The success, or failure, of Sydney's big bookie breakthrough could determine the ultimate future of our bagmen. If the idea doesn't work, you can start the countdown for the exodus of bookies from our racing scene.

Since August 1, racegoers at Sydney's four city tracks have been able to take quinella bets with bookies, and back horses for a place only, as well as for win and each-way. The idea was for a trial period on the metropolitan tracks and then to extend the betting throughout New South Wales. Other States will, no doubt, follow Sydney's bold lead if the idea is successful.

Punters who take quinellas with the bookmakers know before the race exactly what they will win if their horses fill 1st and 2nd spots. They are paid out according to a special Table of Odds to which all bookmakers adhere.

Example: If a punter takes a quinella on horses priced at 4-1 and 7-1 on the bookmaker's board, the quinella odds will be 15.7 to 1. So, the punter actually receives back $16.70 for a $1 quinella bet.

The Table of Odds ranges from 1-5 to 100-1. If, two horses run 1st and 2nd at 100-1, the bookies' Table provides for a payout of $5050.

The introduction of separate win and place betting means punters can back a horse with a bookmaker for win only, or for place only. And the punters don't have to back in equal amounts. You can have, say, $20 a win and $50 a place, or vice-versa.

Bookmakers who offer the win and place odds instead of each way prices are framing two separate markets on each race. According to the N.S.W. Bookmakers' Co-operative, Society: "Often the place odds will not be one-quarter or one third of the win odds, as is the case with each-way betting, but will reflect each horse's chance of being placed, and the weight of backing for it."

 Until this innovation, bookies were prevented from offering punters any form of betting other than win and each way. The bookies now are pressing for the opportunity to bet on events like major tennis, golf, football and cricket matches; they want to be able to take telephone bets on-course; they want to offer doubles and trifecta betting and they are calling for a cut in turnover tax.

While many people are happy with the bookie changes, some critics have reservations. Writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, Alan Aitken commented: "While the concessions to place and quinella betting are important breakthroughs for bookmakers, it is notable that quinellas have not been an on-course growth area, dropping from 21 per cent (to 19.5 per cent) of the total investments in 1986-87.

"Place betting, too, is less popular at the track than it seems in TAB agencies away from the course, where each way TAB bets push place betting investments up to the second most popular form of wagering."

Leading Sydney bookie Colin Tidy is among the 15 bookmakers to 'test' the innovations. Describing himself as "very excited" about them, he added: "There is just no way I won't be betting 4-6 the place some things that are evens for the win on the teleprinter, or 6-4 a place some 3-1 chances. I'm really going to give it a go. As far as I'm concerned, it's great to have an opportunity to compete with the tote in an area where it has had a monopoly."

What sort of odds can you expect from the quinella Table? We've compiled some of the dividends to give you an idea of what to expect (incidentally, the bookies have not revealed the calculations used to compute the quinella prices). They make interesting reading.


2-1 x 2-12.0
2-1 x 3-13.2
2-1 x 9-25.1
2-1 x 10-111.7
4-1 x 5-111.2
4-1 x 10-124.6
6-1 x 8-126.5
10-1 X 10-154.0

The place-only aspect of the new betting rules should help many punters. Until now, punters have had to go to the tote if they wanted to bet in separate amounts for win and place.

You might like to follow the lead of many professional punters and bet in the ratio of one win and five place. Under the Sydney rules, you can now do this with the bookmakers.

P.P.M. experts in the last few years have encouraged punters to bet like this, reasoning that if you feel a horse is worth a $10 win bet then you must be prepared to put on three times as much, at least, for a place.

The majority of punters still fail to do this, however, so it will be very enlightening to learn from the bookmakers if their new avenue of betting is being used to any great extent.

By Martin Dowling