Many years ago, a Chicago professional punter professed to make a good living by following the selections of a tipster in the Daily Racing Form. But he never followed them blindly.

This man realised that his favourite tipster was a good judge, but he also knew that to make money from his tips he had to eliminate many of his 'bad' selections.

His formula was to apply a series of elimination factors to each selection. If a tip survived this process, it became a bet. The formula was rigorous.

As outlined in a weekly racing newsletter of the time (the 1960s), the better looked for convincing form, correct Class placement and, most importantly, the discarding of poor performances.

Firstly, he pored over the form of each selection and struck out every race where the horse was decisively beaten.

He was then, of course, left with only the horse's GOOD performances, the ones that clearly indicated what he could do, rather than what he couldn't do.

"The trick is to learn which races have no legitimate place in the horse's chart," wrote the bettor. "You need to know when to strike them out.

"If a horse is passably consistent, a poor race following a good recent effort may be accepted, in certain circumstances, as a conditioning race, run purely for the purposes of giving the horse a run to get fit.

"So I would just strike it out as not being representative of the horse's overall ability."

Once the bettor had gone through the form of the good performances, he was in a position to be able to determine if the tip was worth backing.

Did he look at other runners in the race? Oddly enough, no. His reasoning was that if he were to do that he may as well forget the entire approach.

"I am interested in one man's opinion, a man I respect, and I assume he's done the form analysis on the other runners," wrote the man. "So I don't bother. If I am satisfied with his selection, then it's good enough to back it."

This approach can easily be used for race betting in modern-day Australia. There is certainly no shortage of tipsters in the various newspapers, magazines and formguides, as well as those on radio and TV It's a smorgasbord of the good, the bad and the indifferent.

You should examine a collection of tipsters over an extended period, just to see who can deliver the winners regularly.

You might feel there's a good case to be made out for following a tipster like Andre Kassay of the Sportsman. He enjoyed a very good season's tipping, even ending up with a small profit on turnover.

It all depends on how much you trust a tipster to be consistent. The ones to avoid are those who might tip five winners on a day and then go four or five weeks without even picking a winner! (Yes, it happens a lot.)

Once you've picked your tipster, it's a matter of up, up and away. Jot down each selection he makes (top selections, that is). Get out your formguide. Go through the form. Delete the races that you can determine are poor and which don't reflect the horse's true ability.

Look carefully at the remaining races in the horse's recent form. How good were they? If the horse won, did it win with authority in the right Class of race? If it lost, was it a bit unlucky? Was it suited by conditions, and so on.

If you feel the horse has what it takes to win the race, bet on it. If there are doubts, cast it aside. More often than not, your judgement will be proven to be correct.

Sure, you miss a winner or two, but at the same time you will avoid backing a great many losers.

There is, of course, a final aspect to this approach. The horse's available price. You need to determine if it represents value. If it doesn't, then think seriously about passing the race.

You really need to examine this issue most carefully. Poor value bets are going to lead you nowhere; in fact, you'll end up going backwards.

Go for those tips that are at value prices. Probably, ignore anything at less than 6/4 unless you are 100 per cent sure the skinny price is worth taking.

This entire approach's potential depends on the worth of the tipster you choose to do the selecting for you. Get it right and you'll do well; pick the wrong one and you'll be out the back door with the seat out of your pants!

So before you embark on betting with your cash, do some serious research on the tipsters.

By P.B. King