What makes a horse a standout 'best bet'? How can you say that on a heavy day's racing one horse stands out as a banker, a special, a good thing?

I like to think it's because a horse is fit, is racing at its best, and that it is well placed in its right class of race.

That's the easy part, isn't it, drawing up the theory behind the actual choosing of the best bet. I find it tough and I'm a seasoned professional so I can well imagine how difficult it must be for amateurs who lack confidence.

Why not, then, let someone else do all the hard work for you? I've come up with a system based on just that and in the period that I tested it, the results were most encouraging. I'm confident, though, that punters throughout Australia could easily improve upon it.

The impressive factor in the system is that in the test period it showed a profit at level stakes. And this is a true test of any system.

What I did was take the thing a step further by applying a progression method of betting for a win and a place. It certainly enhanced the profits.

The progression method I employed is quite simple; you should have no trouble making sense of it.

Look over the rules I've drawn up and think it over carefully before you make a decision about following the idea. It may well be that you know of a method of selecting best bets that can top the one I used. Maybe you know of a newspaper tipster who has an excellent record with best bets.

If you are concentrating on Melbourne racing, you could take heed of past performance results by the tipsters. In the Florsheim Tipsters' Award in recent years the most reliable experts have been John Greensill of Truth, Ken Coram of The Australian, Roy Aspinall of The Sun, and Rhett Kirkwood of the Melbourne Herald. Another fine tipster is John Panozzo, of the Sydney Daily Mirror's Melbourne bureau.

Maybe you can follow their best bets and come up with good winning results?

My selections were taken from The Australian newspaper. They apply to the major meetings in Sydney and Melbourne. I had two reasons for using this newspaper's best bets. Firstly, it lists just one best bet for each meeting and, secondly, the newspaper is distributed throughout Australia, so most punters have ready access to it.

The simple rules are as follows:

  1. Play the Best Bets only. These are listed in The Australian's liftout form guide.
  2. Bet for a win and a place, using separate columns.
  3. If you want to use progression betting, then read my following remarks most carefully and then check out the attached workout of recent results.

THE PROGRESSION: You start off with an initial bet of $10. You can use any unit you wish but for the purpose of this article I will assume bets beginning with $10.

If you strike a loser, your next bet is $20. Should you then get a winner your next bet would be $15. This, then, is the simple up and down progression. When you lose you advance by $10 and after a winner you retreat by $5.

The idea behind this thinking is that you expect to catch more winners than losers so you will have more money,
proportionally, on a horse when it does win. You never go below your initial $10 bet, by the way. Or, should you start with $20, never below that sum.

While level stake betting is quite okay, and reasonably safe, we adopt progression betting merely because it provides a way to boost profits.

You'll be able to deduce from the workout that a flat bet of $10 on each selection in Sydney and Melbourne gave you a profit of $115, a little more than 82 per cent. The progression produced a profit of $221, a percentage of more than 90 per cent.

What I particularly like is that the real risk to the punter is relatively small. Despite this, you are getting into quite a nice profit situation, without being placed at any great peril.

I doubt if the method will appeal to those punters who like the thrill of plunging big on a particular horse that they might strongly fancy. The "plunger" personalities can strike big wins, and run slap-bang into heap-big losses, too. That's what all the thrill is about, I suppose. Grab and run or bear the consequences!

"More cautious" will be only too happy to adopt a calm approach to things. Smaller profits don't worry them. They are happy to accept any profits.

You really couldn't strike a more simple system than this best bets one, could you? It saves you so much hassle. You don't have to pore over form guides, searching for the elusive crackerjack special of the day. All you need to do is fork out the 30 cents for the newspaper and there are your bets, in plain black print.

It takes away, too, the human element in everyone's makeup, of deciding to miss picking a certain horse for some quirky reason, or dropping your first best bet because you think it might be too short in the betting.

If you have the good sense to realise that a newspaper's best bet is the result of some heavy thinking amongst the racing writers, then you will be able to embark upon your betting with a sense of great confidence.

I know a number of sensible people who like to punt but they lack the elementary basics of character that are required to be successful. A famous philosopher once said, "Know Thyself " and nothing could be as close to the truth where punting is concerned.

Knowing yourself is as important in betting as it is in getting on with people, and forging a working career. You must be able to understand your personal foibles and weaknesses.

This best bets method will enable you to be relaxed in your approach.

Now, to get back to the system. When figuring the sum to be invested or earned during the progression, BE CAREFUL. Betting with $15 or $25 is a little more complicated than with even amounts, like $10 and $20.

Always take plenty of time to work out returns etc and use a calculator to ensure complete accuracy. You don't want to end up robbing yourself.

Looking at the workout again, I am struck by its marvellous run of winners. Look at those Sydney best bets! Six winners from seven bets and in Melbourne, three winners from seven bets.

The prices were nothing fantastic but you don't expect massive windfalls, do you, not when you are settling for the best horses of the day.

Since that workout I have continued to make checks and, without going into detail, I can tell you that the results have been good enough to continue the level stakes profit.

Bear in mind, too, that this workout was done in June when the tracks were often rain-affected; at these times it would be no surprise if the best bets had floundered.

On good tracks, then, I would expect equal if not better results.


By Martin Dowling