"Don't spray 'em, mate," might well be the advice of a seasoned bettor to a raw novice entering the betting fray for the first time. And what might he mean by that? Simple - the pro is telling the rookie not to select his bets haphazardly and not to bet them that way.

A systematic approach is always the best when selecting, whether you are using a mechanical system or are just studying all the pros and cons of form. A punter is faced with a rather simple task when all is said and done, because betting is nothing more than a simple act of selecting and supporting an opinion with money.

Placing the bet itself is uncomplicated. You fill in a ticket, you phone through a bet to the TAB or a bookmaker, or you go on-course and bet with bookies or the tote machine.

It is reaching that stage of actually placing the bet that is the testing ground - the cutting edge, so to speak - of the whole racing game. How you do it is crucial to your long-term financial survival.

The following are FIVE principles of survival you should think very carefully about as you proceed with your betting selection activities.

This is the major consideration in selection, with other factors acting as what are commonly known as 'modification agents'. Form is the indisputable record of performance of each horse. It is a clear and concise record of what the horse has achieved in its racing lifetime. It is the sole means available to the punter to reliably assess and compare ability.

This is the second major principle and is always going to exert a big influence on form. A punter has to discover when a horse is at peak racing form and the most reliable evidence can be indicated by a horse's most recent performance, say within the previous 7 to 14 days. Fitness is a balancing factor.

The third principle of the formula, Class can impose a powerful modifying influence on selection. Class defines the quality of competition that exists between all runners in a race. There are basic tenets to follow in regard to Class:

(a) A horse rising in Class has to improve on its known ability and form.

(b) A horse racing in the same Class has to reproduce form equal to what it has done before.

(c) A horse dropping in Class has merely to reproduce its normal level of ability as shown in a higher Class to have a winning chance.

These involve a number of important factors, like Distance, Going, Track, Barrier Draw, Jockey, Weight. They are important as a balancing mechanism when used in conjunction with other factors.

These are the imponderables of what racing is all about. Changes which involve blinkers, or a trainer's performance record, a stable's current form, minor mishaps to a horse which only the stable knows about, a horse's breeding, its ownership - and, most importantly, the R-I Factor or 'Race Intention'. This latter is most important but is the big secret of every runner - IS THE HORSE TRYING? When you assess form, this is the
one truly vital factor you will never know for sure.

Once you have chosen the right way to select your bets, how do you bet them? In other areas of the magazine this issue we canvass this problem and to add to those ideas I offer the following staking plans. Firstly, a word of warning: Before embarking on any staking plan, be sure that your selection method is sound and that it can stand the test of long-term level stakes action.

Then try out any new staking plan to determine if it can, in fact, IMPROVE the level stakes percentage profit.

This method attempts to make full use of any winnings by immediately reinvesting them to, hopefully, produce further profit. The bank, to commence, is divided by 20. After every losing bet this divisor is reduced by 1 - 19, 18, 17, 16, etc. The profit from winnings is added to the bank which is then divided straightaway to raise the level of the remaining bets.

Whenever the bank is greater than its highest starting point, the divisor always returns to 20, no matter at what point it was on the descending scale prior to the bank going into profit. You then assume that your starting bank is THE NEW TOTAL.

When a bet is struck but the profit does not take the bank past its original starting point, the same divisor is repeated. Following that, the divisor would be lowered by 1 unit if the next bet lost, or remain the same if it won and the profit did not carry the bank past its previous highest point.

Lets look at some examples.

If the first bet is a winner ( say 2 units profit):

2 units + Bank 20 units = 22 units.
22 units divided by 20 (bets) = 1 . 1 units.

If the first bet was a loser and the second bet a winner (say 2 units profit):

2 units + (remaining bank) 19 units = 21 units.
21 units divided by 20 = 1.05 units.

If. say. the first 4 bets lose and the 5th bet is a winner, the divisors, in turn would be 20. 19, 18, 17 for bets of 1, 1, 1, 1. You would have lost 4 units, so both your divisor and your bank would be 16. The next bet would be 1 unit (16 divided by 16) . If it won at say 10/1, you would show 6 units profit on the series, taking your bank to 22 units, so that the divisor would again become 20 and the bank 22.

So, your next bet would be 22 divided by 20 = 1.1 units. If it loses the next bet is 20.9 divided by 19 = 1.1 again.

The key to this staking plan is that every time you break back through your previous highest bank-level, your stake increases proportionately.

This method allows the eachway punter to gradually increase his attack.

First bet is 1 unit eachway ( a unit can be any sum you like from $1 upwards). After a loser, increase the bet by a further half-unit eachway. After a PLACED horse, repeat the previous bet. After a winner, drop back a half-unit. When the stake is 3 units eachway or higher, drop back one unit after a winner.

This allows you to sensibly back your various selections throughout the day, according to their pre-post prices, or according to the 'true value' prices you have assessed. Follow this table for your bet outlays:


Make sure the prices of your selections, combined, give you the chance of a profit should only one of them win.

This is a good staking approach for punters who like to have an insurance factor. With this method, the place part of the bet acts as the insurance against total loss.

Initial bet is 1 unit win, 2 units place.

If a placegetter (2nd/3rd) is backed bet is always repeated next time.
1 win/3 placeRepeat
1 win/3 placeRepeat
2 win/5 place1 win/3 place
2 win/6 place1 win/3 place
3 win/12 place2 win/5 place
4 win/16 place2 win/6 place
4 win/20 place3 win/12 place
5 win/15 place4 win/16 place
5 win/20 place4 win/20 place
6 win/20 place5 win/20 place
When you are showing a profit at any stage, start a new series of bets.

This is a good method for backing two strongly-fancied horses. You wait for races in which the top 2 fancied runners are both at less than 3/1. You then back them both using the following formula of adding 1 to their prices.

EXAMPLE: A is 2/1 and B is 5/2.

A = 2 + 1 equals 3
B = 2.5 + 1 equals 3.5.

The bets are then reversed. A is bet for 3.5 units, B is bet for 3 units, a total of 6.5 units. Should A or B win your total return is 10.5 units, or a profit of 4 units on your outlay. That's a percentage profit of some 61 per cent.

In the above article we have talked about how to select your bets and proposed 5 methods you
can consider to bet them. Now bear in mind the following valuable advice:

  • Try to pick the right races on which to bet. Don't try to beat the card.
  • Have patience learn when to bet and when to watch,
  • Give serious consideration to leading jockeys and trainers especially in major races. If it's a toss-up between two horses then settle for the one with more 'riding and training' firepower.
  • When in real doubt, don't bother. Wait for another race.
  • Forget about horses at long odds-on. You are risking a lot to win a little. Treat 4/5 as the shortest price you'll accept.
  • Don't bet on favourites just because they are favourites. We've said this before and it bears repeating. Seven out of 10 favourites lose.
  • Always seek out value. It means the difference between winning and losing.

By Richard Hartley Jnr