which will boost the profits; but after two winners I’m not anxious to give most of my returns back. I’m the first to agree that you could go the whole hog and make a lot more, but how many times have you backed three from three?

Well, C wins in our lovely fairytale adventure, and returns $6. We pocket $204. If you recall, we put away $30 after the first win and invested the remaining 25 per cent, then we held onto $108 after the second winner. Now we add the $204 to that and we come up with $342 or a profit of $242. That’s 700 per cent profit on our maximum outlay of $30 (three lots of $10).

Of course this is a simulated example. I’m sure that with a little bit of work you will improve on it. But realistically I’ve taken a $4 winner, an $8 winner, and a $6 winner, with my main focus on coming clear if one of them gets home, improving things considerably if two get home, and making a tidy little profit for a minimal outlay if I can land all three.

What about the loss-chasing angle? We established a couple of basic rules for our criteria in the article itself. We were only going to outlay 20 per cent of our bank on any day, and consequently we were allowing for a horror run of 15 losses in a row to wipe the bank out. My own preference is to have five such banks, one behind the other; a little bit like the way a shark is set to grow new teeth when it loses the old molars. If you set yourself a level you can work with, you can have a great deal of satisfaction with a plan like this. As to loss-chasing, I don’t think that’s a realistic way of looking at this plan.

The realistic way is, to my mind, to try to set yourself up for the afternoon with the first small investment. If it is successful, not much harm is going to come your way and things could get very exciting. If it isn’t successful, your second investment will still have a portion going forward onto the third to give things a boost. Of course, if it loses too, and remember Mr Murphy, that third one has only got to come in at even money to cut even.

It’s a bit raw the way it is and I’m the first to admit it, but if it gives you some real food for thought about staking, and the way that a sensible staggering of bets can increase chances of something significant coming your way without putting you in the poor house, I believe that we’ve put in some useful time here.

It’s all up to you now. As always, you’re more than welcome to send me an email or a snail mail and outline your views.

In fact I’d love you to!

By The Optimist