Last issue, US expert Barry Meadow outlined his novel overlay approach for backing one selection in a race, provided overlay odds are available. In this second extract from his book Money Secrets At The Racetrack, he tells how to handle two overlays a race.

At times, two contenders will be listed at least 50 per above your odds line. Recently, I checked the results of 420 races in which I had two or more horses above the 50 per cent overlay mark (of which nearly all had only two horses above the line).

Playing both (or all) overlays would have resulted in a profitable return in 75 per cent of those 420 races. Conclusion: if two horses are overlaid, bet them both. When you bet more than one horse in a race, you are guaranteed at least one losing bet - so you must subtract that losing wager before considering whether the bet is still an overlay.

If one horse is 2/1 and another is 5/2, even if both are overlays, you'll wind up with less than even money for your action. That's why I insist on at least 3/1 for any horse that's part of a two-horse overlay bet.

TWO-HORSE OVERLAY CHART

if two overlays
6/4 or below3/1
13/8 or 7/47/2
2/14/1
5/29/2
3/1,7/26/1
4/17/1
9/2 8/1
5/19/1
6/110/1

If only one horse meets these more difficult overlay requirements, then play that horse only. For example, let's say a 6/5 shot (5/4, say) on your betting line is listed at 2/1 and your 4/1 shot is listed at 8/1. Skip the 2/1 shot and play the 8/1 shot only. Some players prefer to Dutch, using a formula that enables them to play two horses in a race and collect the same profit no matter which one wins. Dutching helps prevent long losing streaks, since generally when you bet only one overlay you'll be passing the one at low odds, which is more likely to win.

However, you are also laying out a lot more money to collect small profits and, often, both overlays lose. To determine the amount to bet on each contestant when you Dutch, check the (bookies) odds percentage table and bet the horses in that ratio.

In the above case, the numbers are 33 per cent for a 2/1 shot and 11 per cent for an 8/1, so you'd bet three times as much on the lower priced horse (for example, \$33 on the 2/1 and \$11 on the 8/1, so no matter which one wins you'd get back \$99 and show a \$55 profit).

The best time to Dutch is when you hate the favourite or second choice. Since the odds of the horses you'll be Dutching may equal 50 per cent or even as much as 60 per cent, you can't afford too many errors when you Dutch, but when you're right you'll sometimes feel almost guilty about stealing the few dollars profit.

MORE THOUGHTS
It is always better to bet too little than bet too much. It may take you longer to accumulate a large sum, but that is far better than the opposite possibility.

• When in doubt about whether to make a play, pass! There will always be other wagers and other days.
• It is possible to be the best handicapper in the universe and still lose money if you don't handle your cash correctly. Four items of advice summarise the matter:
1.  Keep records of all bets and expenses;
2. Do not overbet in relation to your bankroll;
3. Bet more when the value is greater;
4. Bet within your emotional threshold.
• Even when you play the game with an advantage, and a pro bettor may realistically expect to win 8 per cent to 10 per cent on each invested dollar, your losing streaks will astonish you. Playing five races a day, five days a week, it is no big deal to lose for months at a time.
• Some players want to bet their pick, no matter what. Instead, think value - which means that your decisions may not be the same as your selections.
• Don't look for winners. Instead, seek the best bet for the odds.

THE AUTHOR: Barry Meadow currently produces Master Win Ratings in the USA, plus an informative monthly newsletter. You can contact him at TR Publishing.