Just one winner in 10 bets and you're safe? It can be done. The idea isn't new, it's just that, in the mayhem of modern racing, it tends to be forgotten.

The '1 in 10' Plan is aimed at those of you who can pick one winner in 10 at a reasonable price. Doesn't sound too hard, does it?

There is a simple step-by-step staking plan to use and you should never get into too much trouble. The recommended staking steps for a series are:

1-1-1-1-2-2-3-4-5-6

This calls for a total outlay of 26 units over 10 bets. If you have five bets a week, that's action for two weeks. Most of you, I know, will have more than five bets every seven days! It doesn't matter how short the period of time; what does matter is that you strike that good priced winner.

Each loser in a series takes you on to the next stage in the progression but if you strike a winner, and a profit is shown, you rule off the series and begin again.

At the various stages of this progression plan, a win would return (at an average of 4/1) 400%, 250%, 66%, 25%, 40%, 25%, 36%, 33%, 25% and finally 15%.

If you hit a winner at less than 4/1, you simply keep going with the sequence unless, of course, you find yourself in profit, in which case you close off the series.

Let's say you hit a bad patch and strike seven losers in a row. You are losing 11 units. The next bet is 4 units. The horse wins at 4/1. Your return on the bet is 20 units.

The series, then, shows an outlay of 15 units for a return of 20 units, a profit of 5 units, or 25 per cent on outlay. You rule off the series and start a new one.

If you strike a winner at, say, 3/1 on your fourth bet (\$l), you get a return of \$4 and are square on the series. You then continue from bet five, which is 2 units.

The key point in this staking approach is to be able to hit a good-priced winner once in every 10 bets.

A further example: You have hit eight losing bets in a row. That's a loss of 15 units. On your ninth bet you strike a winner at 5/1. Your bet on it is 5 units and the return on the bet is 30 units.

The series now stands at 20 units bet and 30 units returned, for a profit of 10 units, or 50 per cent.

Had you hit with a 4/1 winner, your return would have been 25 units, and you would have had a profit of 5 units (25 per cent on turnover).

These examples give you a clear idea of how the plan works. It's neat and it doesn't get you into any trouble; at least, no more trouble than you'd be in betting any other way on losers.

What it offers is the chance to speedily get out of trouble provided you get a reasonably priced winner.

What do you do when you get near to the end of a series and you're showing a small loss, despite having backed a winner? Okay, let's use the example above. You are 15 units down and your next bet is 5 units on a 5/2 chance. It wins and your return is 17.5 units. In all, then, you've bet 20 for a return of 17.5 and a loss of 2.5.

You can continue or give the series the closedown sign. It's a matter of how comfortable you feel. Personally, I'd be tempted to rule off and start a new series.

What selections do you use? Well, for starters, don't attempt it race by race. Pick your selections carefully. Maybe two or three bets per meeting, and only one meeting for the day.

Try to ensure a minimum price of 3/1. You can use your own tips, or those of a media tipster, or you could choose the first horse at 3/1 or better in the market. It's a matter of individual choice.

Some punters don't trust their own judgement. Others don't trust anyone else's but their own!

It might be a good idea to test your own tips against those of a few media tipsters over a few weeks, and see who does the best. Whoever comes out on top becomes the tipster for your series.

One word to keep in mind is VALUE. Couple it with as little risk as possible and you will stand a fighting chance of emerging a winner over 12 months of action.

By Damien Whitchurch

PRACTICAL PUNTING - DECEMBER 1999