One of the oldest methods of racehorse investment is the quinella. It’s a lot older than you and I, and it makes a lot of sense.

Recently I was going over my past year’s investments, and I was examining the possibility of having backed all my selections each way. As against having twice the investment on the win, the each way possibility fell a long way behind.

However, while the profit would have been reduced, the insurance factor always has to be taken into consideration. There was one sequence of losers that had my teeth on edge, and this could have been greatly relieved had I been betting each way.

I have discussed with you, in the past, the pluses and minuses of each way betting, and the jury is still out. Big thought coming up, so stick with me.

It occurred to me that if I really believed a horse would win a race, or even if I thought that the value offered was such that I must support it, even although it might not be my number one selection, nevertheless I did not expect it to run third.

If I expected to be beaten at all, the likelihood would be that I would be beaten by one other horse. Let me put this another way. If I am relatively confident that my horse will win and the price is right, I will focus very squarely on this potential bet. I would need to be pretty sure, as I said above, that the horse is a likely winner, or will go close.

That’s the flash that went through my brain recently. I believe my selections will win or go close. Americans favour (at least they do in their books) the exacta when getting exotic with their selections, and they “roll the field”. Again I am only going on their major writers, but the quinella or, as some call it, the dual forecast, seems to be the poor relation.

It has always seemed to me that two units on the quinella is a better investment than a reverse bet of one unit each on an exacta. You get double the dividend for the same result, and my limited research has shown that the kinds of horses that I select return me more money this way.

Also, and obviously, you don't have to think about which way around they run. So, using again the American concept of “place” (which means running first or second), why not dispense with the place half of an each way bet and replace it with a quinella of the equivalent value? One possibility for this is to allocate your investment as follows:

$25 each way becomes
$25 win and $25 selection as a field quinella.

The selection is now being insulated against a total loss since it now has to run first or second, with anything filling that other third place which becomes irrelevant. If your selection runs third you lose, and that’s that.

However, if your selection runs first or second, you either get the win and the quinella (first) or just the quinella (second). Looking at the $25 outlay for the place, I’m not sure how successful it would be long-term, but it might just be a bonanza.

You are taking your selection with the field for an outlay of $25 on the quinella. If there are 12 to 15 starters, then in round figures you are going to have $2 on each combination (don’t forget it is simply a matter of checking the number of horses in the race and deducting one from the total; this will give you your cost per unit).

If you are a larger investor, this mode of operation might become even more attractive. In fact, you might consider giving way to some of your win investment, replacing it with this moderate exotic. For example, if it is not outside your range to bet $200 on the race, and your selection is available at 5/1, you might contemplate supporting it to win to the tune of $80 (returning $480 gross).

You might then invest the other $120, which represents 60 per cent of your outlay, on the field quinella ($10 each with a 13 horse field). You might also decide to stagger the quinella according to the chances, as I will do below. Whatever you do, if your horse wins you must win $280 plus your gross return on your quinella investment.

And so, you might decide to allocate your $120 quinella bet on three levels over the 12 other horses: $60 amongst the top four, $40 amongst the next four, and $20 on the four outsiders. Your quinella bets on each combination would be four bets at $15, four more at $10, and the final four at $5 each. That makes $120 for your “quinella insurance”.

You can’t do this at all effectively with a trifecta, and it will cost you a lot more to do it with an exacta at the same level. But I’m thinking that there might be a great deal of logic in allocating your insurance money across the board in quinellas.

How you do it will be an interesting challenge and perhaps some readers could write and tell me what they come up with. But dollar for dollar, I believe there is very strong argument for this alternative method of insuring your win bet.

To conclude, I leave you with this thought: if you really believe the horse will win, and you decide to back it to win, you must think it will go pretty darn close. Common sense? Of course it is. Then why back it to come third?

By The Optimist