There are still a number of professional punters who concentrate on Daily Doubles, despite the fact that doubles seem to be taking a secondary role to trifectas and tote all-ups lately.

There have been many and varied approaches talked about in relation to doubles. Truth is that many doubles are not worth taking. The odds on offer make the risk a dubious one. Professionals seek value all the time. They usually wait until both legs of a double can be trimmed down to a small number of true chances. Then the pro assesses the likely lowest divvy for each double. If they believe there is true value, that's when they bet.

What they do is weigh up the risk against return. If the return doesn't equate with the risk, they simply wait for another race. The off-course punter doesn't have the advantage of knowing what divvy he is going to receive. The oncourse punter is in a far better position to take doubles. He can have a win bet on the first horse of his choice, and then wait and see what prices are available on his second leg choices, thus putting himself in the position of being able to outlay varying amounts according to price from the returns on his first winner.

In general, the TAB punter can only work on pre-race prices. He just works out the likely dividend from those. He may like A at 5--1 in the first leg and B at 8-1 in the second leg. A dollar on A at 5-1 would give a return of $6 to go on to B at 8-1. A win by B would make the double worth a total of $54, or odds of 53-1.

My advice is that you work out a number of horses in each leg of a double. You might fancy four in the first leg, and three in the second leg. This gives you 12 doubles. Let's say your first leg horses are 2-1, 6-1, 8-1 and 10-1. Your second legs are 2-1, 4-1 and 10-1.

Their likely returns are as follows: 8-1,14-1, 32-1, 20-1, 34-1, 76-1, 26-1, 441, 98-1, 32-1, 54-1 and 120-1. Very attractive indeed.

Mat you now need to do is decide which ONE double is your best. This is the one on which you ~ you have the best chance of a return. Once you have found this, you can then back all the other doubles as 'savers' and plonk the rest of your money on your No 1 double.

Okay, I'll assume that you think your best chance is with the 2-1 chance in the first leg into the 4-1 chance in the second leg. This is a 14-1 double. You can now back the rest of the doubles as your savers. Let's assume a $50 bank All the other doubles are to be backed to return you your stake of $50.

That means the following outlays: $6, $1.50, $2.50, $1.50, $1, $2, $1.50, 50c, $1.50, $1 and 50c. This is a total of $19.50. If any of these doubles comes up you will have saved your stake, in some cases with a few dollars over. You now have $30.50 to place on your prime 14-1 double. If this came up you would have a total return of $457.50 on your outlay of $50, for a profit of $427.50.

What you should do when assessing likely doubles dividends, however, is to under-estimate them. Be conservative. So if your pre-race prices are, say, 3-1 into a 4-1, you should assume it is a 2-1 into a 3-1. This can pay off, with some bonus divvies falling your way.

You will not need a big betting bank to kick off with this method of doubles play. Stick to two doubles per day and you will need only $100 if you bet to a $50 bank each double, or $50 if you prefer the smaller $25 per double play.

Another popular method of hitting doubles is to go for the marginal approach. You select two races which can be scaled down to only. three possible chances in each leg, but the favourite is not to be at 6-4 or lower in the betting. You place three units a win on each of your three horses in the first leg. If one of them wins, the total amount collected is split into equal portions on the three selections in the second leg.

Two winners at only 2-1 will bring you out even. You do need to be selective in your approach, but if you are careful and don't attempt the bet on too many races, you will have a really good time, assuming your selections are okay.

You could follow the tips of your favourite newspaper selector. Maybe you like Bart Sinclair in Brisbane. You select the sixth and eighth races at Doomben on December 19. Bart's first three selections in the sixth are Our Roman Consul (3-1), Jaffle's Joy (5-1) and Terrible Beauty (10-1). In the second leg he has Mighty Grey (2-1), Savoy Truffle (6-1) and My False Start (6-1).

In the first leg, Terrible Beauty won at 10-1, giving you a return of 33 units. These are now split three ways into the second leg trio. Mighty Grey won at 6-4. You had 11 units on him at 6-4, giving you a total return of 27.50 units. On your initial outlay of nine units then, you have got back 27.50 for a profit of 18.5 units-a wonderful day.

To do this type of double, you must be prepared to bet as you go, either on.course, by telephone, or computer (see Practical Punting Annual 1988 for a great article on how to place your bets by computer).

These are just some thoughts on approaching the task of betting on doubles. I am sure that if you follow them they will give you a lot of pleasure and profit. But, always remember, do not bet unless there is value afoot Go for skinny divvies and you'll end up in trouble.

By Statsman