In about AD 1200, Leonardo Fibonacci, who was an Italian mathematician, identified a series of numbers, or more correctly, a sequence of numbers, which has ever after been known as the Fibonacci sequence.

To put this in a nutshell, each number of the first two must be the sum of the two preceding numbers. (Eh? Don't worry - all will be revealed.)

If you stick with me as we go through this page, I'm absolutely certain that you will feel a lot more confident about sequences and probably you will also feel that systematic racehorse investment just could be harnessed to the laws of nature.

Now, let us have a closer look at what this means. Fibonacci established this strange sequence as mathematical law and nobody in the past 800 years has been able to either disprove its function or, for that matter, explain with 100 per cent certainty why it is so.

So many things in nature, from the number of babies that rabbits have, to the way flowers form their petals, seem to follow this amazing mathematical progress.

So how might we use this to improve our punting?

Let's start at the beginning of the sequence and work through a very simple example. At the beginning of the sequence we have No. 1.

The number following 1 is 2. We simply leave the number one alone because there is no other number to add to it.

So 1 is the first number in the sequence (just accept that if it troubles you).

When we add 1 and 1 we get 2, so 2 is the next number in our sequence. We now have 1, 1 and 2. If we add 1 and 2, we get 3.

So the next number in the sequence is 3. Our sequence is now 1, 1, 2, 3.

If we add 2 and 3 together, we find the next number in our sequence, which is 5.

We will now have to add 3 and 5 together, and this gives us our next number, which is 8. Our numbers now are 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8.

If we add 5 and 8, we will get 13. Then if we add 8 and 13, we will arrive at 21.

Adding together 13 and 21 we will have the next figure in the sequence, which is 34.

Try yourself out on a couple more numbers in the sequence, as it isn't too difficult once you get the hang of it all.

The numbers that we will be concentrating on are 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55 and 89.

This gives us a grand total of 232.

Had we gone on any higher, we would very quickly have escalated our figures into the land of dreams. While 232 is a grand total - very grand as a matter of fact - it is not an unreasonable total if we are dealing with a very secure plan which only focuses on short-priced selections.

Did you notice how many numbers were involved in the sequence?

That's right, there were 11; so if you are dealing with the short-priced commodities it may take you several weeks before you exhaust an 11-bet sequence. Let us say, for example, that we're only dealing with horses which are clear pre-post favourites, and that they are limited to horses which are (a) two full points shorter than the second favourite and (b) no longer than \$2.50 in that market.

So why don't we now take an example of how this ancient mathematical sequence might be used by careful investors to make money on the TAB?

As most of you will be putting your bets on the TAB off-course, it is unlikely tl-[at you will make money if you try to outguess or out-think the final dividends for the win, betting on these short-priced conveyances. However, if you were to make your investments for the place, and if you were very, very patient, this might be exactly the kind of concept that you have been waiting for.

Let us take the hypothetical example of betting for a place only, on horses that were listed pre-post at \$2.50 or less and were two points clear of the second favourite in their particular race. We will use July 20, Sydney: Thorn Park; Melbourne: no bets; Brisbane: no bets; Adelaide: More Action, Shocks.

Now what we do is to bet the Fibonacci method right through a single day's programme, just taking the bets in the order in which they come. You can therefore put your bets on ahead of time just following the sequence. On this particular day there were three selections, and even that might be more than we might usually expect to find with such rigid elimination rules.

Thorn Park paid only \$1.04, but that's better than losing, and while Melbourne and Brisbane had rest days, Adelaide produced three original selections, from which Brandy Cruster was scratched. The other two ran third and first, paying \$1.40 on each occasion.

The Fibonacci bets would therefore have been 1, 1 and 2. Your first reaction may be that to get back \$5.24 for an outlay of \$4 is not something to shout from the treetops. Well, if you can find a bank that will give you 31 per cent tax-free, then go ahead and forget Fibonacci and for that matter forget most racing plans.

If the Fibonacci plan is losing at the end of your day's activities, you would have to make a choice whether you are going to continue with the sequence or go back to square one when the next racing day comes around.

By The Optimist

PRACTICAL PUNTING - SEPTEMBER 2002