Trifecta betting has become the most popular 'exotic' form of investment with Australian punters over the last five years.

It is attractive because it offers the prospect of immediate riches - like the recent $9,000 plus trifecta of Mr Lomondy, At Talaq and Our Sophia on the Caulfield Cup.

The problem is this: How on earth do you pick those horses which will fill the placings and return giant-sized dividends.

The cute, but very true, answer is: WITH GREAT DIFFICULTY. Most trifecta punters end up throwing all the well-fancied runners into their trifecta 'boxes' and, when they are lucky enough to strike, the return is disappointingly small. An investment of, say, five horses for a $60 box may return only $70 to $80. That means the trifecta punter has laid odds on about collecting. He would have been better off in some cases by plonking his money for a place on one of the three horses.

So, when you do chase the trifecta dreams, make sure you give yourself a fighting chance of picking up a BIG divvie - and I say this without seeming to be pushing you into putting in a bunch of no-hopers, just because they are 20s and longer in the betting.

What you need is a disciplined approach and the skill to be able to look at the 10-1 plus contenders, to decide which ones offer you a big chance of having them run into a placing.

It is these outsiders who offer you the only real hope of securing a big divvie. Remember that when you see yourself taking a four-horse box of the first four favourites. Ask yourself then: What return can I reasonably expect on this bet?

I have put together six selection plans that will help you get some sense of order and priority into your trifecta betting. Study them closely and decide which one you would like to operate.

You need some punting 'style' and 'cool' to come to terms with this plan. What you have to do is decide on a race where the well-fancied favourite (under 2-1) CANNOT run a place. Now, this is a difficult assignment and you will have to choose your strikes carefully, and limit your action. Once you have decided on the phoney hotpot, you discard it from your betting action.

You then move on to the 2nd and 3rd favourites in the pre-post market. You then use them as individual WIN bankers, linking them with four or five other horses in the race for $20 or $30 (assuming $1 units). Let's say your two horses are Red Anchor and Dulcify. You back Red Anchor to win, with Dulcify and, say, four others to run 2nd and 3rd. This is a $20 bet.

You then do the same with Dulcify to win and Red Anchor and four others to run the placings - another $20. As long as that phoney hotpot runs as expected, out of the placings, you should be right on the trifecta ball. To select the other horses in this bet, you could simply take the next four in the pre-post betting, or simply select those you fancy, remembering to put in at least one at odds of more than 10-1.

This one may not win too often, but when it does you can expect fireworks as far as the divvy is concerned. It centres around finding a longshot which has consistent career performances. You look at all the horses quoted at 10-1 and longer in the pre-post betting and your selection as a trifecta banker is the horse with highest WINNING percentage - above 20 per cent.

There might be three horses in this category, with winning percentages of 21, 28 and 30 per cent. Your selection obviously becomes the horse with the highest percentage. You then use it as a three-way banker, with four other horses. You back it to win the race, with the other four running 2nd and 3rd ($12), to run 2nd with the others taken to win and finish 3rd ($12) and lastly to run 3rd, with the other four to run 1st and 2nd ($12). Your longshot, then only has to run a placing, with any two of the other four filling the placings for you to crack the trifecta.

My suggestion for an easy way to operate is to take the longshot with the first four horses in the pre-post betting. You can extend the idea to five horses but this will cost $60, as opposed to $36. One thing about your longshot - it must have had its last start within 21 days, and it must have won or finished within 6 lengths of the winner. This is merely a safety brake for you.

My idea with this one is to aim for those punters who can afford no more than $24 for a trifecta box. This couples up four horses. To select those four horses, you merely take the first two favourites and then the two horses which are ridden by the best jockeys.

Okay, we'll assume that the first two favourites are ridden by Nigel Tiley and Darren Beadman. You then look at all the other runners, seeking those which are ridden by the jockeys currently leading the premiership table. Let's say they are Mal Johnston and Jim Cassidy. If they have mounts, they become your other two trifecta selections. If, say, Cassidy doesn't have a mount, you then look for one ridden by the jockey lying third on the premiership. And so on.

It won't take you long to find the selections and, judging from my research, you will very often come up with a most attractive trifecta box. Many times, these top riders can be found aboard horses at 1Os and longer in the market, and very often they will sneak into a placing, or even win the race. If you really fancy the first two favourites, you could operate in another way by using them as individual win bankers.

In this way, you would have Horses A and B - the first two favourites - as win bankers, with each other to run 2nd and 3rd, along with the other two horses. These two bets would cost only $6 each.

You will find action limited on this plan, but it can certainly throw up some amazing divvies. You operate only on races in which the betting is wide open, with the favourite (or co-favourites) at 5-1 or longer in the betting. You then completely ignore this favourite, or co-favourites, and use the next two horses in the betting as your bankers.
You then couple them individually with  the next seven horses in the betting (again ignoring the favourite, or favourites).

This gives you two separate trifecta bets of $42 each. An example of how this method can pay off dramatically came at Randwick on October 18, in the  City Tatts Club Cup (2400 m). The pre-post favourites at 5-1 were Reingard and Rajamah. We ignore them.

The next two in the betting were Sotip and Run for Cover at 6-1, so they became the bankers. We couple them with the next seven in the betting -SwtftCheval (7-1), Lord Hundalee (7-1), Kensei (8-1), Reckless Tradition (8-1), Social Cream (12-1), Spritely Native (15-1) and Sikorsky (20-1).

This, as you can see, gives a wide open trifecta bet. For $84, you have two well-fancied horses running for you, with a spate of horses at odds ranging from sevens to 20s. Your risk is that you are shovelling the favourite, or co-favourites, aside. In this case, the bet came off with Run for Cover scoring from Spritely native and Sikorsky. The trifecta paid $2338.

A result like this would give you another couple of dozen $84 bets before you blew all the divvie! I am suggesting a big bet for this plan because you will not have many of them and when they do come around, the risk is worth it for the potential return of many thousands.

This is, above all, only for those people who enjoy a day at the races and want to have a fun fling at the cost of $6 per race. Your banker selection is the first horse you come to in a field which is a last-start winner. (if no last-start winner, then choose the first horse down the runners with a 2nd placing).

You use this horse as your win banker, and couple it with three others. These other three horses (chosen to run 2nd and 3rd) are selected this way: One of them will be the race favourite, or 2nd favourite (depending on the price line of your banker); the next one will be the first horse you come to which ran 4th at its last start (if no 4th placer then take 5th etc); the final horse is the one drawn in the extreme outside barrier.

You'll be surprised at how many trifectas you pick up with this method. It's also worth coupling the four horses for another $6 in quinellas.


For the most part, this is as its name implies - a safety first method. You take as your first four horses, the top four in the newspaper pre-post market.

You then add a'wild card'- a horse quoted at 16-1 and longer. This has to be ridden by a good jockey, preferably one in the top 10 in your area, and must have finished within five lengths of the winner at its last start. You then couple these five horses for $60. You operate on one race each meeting only and it is up to you which one.

There are no hard and fast rules. Best to check out which horses qualify Tirst and then weigh up the advantages etc of the five-horse coupling. You are on safe ground with at least four of the horses and you have that roughie running for you. If this got into a placing, your trifecta divvie would start looking very generous.

These then are six trifecta selection plans that should (a) give you food for thought (b) provide you with plenty of betting action (c) or just provide you with a few 'fun' bets. Basically, though, they are sound selection methods and if applied to the right type of races will make you money.

I seriously suggest you try them on paper before committing any funds to them. I have enjoyed success with them at varying times in the past few years, but a lot depends on how racing is run in your particular area.

Keep in mind with trifectas that you should always try to shoot for BIG returns. After all, the outlays in some trifecta bets are not cheap and those seeking value will appreciate that the returns should be big, too.

When taking big win banker bets, always consider if you should instead have the money straight out for a win on the horse, instead of coupling it with four, five or six others for $12, $20 and $30. If the horse is a good price, you may well end up with as good a return for the win as for a trifecta.

By Martin Dowling