Find a horse to run a place and go from that key point.

Many is the punter who in rage and frustration has torn up a betting ticket on a trifecta. Know the feeling? You get 1st, 2nd and 4th, or 2nd, 3rd and 4th, or your banker gets pipped in a photo-finish!

You're among a great, grand army of despair when it comes to dealing with the vicissitudes of betting on trifectas. My colleague Brian Blackwell is currently in a syndicate betting on trifectas in Hong Kong, in particular the Double Trio over there, which asks that you find 1 / 2 / 3 in two consecutive races.

Doesn't sound like too hard a task? Believe me, it is, and Brian will confirm it, though his syndicate has to date picked up two Double Trio dividends worth some $2500. But they are after the big divvies and in HK big is BIG, with some exotic pools returning $3 million results for lucky and clever punters!

Brian admits there have been some frustrating near misses - one of which saw his syndicate miss out on a $250,000 return. The banker they selected ran 4th instead of 3rd in the second leg of the Double Trio!

Brian's line of thinking - to shoot for COLD - has to be applied in Australia by any punter with a serious ambition to win decent money. The ultimate rewards may not be as huge as in HK, but you can still win thousands in one go if not millions. However, if you follow the herd on trifectas, and any exotic pool, the reality is that you will lose, just like everyone else does.

Your thinking has to be that of someone prepared to bet against the herd. Yes, by all means have a favourite in your trifecta combination - but don't make it the focal point of the bet. Use the value-priced runners to get the edge over your fellow punter.

Believe me, this is the only way you are going to make substantive gains. The favourites should be everyone else's business, not yours. Sure, they'll win a few but they will also let you down badly - and even when they win they cramp the payouts.

Some punters won't care as long as they are getting something back. The serious punters look beyond small, short-term gains and keep the Paul Keating-style 'big picture' in mind.

One of my key bets with the trifecta for a long time has been the 4x4x10 - without the favourite being used to win. I have slotted the favourite among those for 3rd but never do I incorporate it into the four horses chosen to win and run 2nd as well as 3rd.

I try to limit my bets to those races where I can comfortably choose just four horses I think should win and take out the quinella between them. I automatically exclude the favourite. Some may see this as silly. I don't. I am simply not interested in the horse that everyone else is betting.

The cost of this particular bet is $96 using $1 units, so you will realise I do not bet on too many races. Midweek I will have a lash at a couple on the metropolitan meetings and then I will choose two, occasionally three, races to 'hit' on Saturdays.

I like big fields (at least 12 runners, the more the merrier) and I like pretty good class races, though I am not finicky about this; I sometimes attack Maiden races at the Brisbane tracks on Saturdays!

It all depends on how I assess the likely return from a race, weighed against the general risk factor. As for selecting the horses to go in 'the four' I like to have at least two listed at double-figure odds in the morning pre-race betting market. Once again, I am seeking the value edge.

Your four main selections are chosen to run 1st, 2nd and 3rd. You then add another six horses for 3rd, including the dear old favourite! What you have, then, is a bet that gives you a chance, if your selecting is slick enough, of coming home with some right royal bacon.

I know that in some respects, experts will disagree with me regarding my turning my back on the favourites. I was chatting only the other night to a colleague who shall remain nameless - who scornfully dismissed my thinking, telling me: "If anyone's top four selections do not contain the first two favourites, then I wouldn't even bother putting on the bet. The statistics indicate you must have the favs in for the win in the trifecta, otherwise you are so far out of line with the public's thinking that you are going to end up winning rarely."

My colleague makes a moot point but I think a blacker one than reality dictates. Sure, the favs' backers may win more but their wins will always be frozen by the weight of public money. If EVERYONE is landing the trifecta, where's the value? There isn't any.

I'm happy to collect one in 10 if I know the draw I get is going to be a whopper!

Now I am going to suggest another way to land big trifectas and this is by way of a floating banker. But I don't go all the way and put the banker in for 3rd. I merely use it to win and run 2nd ... with 10 others to fill the other slots.

It's a tactic that may well have been in your own minds and it may well have been mentioned before in this very magazine - but it certainly bears repeating.

You need to choose your banker carefully. Once again I warn you to forget about favourites.

They may look appealing, seductive, alluring ... but you have to look past them. If it means dodging a race, then dodge it. Go for a value banker.

Once you have decided on a banker (and I suggest you pick a solid chance around the 8 / 1 plus mark) you then choose 10 other horses you feel can run the other two placings. Sometimes, in a field of 11 or less, you will be able to take 'the field' for these slots.

The idea is to take your banker to win, with the other 10 to run 2nd and 3rd - and then to take your banker to run 2nd, with the other 10 to run 1st and 3rd. Thus, if your banker wins or runs 2nd, and two of your selected 10 fill the other placings, you have landed the trifecta.

The bet costs $180 if you are using $1 units, or $90 using 50c units. How do you work it out? It's easy. The combination is 1-10-10. Which is multiplied as 1x10x9 equalling 90 combinations. Then, 10-1-10 which is multiplied as 10x1x9 equalling 90 combinations.

I have landed a host of wonderful trifectas using this approach. My most recent one paid $335 (pretty low really) when Drogheda, my banker, ran 2nd at Rosehill on April 26. Alas, in this race the hot 10 / 9 favourite Blue Gum won the race and, yes, killed a hot divvie.

While recommending the 4x10x10 approach I am not advocating a total addiction to such a rigid approach. I feel very strongly that all punters should have a 'fluid' approach to their betting (no, not beer). Be prepared to change your staking approach should the circumstances demand. Don't be afraid to show daring and a sense of courage and spirit; don't let betting get the better of you.

One professional told me a long time ago that you either grabbed the betting game by the throat (actually he used another example but throat will do for this article) or it would control you and throttle you. There was no room, he opined, for those with no heart.

Which probably explains why so many punters fail; they lack that final touch of strength, or even madness, in the pursuit of their dreams.

Not that I'm suggesting you go off your rocker, merely gently prodding you into being just a little more daring than you think you should be, or have been in the past! It can pay off handsomely.

My pal The Optimist (what a good judge, he is) has always been devoted, slavishly so I suspect, to the AB-Field trifecta, a bet he has talked about before in PPM. He has used it to enormously beneficial effect.

I like it, too, and like him I have landed quite a number of AB-Field trifectas. I also like to bet the quinella at the same time, provided it is going to pay odds of more than around 20/1 to 25/1. How do you know the expected odds if there is no monitor operating from the tote?

Simple: Just do the old trick of multiplying the win odds. If Horse A is paying $6 and Horse B is paying $7 you go 6x7 equals 42, divided by 2 and you will see that the likely divvie for the quinella will be around $21, give or take a dollar or two.

If you find a suitable quinella, then throw $5 or $10 on it, as well as taking your AB-Field trifecta. It can sometimes pay off handsomely.

The AB-Field, of course, is a bet that demands you select two runners to fill 1st and 2nd with the field to run 3rd.

These, then, are just a few ways you can have a real go at knocking off the trifectas and, best of all, knocking off some of the BIG ones. Not those tiddly little ones with the red-hot favourite kicking everyone in the pants.

These plans are not all that expensive to operate. With the costliest, the 4x10x10, you could call in a couple of mates and form a syndicate. That would reduce the load. Assume you pick one race a week, and you bet in 50c units, your outlay would be just $30 each.

The chance is there, if your selections adhere to the search for value, for you to pick up a great deal of money from a whacking big tri. That's the beauty of what I have been talking about - you have to put yourself in a position to win big dough.

Brian Blackwell says this is why he has begun betting seriously on Hong Kong racing. If he is right in just a couple of races when most other punters are wrong, Brian and his syndicate mates can pull off hundreds of thousands of dollars. The huge HK betting pools see to that.

You can conduct a similar campaign of 'chasing the big ones' right here in Australia. Use your racing brain sensibly, look for the clues the other punters miss, and always seek out value and you will be on the right path to winning.

There will be losing streaks, yes, but you will know that one big trifecta can wipe them out and still put you well in front.

NEXT MONTH: Richard Hartley Jnr examines several selection methods that involve points allotment to produce 'ratings' for runners in a race. These are intriguing new approaches suitable for any punter, whether a $5 bettor or a $100 bettor. Don't miss this great 3-page article in the July PPM.

By Richard Hartley Jnr