Any punter wanting to adopt a multiple-betting form of attack should remember that care is required - and so is modesty.

The old saying 'small profits, quick returns' applies to this style of betting. If three or more horses are backed at even long odds the 'actual' price to the punter shortens dramatically.

So the punter has to have initiative and quick wits to operate such a method successfully. You do need to strike a big average of winners to have any chance in the long term.

The secret of the multiple systems going for a big bet on your first fancy and merely covering your losses, with a slight profit, on your other fancies. The other way is to back your 'other chances' to save and put the rest of the bank on the main chance.

To presume to back three or four runners in a race and win heavily whichever of the selections wins would be a bit absurd. Take the example of Bay (3/1), Grey (7/2) and Chestnut (9/1). Taking the odds to \$1 about each of this tri the punter is accepting 3/1 ON Bay, 2/1 ON Grey and 7/3 Chestnut.

But what if the punter decides to use the approach of going for the win on one of the horses and saving his total stake on the other two? The formula for doing this is as follows: You merely add one to each price and then divide that sum into the total stake to discover how much to invest on your savers. The balance of the stake is then placed on the main choice.

This is a good method providing you concentrate on races which will enable you to select a high percentage of winners. By a slight alteration to this method you can bet to win on all three runners, going for a decent profit on your first choice and a slight percentage gain on the other two.

The formula for this is just as simple as the previous one, the only difference being that in making your saver bets you do NOT add one to the price, you merely divide by the actual price. This formula can, of course, be applied to as many runners as prices permit.

Let's look at an example. You have chosen three horses in a race. Your main choice (Sugar) is at 3/1, your savers are going to be on Flour (6/1) and Wheat (7/1). Using the first formula, for a straight 'save' on Flour and Wheat, and assuming a bank of \$20, you would add 1 to Flour's 6/1 price, making 7, and add 1 to Wheat's 7/1 price, making 8. Divide 7 into 20 and, rounded off, your bet on Flour will be \$3. Divide 8 into 20 and your bet on Wheat will be \$2.50. That's a total of \$5.50 on the 'savers', leaving you \$14.50 to place on your main choice Sugar at 3/1.

Should Sugar win, your return is \$58, for a profit of \$38. If Sugar loses, and Flour wins, your return is \$21, for a slight profit of \$1. Should Sugar and Flour lose and Wheat win, the return is \$20, a straight 'save' of the bet.

Using the second formula, you would not add ONE to the prices of Flour and Wheat. Instead, you would divide Flour's price (6/1) into 20, giving you a bet of \$3.50 (rounded off). Wheat's price of 7/1 is also divided into 20, giving you a bet, rounded off, of \$3. So you are now betting \$6.50 on the two savers, and placing \$13.50 on Sugar.

The potential return now on Sugar is \$54 (profit \$34), on Flour it is \$24.50 (profit \$4.50) and on Wheat it is \$24 (profit \$4).

Eric Connolly, the renowned professional punter from 60 years ago, used this method a lot. He said: " It 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 down his money in the manner the bookmakers like the least - that is, a keen, carefully calculated approach to making a book against the bookies."

Few punters manage to beat the races by betting one horse per race. The one horse a race professional has to be a person possessing absolutely extraordinary patience and willpower. He has to resist the temptation to bet on any horses other than those he can find in a race in which there is virtually no second best selection.

Small punters may jibe at the multiple form of betting. They will say it's okay for the big punters but will point out that the average punter can't stake the sort of money that's needed.

There is, need I remind you, an old saying that goes 'big trees from little acorns grow' and this applies to every form of human endeavour. A baby learns to crawl before it walks. Many a tycoon has started off with nothing.

It's the same with punting. You can start to use a professional approach by betting in a unit to suit your bank, and if that unit is 50 cents or a dollar, that's fine.

Just because you're a dollar or \$2 punter doesn't mean you have to bet stupidly. You can bet in exactly the same manner as the professionals. Using the multiple method of attack, you will need to be careful when selecting the races on which to bet.

You should not use the method betting race-to-race. That would be suicide. Stick to the better class races, and bet only when you are supremely confident you can nail the winner in three or four choices (try to limit the total to three).

If your judgement is correct you will never suffer a long losing run as a multiple bettor. That's the beauty of the approach. It is open for any punter to use this very slick professional approach.

Use patience and common sense, and don't overbet, and you will be able to make handy profits on a regular basis. Don't forget, you'll have three selections racing for you and whichever wins - you can be a winner or at least your skin will have been saved.

By Statsman

PRACTICAL PUNTING - FEBRUARY 1994