Knowing when to “draw the line” in the number of combinations is a key factor in successful betting on trifectas.

Most punters have only a limited amount of money to spend. In a way, this is a good thing. It at least stops the punter from wasting money on combinations that are highly unlikely to succeed.

I think \$25 is a fair “average” bet . . . so, with that in mind, what can you do to spend that \$25, or even something smaller, with your trifecta combinations?

For a start, what about a 1 x 5 x 6 combination? This gives you a banker to win the race, coupled with five runners to finish 2nd and 3rd, and one other to run 3rd.

This is the combination:

A//BCDEF//BCDEFG

This is a nice approach if you are very confident that you have isolated the winner of the race. With five runners going for 2nd place and then one other thrown in for 3rd, you are giving yourself a good chance of nailing the trifecta.

What about when you have a largish field but you still feel confident you can get the winner in one pick?

For \$24, you can have a 1 x 2 x 13 combination. That is, one horse chosen to win, then two runners to fill 2nd and 3rd, and then another 11 in for 3rd.  This is the combination:

A//BC//BCDEFGHIJKLMN

The trick with this one is that you are trying to get 1st and 2nd placings with a minimum number of selections . . . just one pick for the winner and then just two runners going for 2nd slot. If you can get 1st and 2nd home then you really should strike the trifecta because you, in fact, have 12 runners bidding to fill the 3rd slot.

Another \$24 combination is the one that provides for a clear top pick to win, linked with four runners to fill 2nd, and then another three put in for 3rd. This is a 1 x 4 x 7 combination, as follows:

A//BCDE//BCDEFGH

Let’s now look at having two selections to win and run 2nd. For \$24 you can give yourself a 2 x 2 x 12 combination. However, your selections A and B are chosen to run 1st and 2nd only, and then the other 12 runners are for 3rd only. The combination is:

AB//AB//CDEFGHIJKLMN

Get those first two runners home, and you have a dozen runners to fill 3rd spot.

This leads us to the AB-AB-Field trifecta, about which we have talked many times before in the pages of PPM. It’s an excellent approach if you can find the quinella pair in a race because it gives you the chance of nailing a longshot into 3rd place and giving yourself a big trifecta return.

With a field of, say, 20, such a trifecta combination will costs you only \$36 using \$1 units, or \$18 for 50c units, and then, of course, you can use flex-betting to outlay as much as you like and secure a percentage of the dividend.

We now come to a \$24 bet using two runners for the win slot, three runners for 2nd and eight runners for 3rd. The combination is as follows:

AB//ABC//ABCDEFGH

Okay, with this one you have chosen two runners to win the race. Assuming you get the winner, you now have the other choice plus Horse C going for the 2nd spot. If you get this, then you will have one of those runners (B or C) going for 3rd, along with five others for 3rd (DEFGH).

Moving along, we can get a \$24 combination using two horses to win, those two plus two others for 2nd, and then another two runners for 3rd. The combination is:

AB//ABCD//ABCDEF

Things get a bit tricky for the \$24/\$25 punter once the combinations grow in size. This means you have to bet in 50c units to get the outlay right.

You might like the combination of 2 x 5 x 8. Using \$1 units, this will cost \$48, but when you use 50c units you are back to \$24. The combination is:

AB//ABCDE//ABCDEFGH

Once again, this combination demands that you find the winner in two selections. But once you snare the winner, you have a pretty good chance of getting amongst the money because you have four runners going for 2nd (remember that horse A has won the race), and if you get 2nd you then have six runners going for 3rd.

We’ll move on now to combinations that provide for three runners to win the race. For \$24 using \$1 units, you can have a 3 x 3 x 6 combination.

The combination is like this:

ABC//ABC//ABCDEF

You bet this trifecta combination when you are confident you can nail the first two home with your three selections.

They also run for 2nd for you, so what you are really trying to do is get the quinella with three picks. If you do this, then you have a chance of landing the trifecta because you have three extra runners in for 3rd along with the sole surviving runner from your first three selections.

Now let’s widen our horizons and look at the \$48 combination which provides for the following linkup: 4 x 4 x 6.

Here you are giving yourself a very good chance of landing the first two home because you have four selections for 1st/2nd. However, if you manage to get those quinella horses home your chances of getting 3rd are only moderate because you have two runners left from your original four, plus another two.

The combination is as follows:

ABCD//ABCD//ABCDEF

To outlay \$24 you would need to take this combination for 50c units.

Once you get into the territory of taking five horses for the winner you are into “high outlay” problems. A straight “box” of five selections costs \$60, so even a 50c approach would cost you \$30.

I much prefer taking mixed combinations rather than straight “box” combinations.

For \$21, you can have a lot of fun with a combination which goes 1 x 6 x 8. This costs \$42 for \$1 units, so you would be investing in 50c units to achieve the \$21 outlay. The combination is:

A//BCDEFH//BCDEFGHI

We are back to the “pick the winner in one selection” area. I know this appeals to many punters because they realise that if you can make the right choice then you give yourself a lot of leeway to drag in those 2nd and 3rd placegetters.

In this instance, you have six runners going for 2nd. This allows you to embrace well-fancied and longshot runners. Five of this six will go on to run for 3rd for you, along with two others.

Get a good-priced winner and this combination might well be able to land you a very big dividend.

What if you were in a syndicate that had, say, \$200 to spend on a trifecta? How could you best go about investing that large amount?

Let’s say you had a big field. You are confident you have the winner in two picks. How could you spend \$200 to nail the trifecta?

For a start, make sure that the two horses you have chosen to carry the win portion of the bet are at good odds.

No use in most instances in taking hot favourites, because every other punter is doing that and the divvies are being strangled.

For \$204, you could take the following combination:

2 x 7 x 19. That is the following:

AB//ABCDEFG//ABCDEFG and another 13 runners. So, if you get the first two home, you will have 17 runners going for 3rd, probably every runner.

Let’s say there is a 12 horse field. You are confident you can get the winner in one pick. That leaves 11 runners which could get 2nd and 3rd.

You reckon you can get 2nd with three selections, and you want to take the Field for 3rd. This is a combination like this:

1 x 3 x Field, or A//BCD//Field.  It will cost you \$30.

With \$200 to spend you could take the combination six times for \$180, with \$20 left over. If the trifecta gets up and pays, say, \$130 your return is six times that . . . \$780.

What you need to think about is this: Would it have been better to have just put the \$180 on your standout horse for the win?  If it was a 5/1 chance, that \$180 win bet would have won you \$900, making it a better return than the trifecta.

But what if you’d struck a whopping trifecta paying \$500? You’d have a return of \$3,000, and that is certainly a better return than a plain win bet.

So it’s a toss-up, really, on what to do.

Finally, a few thoughts about selection: Always think very carefully about the jockeys and trainers you are choosing. Some high profile types invariably end up somewhere in a trifecta (trainers like Chris Waller, jockeys like Darren Beadman), and then there’s the choice of racing. It  is usually well worth attacking major races like the Doncaster, Epsom and, of course, the spring Cups.

The choice of the “right” trainers and jockeys in your trifecta combinations is an important issue, and one that in the long-term could mean the difference between a profit or a loss.

The fact is that every time you come to prepare a trifecta bet you will have choices to make between various runners. Which ones should go in, which ones should be left out? After all, you can’t put them all in, save for when you are betting the Field for, say, 3rd place.

Faced with a choice between a horse trained by a minor trainer from Dubbo and a horse trained by, say, Chris Waller with Darren Beadman aboard, who do you go for? The answer is quite easy. You go with the strength, and in this instance it’s Waller and Beadman.

You’ll find that in the course of 12 months, horses trained by the major trainers and ridden by the top jockeys will fill a high proportion of the win and 2nd spots in trifectas. Not always, but generally, over 12 months, yes.

So always “think big” when it comes to decision-making time between horses that seem to be close chances on the formlines. You won’t get it right all the time but you will get it right more times than you get it wrong if you place your faith in those trainers and jockeys who are proven winners.

A quick rundown on the “hot” performers:

SYDNEY
JOCKEYS: Blake Shinn, Nash Rawiller, Jeff Lloyd, Dan Nikolic, Hugh Bowman and Larry Cassidy.
TRAINERS: Gai Waterhouse, Peter Snowden, Bart Cummings, David Payne, Chris Waller, Gerald Ryan and Anthony Cummings.

MELBOURNE
JOCKEYS: Craig Williams, Corey Brown, Craig Newitt, Seb Murphy, Damien Oliver, Luke Nolen, Brad Rawiller and Steven Arnold.
TRAINERS: David Hayes, Lee Freedman, Danny O’Brien, Mick Price, Peter Moody and Robert Smerdon.

BRISBANE
JOCKEYS: Jim Byrne, Glen Colless, Brad Pengelly, Jason Holder, Jason Taylor and Michael Palmer.
TRAINERS:  Barry Baldwin, Rob Heathcote, Gillian Heinrich, Alan Bailey, Bruce McLachlan and Bryan Guy.

JOCKEYS: Chad Lever, Clare Lindop. Paul Gatt and Dwayne Dunn.
TRAINERS: David Hayes, Leon Macdonald, Richard Jolly and David Jolly.
These are a guide only but they should help you to decide one way or another when you are faced with a tough choice setting up a trifecta combination.

NEXT MONTH: How can you beat the First 4 without spending too much money on your combinations. We give you a wide range of options from \$10 through to hundreds of dollars (ideal for syndicate bets!).

By Jon Hudson

PRACTICAL PUNTING – JUNE 2008