Boldness be my friend. Someone used this, as I recall, as the title of a novel about the second world war. It aptly sums up what an average punter needs to have as a friend if he has any chance at all of beating the races.

This particularly applies to staking, or money management. You have to inject an element of boldness into your betting, or face the prospect of never getting ahead, and slowly slipping behind.

A friend of mine, who bets as a professional for six months of each year, says he would rather go down with a roar than a whimper, which is why he refuses to shirk putting the big chips down when the occasion demands.

So, in two words, let's sum up the surest approach to staking: BE BOLD. Now, having said that, we come to the question of you, the punter, becoming rich. Seriously rich. It can be done - but you need skill as well as a touch of daring.

Now, you don't need the help of an accountant to know that success in betting depends on securing value and obtainable prices. This is really tough. Even if you're at the track there's no guarantee you are going to be able to secure the best prices. We often see fluctuations for a horse of 2/1-3/1-7/4. That means it opened at 2/1, blew to a best price of 3/1 and then firmed to 7/4.

But how many punters actually got the 3/1? Most would have come in when the horse began to firm from 3/1 and would have had to be satisfied with 5/2, 9/4, 2/1 or even the closing quote of 7/4,

Off-course, the punter is in the lap of the gods, so to speak. He has no control over what price is available on the tote. But even having said this, we must advise that price is paramount - value price, that is.

Then we come to intrinsic or genuine value. It's better value for a punter to bet a GOOD horse at 6/4 than to bet an INFERIOR horse at the same odds. Think carefully, then, about the true quality of the horses you are backing.

Isn't it better to have $100 on a 6/4 chance in a TOP-CLASS field, than to bet the same money on a 6/4 chance in a WEAK, LOWER GRADE field? It sure is!

Then we come to the issue of NOT BETTING. Knowing when not to bet is just as important as knowing when to bet. You do not bet when you can't secure value when you have the slightest doubt about the worth of your bet.

Too many punters 'die' financially because they overbet on horses 'sold' to them by bookies at false value. It is a recipe for disaster. So pick and choose your bets. For goodness sake, exercise restraint.

And what about limits on the amount you bet? How do you bet - level stakes, percentage of bank, progression? There are all sorts of theories abounding. To play safe, bet level stakes. To be more adventurous, try other staking ideas. Inject some risk into proceedings.

If necessary, impose your own stake limits. On TOP-CLASS races, never take less than 2/1, in races with more than, say, 14 runners, don't accept less than around 3/1. On MODERATE class races (say Welters, Mares), impose a price limit of 5/2, and in the bigger fields don't accept less than, say, 7/2.

In the poorer-class races, never take less than 4/1 and with the bigger fields put in a limit of at least 9/2. These are safety first rules, but they still will allow you to be bold if required.

They will definitely prevent you making silly bets on horses that just aren't true value. And it's all those silly bets in a season that cause most punters to bleed from their pockets.

With top-class horses, you can even introduce a policy of higher value bets. Group One races, for example, can be considered very good betting races and you might like to multiply your usual stake by 2 or even 3. I would recommend this approach if your selection is at a very good price way above its estimated true value.

Group 2 or 3 races can be multiplied by, say, 1.5 or up to 2 times your usual bet. Good Open Handicap races can be doubled. Other races you stick to a normal bet.

Everything I am saying in this article is, of course, in IDEAS form for you to weigh up, to consider carefully to evaluate whether they suit your style of betting. Not all punters are willing to put in the effort needed to get their staking into line so that they can become seriously rich.

How much emphasis can I place on the overlay component of your betting? Never enough! If you do make a decision to be a serious punter, then obtaining value has to be your No 1 priority, and you can mainly achieve value by going to the track, or betting to advantage over the phone with on-course bookies.

Then there's the aspect of the actual bet itself. Let's say you want to place a $100 bet. Do you bet it all at once, or split the bet? Some professionals I know are happy to split their bet into three or even four parts.

They put on, say, a quarter or a third when betting has been settled down for about 10 minutes, then they wait, look around for better prices and then place a second portion of the bet. The final portion is bet in the latter stages, or when the punters decide that the best price they can get is available. The tote is often bet with the last portion of the bet, providing a clear overlay is available.

Splitting the stakes means that you can gain the best average price about your selections. Think hard about this one.

Those of you who like each-way betting must remember some simple rules and facts about this form of staking. You should stick to smaller fields, because the more runners there are in a race the less is your chance of winning. Most pro punters I know do not bother with each-way betting. They prefer to back two horses in the same race for a win.

However, when faced with the dilemma of two selections in the one race, it's best to sit back and take a long look at them. Are they both worth backing? Should you sit the race out? Should you let one of them run against you?

To back both, add 1 to each of the odds, and place the smaller stake on the longer-priced selection and the higher one on the other shorter priced fancy. If Horse A is 5/1 and Horse B is 2/1, then you put 3 units on Horse A and 6 units on Horse B.

Should Horse A win you get back 18 units, should Horse B win you get back 18 units. So you are looking at a 100 per cent profit no matter which one scores.

Summing up, then if you want to get seriously rich, there are ways of doing it.

  • Make sure your selections are sensible and that you are betting on GOOD horses in GOOD races.
  • Accept short prices only about GOOD horses.
  • Increase your usual bet in TOP-CLASS races.
  • Always ensure you secure VALUE about your selections.
  • Split your bets instead of investing the entire sum in one hit.
  • When in doubt - stay out.

These are the rules you need to always follow if you are to have any real chance. They may seem difficult to follow, but they're not if you truly mean business.

We now look at three ways of betting that you can consider. Used in conjunction with SENSIBLE selections, bet only when there is VALUE, they can lead you to big winnings, providing you are prepared to bet with a mixture of care and risk.

Always remember that no staking plan can succeed without GOOD selections and GOOD prices.

The Grid-Link is a good betting idea. Staking is on single daily selections but the formula links up a series of doubles spread over several days in order to maximise the impact of the winners backed. There are 15 units which cover 1 bet a day for a 6-day week.

5 - 4 - 3 - 2 - 1 - 0.

These basic daily units increase according to winners backed but if the first 5 bets lose, then no double has materialised so there would be no bet on Day 6. On Monday, the bet is always 5 units. After each winner, combine the odds, so a 3/1 winner would be 3+1 equalling 4 to be added to each remaining bet.

4 - 3 - 2 - 1 - 0
4 - 4 - 4 - 4 - 4
8 - 7 - 6 - 5 - 4 

If the second and third bets lose, but the next is a 2/1 winner, the stakes for Friday would be

5 - 4
3 - 3
8 - 7

If Friday's bet lost but on Saturday there is a 6/4 winner (7 units bet), then the week ends with an overall profit of 14.5 units. This method will often beat level stakes betting. It can, of course; be used for race to race betting as well. Always ensure you are betting VALUE prices.

This is a favourite which we are only too delighted to repeat because it has proved such a winner. The trick is to link up one horse from one race with two from another in singles and eachway doubles.

RACE 1 – 1 unit win A
RACE 2 – Half unit win B
Half unit win C
1 unit eachway double A and B
1 unit eachway double A and C

Total stake: 6 units. (The half unit bets can, if you like, be lifted to 1 unit each to make the total stake 7 units).

This series of bets offers no less than 19 chances of a return. Always ensure you are betting VALUE prices.

This is the plan we recommend for 'risk' punters. It's called The Three Way Blitz and can be used for win or place betting.

Select 3 horses in different races. Bet the first 10 units a win (or place). If it loses then bet 10 units on the second horse. If it loses bet 10 units on the 3rd horse.

If the first horse wins, split the profits from that bet into 2 and add to the 2nd and 3rd horse base bets of 10 units each. Thus, if 15 units profit from first bet then 2nd and 3rd horses are bet 17.5 units each. If 2nd horse wins as well, take half its profit and add to the 3rd horse's bet.

This method attempts to capitalise on a run of wins or placings. It can return huge profits. Always ensure you are obtaining VALUE prices.

By Martin Dowling