"There is only one way to attack doubles," the old pro said to me back in the late '70s. Find your main chances, no more than three in a leg, price them as best you can, and bet the value."

I knew he knew what he was talking about. After all, he'd made a living from doubles for goodness knows how long and when he died, just five years ago, he died a reasonably wealthy man.

What this chap discovered, all those years ago, has been further expounded on by Don Scott in his best-selling books. Scott firmly made the point about seeking value, and backing value. Yet, as I look around at my fellow punters on racetracks and in TAB agencies, I see them all ignoring the advice.

Well, I guess it can be complicated to sit down and work out the value of various combinations. Figures, statistics, calculations - they frighten a lot of punters. They prefer to just look at the form, go for a hunch, or follow a tip.

Fair enough. Good tips are priceless. If you can win following them, then that's great. But there can be much more to betting than that. There's the intellectual challenge. We all love that here at P.P.M. It's the never-ending mystery of it all that forms the lure.

So, if you're attacking the daily or extra doubles, or you just want to link horses in all-up bets, the idea is to (a) take your time with your form analysis, (b) work out the 'true' price of each of the horses you have chosen and (c) check expected prices to determine if there is a reasonable chance of value.

If there is, then it's full steam ahead. If you're deadly serious, then you will want to narrow down the chances in each leg to as low as one or two, or at the most three. If you can't do that it would be a signal the race is too tough to consider. Give it away, and wait for another day.

The ideal is to find a banker in one leg and two or three chances in the other. This provides you with a nice looking double. You are as CERTAIN as you can be in your own mind that you have one double leg all sewn up; now you can link the special with two or three prime prospects in the second leg.

Let's say you assess your good thing at 6/4. The pre-post price is 3/1, and you fancy there's a good chance it might even get to around the \$4.50 mark on the tote (7/2). That's okay, the value is really there.

Now you pick your two horses in the second leg. If you assess them at 2/1 each and they are priced at that level or above then that's fine.

To see what price your doubles each offer you merely add one to each price and multiply them.

HORSE A 6/4 x HORSE B 2/1 means (1.5 + 1) x (2 + 1) - in other words 2.5 x 3 which gives you a return on the double of 7.5 units, or odds of 13/2. The same value applies to the HORSE A/HORSE C double.

If you are betting with a bank of, say, \$50 you will have \$25 on each double.

In reality, of course, you are looking at better collects. If Horse A really starts at 3/1 and Horses A and B also start at 3/1, then if you hit a winning double the odds returned are going to be around 15/1 (for a \$16 collect on an initial \$1 double: \$4 back from Horse A going into Horse B at 3/1, returning you \$12 plus your own \$4).

At \$25, that means you collect 25 x \$16, a total of \$400. You have achieved a huge value collect, scoring 15/1 about a double you had priced at 13/2.

This is what I mean by securing value. If you don't wish to work out 'true prices' yourself, then you can operate such a method by simply applying the pre-post prices when assessing the doubles.

You might, say, have a total of four doubles which on pre-post prices are paying (returning) 8/1, 10/1, 12/1 and 14/1. You find your actual stake (say \$50) and divide the prices into that figure to determine a stake for each double.

Initial calculation:
(a) 8/1 = \$6.50
(b) 10/1 = \$5.00
(c) 12/1 = \$4.50
(d) 14/1 - \$3.50

Total \$19.50. Then divide that figure into \$50, and you will find that you should multiply each of the above bets by 2.56 to take the total stake up to 50.

That is, the 8/1 combination is bet for \$16.50, the 10/1 combination is bet for \$13, the 12/1 combination is bet for \$11.50 while the 14/1 linkup is bet for \$9. This makes a total bet of \$50.

Should the 8/1 double win your profit will be \$82. And similarly with the others: \$80 on the 10/1 bet, \$88 on the 12/1 combination and \$86 for the 14/1 double. (This assumes, of course, that the doubles actually return what the prices indicate on the TAB; they could return more, or less).

This is a solid way to come to grips with doubles betting. Next issue we will look at more ways to do it.