In this series of articles, Denton Jardine and The Optimist chat about ideas for successful trifecta betting. As the series continues, we will also be bringing you the ideas of various experts from around the world.

The Optimist (TO): We were talking in the last issue of PPM about creative multiples. My view is that if you cannot get the field down below seven likely winners it’s too hard. True, you may miss a good payout, but, assuming you have a favourite and another favoured horse in your seven, you risk receiving a very moderate return even if you win.

Denton Jardine (DJ): Exactly. The size of a multiple always has to be considered against the likely return. If a favourite appears very likely to win and a second favourite to run second, then a massive multiple is probably a shaky way to go.

TO: I have always liked the AB/Field bet where I believe I can identify the winner in two attempts. This is because I am backing both “possible winners” to win and the trifecta is the leftover lottery piece. Betting, say, around $60 on each possible winner, a punter can also outlay AB/AB/Field for $1, usually costing between $20 and $30.

DJ: What about this idea that you should bet to prices and frame your trifecta outlays accordingly; that is, more on the more likely combin­ations and less on the unlikely ones? This has been around since the Don Scott days, though there is a school of thought now that says you should put more on the unlikely combinations!

TO: I do not bet to “prices”. I never have believed in it, as, quite frankly, I come unstuck in those situations. So, yes, I have tried it, quite a few times, and for me the result was far from encouraging. Let me put it this way: If I believe a horse has an established better chance than another, then there will only be one selection for me.

Also, I will not back a horse at, say, 10/1 unless I believe it is the best chance; other bettors might well argue that is the best value at 10/1, but that is not my position. It needs to be my best bet. It is when I can clearly separate TWO winning chances from the remainder, but not from each other, that the AB/AB/ Field comes into play.

DJ: I think that’s quite sensible, and the AB thing is a sensational way to bet, provided you have the guile and cunning to pick out the first two home, and then have the darndest luck in the world in having a longshot flop into third place.

TO: Well, that’s what trifecta betting, successful betting that is, is all about, isn’t it…getting your value chance or chances home with a wildcard filling the final spot. You win when most others lose.

DJ: What about size of the field? Do we take a great deal of notice of this aspect of the trifecta problem? Is big better, so to speak?

TO: In my opinion, it’s worth considering never taking a trifecta in fields of less than 12 runners. Why is this so? Simple, really. The dividends will be usually poor. A pay of $90 may look good as a $1 unit, but viewed as the result of a $20 outlay, odds of 7/2 or a pay of $4.50 might be seen as very poor. In fact, when you carefully think about it, the odds ARE poor, no doubt about it.

DJ: Yes, that’s a good point, but there are enough trifecta players out there who won’t mind expending $20 to get back $90. Their problem is doing it enough times to make it profitable long-term. Then there’s the mounting difficulties they’d face betting into the larger races. An AB/AB/Field bet into 20 runners will cost the punter $36.

TO: He can always use the flexi-bet service and put on as much as he likes and take a percentage of the winning return.

DJ: I understand many punters are doing that, but the maths of the ap­proach doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

TO: Some players never bet on trifecta races in which they cannot eliminate the favourite from the placings. The argument is that there is at least one false favourite in every race meeting anywhere, and that if you can identify it, the trifecta for that race will be a good one. How to find it is the trick!

DJ: This is what we were referring to earlier. Favourites can crush a trifecta dividend. It’s always something to think about. I know it’s comforting to think that you have the favourite in the bet, but is it false comfort financially?

TO: Often it will be. The hotter the favourite the heavier is the crush. This is where careful selection of bettable races is concerned. It’s a matter of being patient, waiting for your opportunity. Many punters find patience is a hard thing to acquire and I don’t blame them for that. We have wall to wall racing and the urge to have a bet, mostly for the sake of it, is overwhelming. The quiet, low-profile types are a rare breed these days.

DJ: I have reservations on racedays for those horses that come in for heavy tipping on radio and TV and in the newspapers. These are usually horses to avoid as far as value trifecta betting is concerned.

TO: Yes, you need to identify a “spruik” horse on race morning. There is always one. If you are prepared to make that trifecta your “lottery” bet for the day, leave the “hype horse” out and set up your trifecta on the basis that it won’t run a drum. Virtually every mug in the land will have it in somewhere. You leave it out. A win, if your trifecta is successful, will usually bring you a big dividend, often a VERY big one. It’s sensible in the long run to be betting against the masses.

DJ: On pages 18/19 of this issue of PPM, we’ve got together quite a few helpful trifecta betting charts, and I think it will do all punters some good to have a good look at them and maybe pick out an approach to test. The charts lay it all out for them.

TO: I’ve had a look at the charts, too, and they really are excellent aids to any trifecta punter’s armoury. The part-wheels (that’s an Americanism, isn’t it?) are particularly useful.

DJ: What about when we fancy a really dominant choice in a race. The true standout winner. Do we plunge in and do our best and how do we go about it. Any thoughts?

TO: When you deem there is a “good thing” in a race, the standout trifecta can be an effective betting means. Stand it out for FIRST with several other runners for the other placings. This sort of approach doesn’t cost too much but once you start adding extra layers the cost can build up quickly. If you stand out one selection to win and take four runners for second and third this will cost you only $12 for $1 units, or $6 (same price as a three-runner box) for half-units.

One would think that if your standout is a favourite then you should think twice, but if your chosen runners to fill the placings are at long odds then the bet can proceed OK. I would always consider switching the bet around as well. Maybe the favourite will get rolled by a nose by one of your danger runners? If it does, the value of the trifecta leaps, so why not bet the danger runners to win, and your standout to run second, and the dangers to fill third? Extra cost, sure, but you are giving yourself the chance to clean up if the standout happens to get nodded out on the line.

DJ: A ruse of mine in major races, like the Epsoms and the Melbourne Cups, is to take a standout and link it with 10 others for second and third. The bet costs $90, or $45 for half-units, but when it comes off the divvies can be huge.

TO: This a nice approach but, like you, I would advise punters using it in big field races where the pool is likely to be very large, as with the major Group 1 races like the Epsom, Doncaster, Newmarket, the Cups and so on. It worked beautifully in the Melbourne Cup last November, but only if you had the good sense to include Zazzman as a danger.

DJ: The Melbourne Cup, incidentally, was an excellent vehicle for the AB/AB/Field trifecta. With Makybe Diva and Vinnie Roe you had the first home, and a field bet would have cost only $44 and the dividend returned more than $3,140 on the NSW TAB.

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

By Denton Jardine