My firm advice to anyone wanting to 'play safe' with their betting is to think of the dual attack of level stakes win betting plus 'saver' quinella bets.

For the small-bet punter, such an approach calls only for modest outlays, yet offers the prospect of landing some very juicy dividends – provided the standout selection happens to win.

Quinella betting remains popular with punters. But, as we've pointed out in P.P.M. before, few bother to get their quinella betting into an orderly process. This is a great pity. Quinellas can be highly rewarding – if they are played the right way.

The approach I am outlining is for you to back your main selection for a win (and a place, if you wish) and then couple it in quinellas with the horses you consider the potential dangers. In this way, your top selection is used as a banker, which means that even if it's beaten into 2nd spot you will collect the quinella if one of the 'dangers' has won.

Of course, if your top selection wins, you also stand the chance of landing the quinella as well, which is cream on the cake. The bets are simple to place. If you're at the track, and you have to call out your bet to the teller, you merely say:

EXAMPLE: Randwick Race 5, quinella, No 4 the banker, with Nos 2-3-5-9, for $1 units.

This means you have covered the following quinella combinations: 2/4, 3/4, 4/5, 4/9. Remember that the quinella is 1st / 2nd in any order, so your banker horse doesn't have to win; it can run 2nd to any one of ' the four horses you have linked with it, and the quinella is yours.

One further idea is to link the quinellas according to price, though punters with little time on their hands at the racetrack might find this a shade too difficult to handle. But you can get yourself 1 quinella investment return' sheets, which tell you exactly how much to put on for, say, a $100 return, depending on the prices of the horses involved.

Let's suppose your banker is a 3/1 (Horse A) chance, and the four you have chosen with him for the quinellas are 5/1 (B), 8/1 (C), 10/1 (D) and 12/1 (E). Betting to get a $100 return you would stake as follows:

A-B $11
A-C $7
A-D $6
A-E $ 5

This is a total outlay of $29. Your return will generally be in the region of $100 for such price-linkup quinellas. As a rule of thumb, to get something of a fair guide to probable quinella dividends, you would do as follows:

Quinella, 3/1 with 5/1: 3/1 plus 1 equals 4 multiplied by 5 equals 20, divided by 2 equals possible return of quinella dividend $10. Another example: 8/1 with 10/1 would return around $45 for $1.

Of course, my own opinion is that the majority of bettors would settle for the straight $1 quinellas on each combination, if only for the fact that it's cheaper than betting to take out $100. But, as you would realise, you don't have to bet to take out that much. Simply scale your target figure down to, say, $25. This would call for a quarter of the $100 target bet.

Let's say you have a main choice horse at 2 / 1. You choose three horses to go with it at 4/1, 7/1 and 8/1. Betting to take out $100, you would invest $19, $12 and $10 on the three quinellas, a total of $41. But, if you didn't want to invest that much, you could easily scale down your bets to a quarter of those I have listed – to $5, $3 and $2.50, a total of $10.50. Along with, say, a $10 win bet on the banker, you'd be up for a bet of $20.50.

If all went well and your 2/1 chance won, you would get a return of $30 on the win bet, and if the 4/1 chance ran 2nd, you would get a quinella likely to return you around $25 to $30. Altogether, then, you have staked $20.50 for a potential return of between $55 and $60.

If you had restricted yourself to the $1 quinellas, your total stake would have been as follows: Win Bet $10, Quinellas $3, Total $13. Your return would have been $30 on the win bet, and with the 4/1 chance another $6 for the quinella (approx.). That's $36 in all for $13 outlaid, as against $55 to $60 for $20.50 outlaid.

The main message from this article is this: The quinellas are used as savers as a safeguard against your straightout win bet getting rolled into 2nd place (it DOES happen!!). As long as you can pick 3,4 or even 5 horses to link with the banker, you are likely to strike a quinella divvy that covers your total bet.

It's certainly something to think about. Not only does it act as insurance, it also acts as a powerful profits booster when your main selection wins. Think carefully about this win bet-quinella double-banger approach, and decide if it suits your style of betting.

If it does, why not give it a trial run (on paper, no money) and see how you go. Compare how the split fares – that is win bet on its own, against win bet and quinella savers.

Bear in mind when you are framing your quinella bets that there are certain instances where dividends are likely to be below average. The worst quinella value, according to renowned expert Don Scott, occurs in races with fewer than 10 runners, or when a longshot runs 1st or 2nd. To obtain maximum quinella value, he says, avoid small fields and include longer-priced horses only when they provide a real value overlay.

Scott made an intensive study of quinella betting and returns a couple of years ago, so he knows what he is talking about. He recommends you bet to the prices with your quinellas, instead of the flat $1 each combination method.

By Martin Dowling