How prepared are we, as punters, to bet more than one horse per race? It's a question I pose to you very seriously because it's been my experience that most punters cannot handle such an approach.

The crucial point is that the average punter gets very deflated if he tries such a staking approach and suffers a couple of early losses. Let me explain what I mean: Let's call our typical punter Bill (sorry all you Bills out there!). He decides he is going to back 3 horses per race, 'saving' on two and whacking the rest of his money on his best-fancied pick.

Not a bad approach at all. So he begins - but in the first race he tries he fails to land a winner. His picks run 2nd and 3rd but they don't get the money. Into the second race, and, wouldn't you know it, his prime choice gets beaten by a nose and his 'savers' run nowhere!

Bill is depressed. Hit for six! Let's say he is down $20 on each race, a total of $40. Does he plough on, or does he say to himself, 'This is just as hard as my old way', and turn his back on it? I fear the answer in most cases is the latter.

In fact, I know from personal experience because 20 years ago I did exactly the same. I had a bad trot, and gave up multiple betting, though I instinctively knew I should have kept going. And, sure enough, within a couple of races I would have been soaring ahead through big-priced winners!

The key to using the 'multi-link' approach is to choose your spots carefully. Don't try to beat every race with a crash-through philosophy. Take it easy. One race day is exactly that. There will be thousands more!

And understand, too, what the percentages of this kind of betting are all about. Set yourself a minimum percentage gain on your three horses. Work out carefully what you are actually betting.

Let's say you decide on a 5/2 chance as your best bet. You think it has a great chance of winning. Your two 'savers' are priced at 4/1 and 5/1. Let's assume you have $20 to bet on the race.

Using the approach of dividing price into bank, we will find out how much to bet on the 'savers'. The 4/1 chance will get a $5 bet, the 5/1 chance will get a $4 bet. This leaves $11 to bet on the 5/2 chance. But what does this bet really mean?

What price are you actually accepting about your 'best bet'? You stand to receive $38.50 if it wins, a profit of $18.50 on your $20 outlay. Now that is definitely not 5/2, is it? No, your 'saver' bets have, naturally enough, clipped the price on your total bet to less than even money.

But this is still not a bad bet. You have three horses running for you two of them can return your money with a small profit on top, while the third can provide you with a near to even money profit (92.5 per cent, in fact).

But, of course, if this bet fails you are $20 down the tube. A similar bet on the next race, even if the best chance were to win, would still not recoup the $20 you lost on the first race. So by your third bet you are still trailing a little.

This is the point which galls a lot of $20 punters. They don't see their red banknote multiply immediately and they quickly become downcast, frustrated and begin to think that maybe the approach isn't worth a crumpet, anyway.

What they don't realise, or wish to realise, is that it is their selections which didn't do the job - not the staking plan itself. In other words, the staking plan is merely the messenger and we all know that it's no good shooting the messenger who delivers the bad news.

So keep all this in mind when you decide, one way or the other, to try multiple betting in the same race. Make sure, too, that you understand what the percentages are all about. Get a copy of a full list of 100 per cent chances in a race (known as the bookmakers' percentage chart) so you know the price that reflects each percentage.

Every punter should have a knowledge of both percentages and odds and chances. They actually mean the same thing expressed in a different way. They form the basis of the mathematics of betting and give you a sound idea as to whether or not the bookmaker has too much in his favour by the prices he is offering.

Remember that prices are of the utmost importance. The difference between a return at 7/4 and 6/4 is 14.3 per cent. Over a period of time that could mean a lot to you when you balance up winnings and losses.

Don't forget that if there are 4 runners in a race the 'true' chance against each of them winning is 3/1 against. This is the correct price which favours neither bookie nor punter.

NEXT MONTH: Take advantage of your winning streaks with a special 'Philip Roy Plan', specially devised for P.P.M. readers.

Click here to read Part 1.

By Philip Roy