Any course on learning how to bet properly has to include provision for arming punters with knowledge about multiple betting. It's something we've talked about before in PPM but which remains one of the most contentious areas when punting is discussed.

Multiple betting has its good and bad sides. The late Eric Connolly, a great punter in his heyday (though he died not far short of being broke), always stressed that the most important factor in betting was 'value', and punters should know the true meaning of odds before commencing their operations.

This, he said, applied particularly to punters who backed two or more runners in the same race. Said Connolly: "When punters commence dual betting, and making savers, they seldom realise the short odds they sometimes accept."  To prove his point, Connolly explained that many punters' favourite system was to back the first two favourites in a race. Assuming, then, that the first fancy was 2/1 and the second favourite 4 /1 (and such a liberal margin cannot always be obtained), would the punter realise what price this really is that either one won't win?

The punter is actually laying 8 to 7 ON. Here is the simple workout which proves it. You invest \$1 on each of the first two favourites, a total outlay of \$2. If the favourite (2 / 1) wins, you collect \$3, including the \$2 you invested. So you have actually laid 2 /1 ON. Should the second favourite (4/1) win, you collect \$5, which includes your total stake of \$2, so your overall price on the 4/1 winner is, in fact, only 6/4.

To work out any problem in multiple betting you must add the odds to 1 to each bet and then add the least common multiple. Thus:

First wager, the price was 2/1. Add 2 and 1 and you get 3.

Second wager, the price was 4/1. Add 4 and 1 and you get 5.

The least common multiple of 3 and 5 is 15, so the odds that one or the other does not win are 8 / 7 ON. You'll really have to be accurate in your selection process to win with figures like this.

You might think it's 'easy' to bet two or three horses in a race, but unless you are absolutely spot-on over a long period the odds will eventually slam you out of existence.

A punter backs three horses in the same race at4/1,4/1 and 6/1. His stake is \$3. If a 4/1 horse wins he gets back \$5 for his \$3. If the 6/1 shot wins he gets back \$7 for his \$3.

Notice how the odds are not so attractive anymore? That 6/1 shot has actually been returned to the punter at only 1.3 to 1. You invested \$3, you got a \$4 profit. The bets on the other two horses have carved the odds to pieces. If one of the 4/1 horses had won your return would have been only \$5 for the \$3 total outlay, odds of 6/4 ON.

Maybe now you'll realise what the traps are in multiple betting. The lesson to be learned is that you must learn to calculate exactly what odds you are restricting yourself to when you bet more than one horse a race.

I have always believed that the secret of multiple betting is to shoot for a big stake with your No. 1 fancy and then merely cover 'losses' with 'a slight interest percentage, or a 'saver' on other runners. To presume to back three or four runners in a race and win heavily on whichever of them wins is basically a fanciful notion.

Eric Connolly urged his followers to 'save'. He went for a big win on his main horse and then 'saved' the stake on another two. The formula for doing this is easy:

Decide how much you are going to bet. Look at the prices of your 'saver' horses. Add one to their prices and divide into the total to bet. The balance of the stake is invested on the main chance.

Let's assume you are going to bet \$20. The two 'savers' are at 4/1 and 9/1. Add 1 to each and divide. That is 5 into 20 equals a bet of 4 units on the 4/1 chance. Divide 10 into 20 and you get a more than one runner you are accepting reduced odds. Another example of this: bet of \$2 on the 9/1 chance. Now you have \$14 left to bet on your No. 1 selection.

This is a good method of betting providing you concentrate on races which will ensure you select a high percentage of winners. Of course, for those of you seeking still more enlightenment there is an alternative approach. With this method you can bet to win on all three runners, going for a decent profit on your main fancy and a slight percentage on the other two.

The formula is as simple as the previous one, the only difference is this:

IN MAKING YOUR SAVER BETS YOU DON'T ADD ONE TO THE PRICE. YOU MERELY DIVIDE BY THE ACTUAL PRICE.

This formula can be applied to as many runners as prices permit. In the example above, betting 'savers' at 4/1 and 9 / 1, with a \$20 overall stake, your savers would be bet at \$5 and \$3 (rounded off to highest mark), leaving \$12 to go on your main fancy. Should the 4/1  saver win you would get back \$25 for a \$5 profit; should the 9/1 saver wm you would get back \$30 for a \$10 profit.

Keen students of selection and multiple betting understand, I would say, how Eric Connolly was able to make so much money from this sort of approach. As Connolly himself said: "That was the bread and butter of my turf earnings and what I accomplished in that regard can also be achieved by any punter who is prepared to wait for the right races and then put his money down in the way bookmakers like the least - that is, in a carefully calculated approach of more or less making your own book against the bookmakers."

Let's take some recent examples to see how the two-horse 'saver 'bet works, when you have sorted out a strong No. 1 selection. For the purposes of this exercise we'll assume the race favourite as the main pick and the 2nd and 3rd favourites as the savers.

At Rosehill on September 19, Jatz was the 10/9 favourite in the opening race. The next best were Zadames and Pip Away at 7/1 and 8 / 1. Assuming a \$20 bet total, and seeking a small profit on our savers, we would have had \$3 on Zadames and \$3 (rounded off to the highest mark) on Pip Away, leaving \$14 to go on Jatz, which won the race. Total bet, then, was \$20 for a return of \$29.50.

There was a loss of \$20 on the second, and there was no bet in the third race because it was simply too wide open outside the favourite, Destroyer's Image. In the fourth race, Slight Chance was too short at 1/2 to bother with the race, and in the fifth race Skating was at even money, with Burst 2/1 and there again little room for decent profits.

The sixth, though, saw Palatin favourite at 3 / 1, with the savers being Big Dreams (7/2) and Instrumental (9/2). The bets on the savers were \$6 on Big Dreams and \$4 on Instrumental, leaving \$10 to go on Palatin at 3/1. Palatin won with the return being \$40, for a profit of \$20.

In the last race, My Arctic Blue was hogging the market at 5/4, once more leaving little room for a good profit to be made. It has to be emphasised that when you are betting like this, you must be able to secure a fair price about your main fancy. In fact, any short-priced horses need to be avoided if necessary.

At Doomben, in the first race, the favourite was Nictate at 3/1, and the savers were Purple Elegance at 7/2 and Little Mountain at 5 / 1, for bets of \$6 and \$4, leaving \$10 for Nictate at 3/1, for a return of \$40, and a profit of \$20.

The second race saw Calatinska the main bet at 5/2, with the savers being Strawberry Way at 9/2 and Skyline Lover 12 / 1. The saver bets were \$4 on Strawberry Way and \$2 on Skyline Lover, leaving \$14 for Calatinska, which won, thus returning \$49 for a profit of \$29.

You can see from these examples how effective the Connolly Saver Approach can be - as long as you demand decent prices! Don't get sucked into backing the short-priced conveyances. If you're shooting only for a relatively small overall profit on your main chance, you should think again.

A \$10 profit on a \$20 bet, or a general 50 per cent profit on outlay, is probably the safest way to go. If you were investing, say, \$50 per race, you should ensure that your No. 1 horse will return you at least a \$25 profit.

Let's look at this angle: Your main horse is 5/2. The savers are 4/1 and 5/1. That means your saver bets, to make a slight percentage on each, would be \$12 on the 4/1 chance and \$10 on the 5/1 saver. That leaves you \$28 to be placed on the 5/2 chance for a total return of \$98, a profit of \$48. This is acceptable.

But let's say your main fancy was an evens chance, and your savers were 3/1 and 5/1. The savers would be bet for \$17 on the 3/1 shot, and \$10 on the 5/1 chance, a total of \$27, leaving you \$23 for the bet on your even-money main chance. The most you could get back from the evens chance would be \$46 - a loss of \$4. The bet is a no-no.

As long as you didn't try to work this method on too many races, and in races where the prices are prohibitive, you should be able to make some nice profits. Your losing runs will be kept to a minimum because you'll be betting three horses per race, and you are going for the biggest win on your strongest choice.

A friend of mine, who has operated in this fashion for more than 20 years, tells me he rarely goes more than two races without striking a winner. He bets on about four or five races per day, on each of which he has spent a fair amount of time studying the form in some detail.

"I leave little to chance," he says. "That means I can expect to score 30 per cent of the time at least with my No. 1 selections, and 60 per cent of the time with my savers. It all works out very well, and I never have a moment's loss of sleep worrying about long losing runs.

"I steer clear of hot favourites, and if any race has a question mark over it, I just give it a miss. I'm in no hurry to bet on questionable races because there are more than enough of the bettable kind. But most important of all, I weigh up the odds very carefully. I want them in my favour as much as possible."

NEXTMONTH: We take a searching look at each-way betting, bringing you the views of some of PPM’s top experts. When is it wise to bet each-way? When should you back for a win only?