Several P.P.M. readers have written to me requesting a method of staking which will allow them to make modest profits while at the same time giving them some excitement.

It's interesting-to me, at least-that so many punters regard betting as a sort of 'excitement machine'. Take away that excitement and betting is not so attractive. The effect of this, naturally, is that excitement-punters want plenty of action; showing discipline by betting on only a few races doesn't suit them at all.

The Alphabet Staking Plan is one that has interested me for many years. You can use your own selections or those of a newspaper tipster; it's up to you. I'll call the selections A, B and C for simplicity's sake.

RULE ONE: If Horse A is 2/1 or better, it is backed to win. If Horse A is not at 2/1 or better, it is ignored and Horse B then comes into consideration as a place bet. If Horse B is 7/4 or better for a place it is backed. If it isn't, then Horse C comes into calculations. If Horse C is at 6/4 or better for a place it is backed for a place. If all three horses fail to qualify, return to Horse B and if it's at better than 2/1 then back it for a win. If Horse B doesn't qualify then ignore the race.

RULE TWO: The objective is to win a certain amount per race, plus all losses. With $1 as the basis, the aim will be to win $1 per race. You never bet less than $1. Your bet on the first race is $1. Should it lose, your aim on the second race will be to win the $1 from the first race, $1 for the second race, plus the $1 you already have lost. If our horse in the second race is, say, 3/1 we still bet $1. In the event of a further loss, the bet on the third will be the $1 aimed at for each race, plus the two $1 losing bets, a total of $5. If the horse to be backed is, say, 5/2, your bet will be $2.

RULE THREE: The procedure in Rule Two is continued but the maximum bet to be made must not exceed $13.

RULE FOUR:  If we assume you have a really bad run and your objective reaches, say, $60, and the horse to be backed is 2/1, you have to remember that your maximum bet is only $13. You invest only that amount. Should this horse win, you will have regained $26. Your next aim will be $35, made up of deducting $26 from $60 and then adding the $1 target for the next race.

RULE FIVE: If your target, due to a losing run, hits $76, you change your betting approach. You now drop the maximum $13 bet and now bet 10 per cent of the target. In this case it would be a $7.60 bet (rounded to $7.50). Continue in this manner, adding on any losses, until you strike a winner. After this you deduct the amount won and then bet 12.5 per cent of the remaining target until you back another winner. As soon as a winner is found in the 12.5 per cent bets, you then increase the bets to 15 per cent of the remaining debit. You continue like this (17.5, 20, 99.5, etc.) until the target is reduced to $30, from where you return to the original investment method.

The capital needed for $1 punters would need to be around the $400 mark.

Now, at first look this may seem a complicated method of staking but it isn't at all. It's been compiled for the benefit of the punter who does not seek a fortune from any one meeting but who takes the sensible long-term view of his/her betting.

Once profits are being made, you can always increase your aim per race from $1 to $1.50 or $2. On most good selections, the Alphabet Plan will take some beating.

Results from the most recent Sydney meeting as I write this gave the following results (using pre-post market to determine bets): Race 1, Win bet, Lost 7/2; Race 2, Win bet, Lost 10/1; Race 3, Place bet, 2nd 16/1; Race 4, Win bet, 2nd 13/8 (9/4 pre-post); Race 5, Place bet, Lost 5/1; Race 6, Win bet, WON 6/4 (was 5/2 in pre-post); Race 7, Win bet, WON 7/2; Race 8, Win bet, 2nd 7/2.

You get such a choice selection of value bets with this selection approach that extended losing runs do not crop up very much at all. It's a case of steady betting on solid selections, with lots of good returns.

You can, of course, use the selection method itself and operate on the basis of backing the first horse of the three that can show you a dear one unit or more of profit.

What do I mean by this? Okay, you select three horses in a race at 6/4, 5/2 and 5/1. Total possible outlay is three units for a one unit win on each. Such a bet on the 6/4 chance would not produce a profit, but a loss of half a unit.

But a one unit bet on the 5/2 chance would give you a potential half unit profit. So it becomes the bet.

But here's the twist: You back only that horse. You forget the other two. So you are having a straight-out bet of 5/2, with potential profit of 2.5 units. Get the idea? Clever little twist on things, isn't it?

By Richard Hartley Jnr