Although they are extremely popular, quinellas are probably the least understood of all the exotic bets. Many canny professionals make a living from quinellas, while the average punter loses his money on them.

It's all a matter of knowing how to bet them. They can provide the careful and astute punter with some generous returns. Knowing how much a quinella pairing is going to pay is most useful for the dedicated Q Fan.

On-course punters at most major tracks have the advantage of seeing expected quinella dividends on the track TV monitors. Some TAB agencies offer a similar service, but not all of them do. This means off course punters, in the main, bet blind on quinellas (and trifectas, etc. too come to that).

If you do not have access to quinella dividends, you can use a speedy 'rule of thumb' to give yourself a rough guide as to the likely payout. All you do is look at the expected win dividends of the 2 horses you are going to link. You round them off to the nearest dollar, then multiply them and divide by 2.

For example: Horse A is paying $4.70, Horse B is paying $8.20. That means you multiply 5 x 8 which gives you 40. This is then divided by 2, and the answer is 20. The quinella, then, will probably pay around the $20 mark for $1 (give or take a dollar or two either way).

As with any exotic bet form, your selections have to be good if you are to have hope of long-term success. If you can carefully get rid of the non-value runners, you can reduce your outlay and thus raise your long-term profit expectations.

The first approach any punter should consider is the Quinella Saver idea. This is used to back up a strong win bet. Let's assume you fancy Horse A and intend backing it for a win. The only logical danger is Horse B.

You back your top selection to win then couple it in a quinella with the danger. If you know what the likely divvie is going to be you can bet the quinella to 'save' your win stake, and even add in some profit as well. The beauty of this approach is that your win bet and the quinella may both win.

On the opposite tack, there's always the prospect that your danger horse could win and your main bet be 3rd! But you have to accept that as part and parcel of racing.

Let's look at an example of how this Quinella Saver approach can work.

Your win bet is Horse A at 3/1 ($4.00 TAB). The danger is Horse B at 5/1 ($6.00 TAB). You bet $50 to win on Horse A. Now you want to 'save' on the quinella. By multiplying the expected win dividends (4 x 6) and dividing by two, you can reasonably expect the quinella to pay $12. Thus you know that you will need to place at least $4 and probably $5 on the quinella. A $5 bet on the quinella could return you around $60. Assuming your Horse A didn't win, but the quinella B-A got up, you would have spent $55 on the race and got back $60, for a small profit.

But if Horse A won and Horse B ran 2nd, you would pick up a total of $200 from the win bet and another $60 from the quinella, giving you a total return of $260 for an outlay of $65.

Of course, the Quinella Saver does not have to be restricted to one other runner. You can link your banker horse with several dangers - a very attractive way of going if your banker is under the 4/1 mark.

Using 'banker' horses is probably one of the best angles with quinella betting. If you can price your horses well and bet only when there is value, you will be well on the way to success.

For example: You price your top selection at 2/1 ($3.00 TAB) and you see with some excitement it is paying $5.00 with just a minute or two to go. Now you look at the three dangers you want to link with it.

Horse B you have priced at 3/1. It is over the odds at $9.00. Horse C you have priced at 4/1 but it is paying only $2.40. No value there. Horse D you have priced at 5/1 and it is paying $11 - plenty of value.

Your bets then are to link the 'banker' selection, Horse A, with the two value runners from the three danger horses. That is, A with B and A with D. You ignore the A-C quinella because C is under its true odds. Using our quinella formula, you can reasonably expect the 2 quinellas to be paying around $22 for A and B, and $27 for A and D.

You can bet these quinellas to return you $100 profit by placing $5 on A-B and $4 on A-D.

This is one sensible way to approach your quinella hits. You need to get your own 'true' prices for each horse and this takes time, but in the long run it's worth the time and trouble.

By Jon Hudson