Each week in Australia, punters go on a betting frenzy with trifecta betting. It is a highly popular form of betting, and yet it's the one that most punters don't really understand.

Professionals urge punters to bet the trifectas according to their expected percentage chance, but very few punters take the advice, I'm sure. The approach is far too complicated for the $5 punter.

I think I can state without fear of contradiction, that 99 out of 100 trifecta punters will take a 'box' of 3 runners for $6, or $3 using 50c units. A smaller percentage again will link 4 horses ($24 or $12), and then we get to the even smaller group who will link 5, 6 or 7 horses.

'Boxing', then, is the accepted practice. But it's probably not as conclusively sensible as most people might think. For the small punter, the multiple-bet trifecta approach is, I believe, the best, and it's something writers in P.P.M. have pointed out a number of times before.

The other day, I received a letter from a Queensland punter who wanted to really attack the trifecta but didn't want to use the simple 'boxing' approach. This punter told me he was prepared to spend between $60 and $100 a race (betting on three races on a Saturday) and his question to me, naturally, was what staking method he should use.

Assuming the punter has a sensible selection method, and that he can narrow his main chances to three or four (for the win slot), there are any number of avenues open to make sensible trifecta bets.

Let's say he has four main selections. These are the core of his trifecta bet. He expects them to win, or be placed. Okay, his multiple trifecta bet should enable these four 'banker' horses to be placed into 1st, 2nd and 3rd slots. This is a normal 'box' situation.

But now we can take the approach a bit further. For an outlay of $64, you can have the following linkup: 4-5-6 which means, in effect, ABCD to win, ABCDE to run 2nd, and ABCDEF to run 3rd. You have four selections to win the race, the same horses plus another one for 2nd and these five horses plus a sixth to run 3rd.

A more confident punter might feel he should have only two or three banker horses. Okay, let's examine what options are open for this punter. Firstly, the punter who reckons he can bank on three horses for the win and place slots.

Assuming he has just over $60 to invest, a punter could opt for a linkup like this:3-4-9 which means, in effect, ABC to win, ABCD to run 2nd, and ABCDEFGHI to run 3rd. There are three selections chosen to win the race, the same horses plus another one for 2nd, and these four horses plus another five to fill the 3rd place.

For $60, a punter could have a linkup of 3-5-7, or 3-6-6. These are quite sensible bets. If you didn't want to spend as much, you could drop back a bit with a 3-5-6 linkup for $48.

Now to the punter who is brashly confident that he can enter the fray with just two bankers to win and place. This punter has a wide variety of options for a multiple bet. For $64, he can have the following linkup:2-5-10 which means, in effect, AB to win, ABCDE to run 2nd, and ABCDEFGHIJ to run 3rd. There are two selections to win, these selections plus three more to run 2nd, and these five horses plus another five for 3rd place. An excellent coverage once you have secured the winner from your two bankers.

A punter could also consider a 2-4-12 linkup for $60, or a 2-6-8, or a 2-3-17 (for big fields like those you get in the Doncaster, Epsom and Melbourne Cups).

Let's look at, say, the 2-5-10 bet and put some horses' names into it. Werribee R5, April 28. Punter Joe selects the favourite Turnout and an outsider Lethal Battle as his banker pair to win and place. He puts in Afghan Rebel, Zephyr Alco Bay, and Rosso Verde as extra for the 2nd position. Then he adds R Royal Revenge, Jolly Joker, Red Lustre, Sir Cape and Nip of Silver as extras for 3rd.

Turnout won the race at 4 / 1, Afghan Rebel finished 2nd at 10/1 while Royal Revenge (6/1) ran 3rd. The trifecta would have duly been landed by Punter Joe and on the Queensland TAB he would have collected $1040.70 for his investment of $64.

And this was in a race where the favourite won!

You can see, then, the strength of a multiple bet. Consider them carefully and obtain a copy of a TAB trifecta guide from your local agency to help you further. A good book with trifecta and other exotic bet combinations is Bill Thompson's What'll It Cost To Put a Bet On? available from W.T.F.T., P.O. Box 1290 Southport, Queensland 4215 for $10.

By Rick Roberts