Pick 'em to win and bet 'em to place! How often have we heard that little piece of advice? Lots. But the man who originated it had a moot point.

He should have drawn the line at a certain price. It's tough enough securing value when betting for a place, without backing enormously short-priced selections.

My advice is to haul in a cut-off price of around 3/1 - and then have a bash at the place betting technique.

Adjust your bets according to the price of your horse. A friend of mine does this, and reports big successes with carefully-chosen place-bet selections.

Here's his chart for his price adjusted place betting:

(for win)(for place)
20/1 plus3

Using this table of bets, you will be able to approach place betting with some confidence. For example, on a place bet at 4/1, which will actually be a place bet paying around even money, you will invest 8 units for a 16 unit total return. An 8/1 chance, which should pay, say, around 2/1 the place, will call for a 6.5 unit bet for a total return of 19.5 units.

The lowest priced selection you play is one being offered at 3/1 for the win. At a quarter the odds, approximately, you will invest 10 units for a total return of 17.5 units.

Picking your selections is another matter! You now know how to bet them, so how do you pick 'em? For a start, always keep in mind that you are looking only at those horses about which you can secure 3/1 or longer.

If you are at the TAB, keep your eyes peeled on the monitors for those horses paying $4 and more for a $1 unit. A $4 divvie is, of course, 3/1 odds. Then you've got to check out the place divvie. Anything less than around $1.65 to $1.70 - forget it.

You HAVE to get some value, otherwise you'll end up chasing your tail. Pick your bets carefully; be prepared to sit out a few races.

I understand as well as anyone else that the majority of punters love to bet, and they like to get lots of action. Okay, if this is the way you want to go, that's fine. But at least show a little caution and selectivity.

There are usually 8 races on a program. Why not scrub three of them? Just bet on five. That should be more than enough. Betting according to the chart that I have shown you, there should be little trouble in going home with a nice profit - especially if you have the courage to STOP betting once you've hit a profit, no matter how small.

Now, I know that 99 out of 100 punters will never stop once they are ahead. The desire to keep betting is strong. But if you can resist, do so. Then you can front up fresh and raring to go for the next meeting.

Now we come to the problem of deciding exactly which horses you should back for a place.

The following are some spot play methods to consider:


  1. Consider only the top weighted runner in Open handicaps between 1600m and 2100m at metropolitan tracks.
  2. Horse must be at 3/1 or longer.
  3. Horse must be a winner over the distance of the race.
  4. Horse must have won at least one of its last two starts.


  1. Bet only on Open handicaps and welters at metropolitan tracks.
  2. Horse must be at 3/1 or longer.
  3. Consider only those horses which have won BOTH their last two starts on metropolitan tracks.
  4. Horse must be dropping 1kg or more in weight from its last start.


  1. Consider only horses resuming from a spell (marked with an S, X or in your form guide).
  2. Horse must be at 3/1 or longer.
  3. Horse must have at least 3 wins at the track.
  4. Horse must be listed as having won first-up from a spell before.


  1. Consider only those horses which are last-start winners on a country or provincial track and which are now racing at a metropolitan track.
  2. Horse must be at 3 /1 or longer.
  3. Horse must be dropping at least 2kg in weight.
  4. Horse must have been in the first 3 placings at all its last 3 starts.


  1. Consider only those horses which finished 4th or worse last start but were less than 2.5 lengths behind the winner.
  2. Horse must be at 3/1 or longer.
  3. Horse must have a metropolitan win at its second or third last start.
  4. Horse must have at least a 50 per cent place record.


  1. Consider only those runners in metropolitan races which showed improvement at their last start by running a placing (2nd or 3rd) following two unplaced runs.
  2. Horse must be at 3/1 or longer.
  3. Horse must have been placed (1st, 2nd or 3rd) at both track and distance.
  4. Horse must have finished within 2.5 lengths of the winner last start.


  1. Look for any runner resuming from a spell.
  2. Horse must have at least TWO wins when resuming from a spell.
  3. Horse must be at 3/1 or longer.
  4. Horse must have at least one placing in its most recent form.

These are just a selection of spotplay methods that you can use to haul in your place bet selections. You may well choose less mechanical ways to arrive at the final bets. It depends on whether you like personal form analysis or whether you prefer a few plans to give you a kick-along.

Personally, I am a great believer in these spot play methods for those punters who like plenty of action. Using them, you can check out the runners in every race to see which selections are coughed up by the various systems.

Where you get a solid one-bet only from all the various systems, you can be sure that you are on to a pretty good place chance. Sometimes, by applying all the various systems, you may get more than one selection.

That's when you have to decide which ones are the best. You use your racing knowhow. Take your time, look at the form, check the prices and note which ones are selected by the tipsters.

In the latter instance, it may be best to ignore those which are tipped! Sometimes, those newspaper tipsters can be pretty much astray.

How might you go on a typical program? Let's say you have chosen five races on which to bet. You have one selection in each race. The prices available are as follows:

BET ONE: 7/2
BET TWO: 5/1
BET FIVE: 8/1.
The place divvies available (let's assume you are a tote bettor) are as follows:
BET ONE: $1.75
BET TWO: $2.10
BET THREE: $1.90
BET FOUR: $3.10
BET FIVE: $2.90.
I have assumed that the place divvies will not always be a quarter of the odds. If you are any good at all at picking place bets you should be able to strike THREE times (60 per cent) or perhaps FOUR times (80 per cent) - but let's say you get three placers home.

Let's say they were bets 1, 3 and 5. Your first bet would have been 8 units on the $1.75 chance. It gets a place so you win 6 units. The second bet is 7 units but it loses. Right now you are losing 1 unit.

The third bet is 8 units and the horse runs a place, so you win $7.20. You are now ahead by 6.2 units. The fourth bet of 6.5 units loses and you drop 6.5 units. That puts you 0.3 units in arrears, but the fifth bet wins. This is a bet of 6.5 units and you win 12.35 units.

Your bets for the day total 36 units, the return on them totals 48.05 units - a profit on the day of 12.05 units. In real terms, this is a profit on turnover of 33.3 per cent enough to delight even the toughest professional heart!

If you can maintain such an approach you would certainly be looking at a rosy future. Had you, of course, stopped at a profit you would have had ONE bet only for a profit of 6 units, which would have been a 75 per cent profit on turnover. Had you stopped at the second profit-maker (bet three) you would have been 6.5 units ahead, or 28.2 per cent on turnover.

Think deeply about these place betting ideas, test them out on paper first - and then, if you are confident of your selections, go ahead and put the money on!

By Martin Dowling