The handling of your money at the racetrack, or in a TAB agency, is as important as the selections you make. This is the view of most serious punters, particularly professional punters who have to grind out a profit week after week.

Mind you, without that most important commodity - winners! Talk of money management is strictly academic, isn't it? But make no mistake, poor money handling can turn even the best of selection methods into real losers. Many punters go to the track, or their TAB, with the bare minimum of capital, hoping to strike a bonanza big enough to finance some truly significant bets in the future. If the bonanza, by some stroke of fortune, comes along it is often frittered away through more bad money management.

How many times have you said to yourself that you'll have 10 dollars on a horse because the return of, say, $60 will enable you to have a big bet on your major fancy in another race? Invariably, the $10 horse will fail, leaving you with less money to put on the good thing!

One loose bet leads to another and before you know it, you are well and truly chasing your tail! What, then, can a bettor of modest means do to maintain his chosen endeavour and show a decent profit over the long haul?

There are many answers, just as there are many ways of selecting horses (you try counting them!), so there are many ways to control your betting capital. But just as you must adhere to the rules of a system, you have to stick to the rules of a staking method. Staking is, after all, only the control of your money, a way to successfully handle your capital.

Some of you may now be groaning that you are going to be hit with another progressive betting method. You know, the ones that always seem to work on paper but rarely in practice.

The approach I am putting forward is based on patience. This means waiting for the proper plays, even if it means having just one bet a day, or one bet a week.

Most of us, though, cannot wait in this way. There are many, many punters who fear missing a winner so much that they are frightened to let one selection pass them by! They tend to remember the 'ones that got away' in the past and cost them money.

But patience, according to the method to be presented here, is the resistance of that awful impulse to bet too much. To begin this method, you must determine firstly the maximum amount you can assign to the venture. This depends on your personal finances.

Maybe it will be $100, or $200, $500 or even $1,000. I realise most Punters are battlers and that they do not have vast reserves of cash at their beck and call. So in drawing up the staking I have used $200 as the bank total.

The very basic amount necessary to begin with is $200 and we divide this by 40. The result is $5, and this becomes our basic bet to commence but, as we all know only too well, trying to make good money with $5 bets is a tough, virtually impossible, task. So the aim of The Patient Factor is to boost that basic stake as quickly as possible.

I have chosen 40 as the dividing factor because it gives you a lot of leeway. You are betting 2.5 per cent of your bank, which allows for 40 straight losers. Also, if you haven't made a profit after 40 races then the profit is most unlikely ever to arrive!

It is a very conservative amount to bet, whether it's on a $200 bank or a $20,000 bank. My figures rely on the bettor having a very selective approach to betting, with the chance of striking around the 25 to 30 per cent mark with winners. Tough, but not impossible, if you stick with good horses high in the market.

What you are seeking for your first goal is a profit of $40 on your $200 bank; that is, 20 per cent. When this is achieved, you can 'up' your bets to $6, which is still 2.5 per cent but of the new $240 bank and not the initial $200 bank. You are starting to get serious!

To build up your betting, you have to continue to plough profits back into the capital. Your next target is 20 per cent of $240 which is $48, so when your bank reaches $288, you then move into a higher betting figure again - this time 2.5 per cent of $288, giving you a bet of $7 (rounded off).

If you can hit with that high strike rate, and command healthy starting prices or TAB divvies, you will start to look good once you have been betting for some months.

When you get up to a high basic bet, say $20, you should then decide on the tactic of stopping betting for the day once you have achieved a profit. If you had $20 on a 5/2 chance and it won you would be winning $50 - you could happily shut up shop for the day with 250 per cent profit!

It isn't easy, naturally, to decide to stop betting when you've just copped a decent collect. But, as many a pro will tell you, it is a sensible idea, taken on a long-term basis. There will be many more days when you would have blown the profit rather than increased it!

The patience I talk about should be part and parcel of your daily betting life. You may or may not like the staking plan I have just outlined but I hope that, at the very least, it may have given you food for thought.

Those of you who like playing safe might still not be keen on the approach I have recommended. If so, why not consider a multiple approach, betting for a win on one horse and saving on two others in the same race? A pal of mine works this with newspaper tipping polls and reports that he does very well, thank you.

The idea is simple enough. The top pick in the poll is backed with 50 per cent of whatever money you have decided on for each race. The savers are backed with 25 per cent each, thus making up the total 100 per cent bet. Let's say you have $50 per race. You would place $25 on the No 1 choice and $12.50 on each of the other two. (In this instance you should round off the savers to $13 each).

This method can work very well indeed, because statistics show that the first three in the tipsters' polls do pick up a lot of races, so your losing runs will be few, your wins far exceeding your losses.

Again, though, this is a method that requires a degree of patience. Do you bet on every race on the card - or choose a couple, or three, to bet? It might be wise to check out the type of races which produce the most consistent results from the top 3 in the polls; you could then bet accordingly.

Firstly, make sure you have a bank. Decide how much per race you want to bet and then multiply that by, say, 50. So, if you are betting $20 per race (that's $10 on the No 1 pick, $5 win on the other 2) you will need a $1,000 bank.

And, no, I don't recommend you play 'safe' by backing eachway. The place bets, though they will feed you returns, will never make up for the returns you'll get overall from your win only bets. Back in 1989, we ran a survey on this aspect of things in P.P.M. and the results showed that by betting win only a profit of $128 was made on a series of 4 races, while using win and place the profit was only $91 - a difference of 30% in the profit return.

Further tests were done after the original article appeared, and this same trend continued, proving time and again that it was better to endure a losing run with winners and then score rather than keep on getting little returns from placers.

In the end, the win approach returned a lot more profit. As for which races to bet: Here I recommend safety first. My experience tells me the best races for consistent results are going to come from the Open Handicaps, Welters, Weight-For-Age and 3YO Classics. Ignore all the rest.

Take, for example, the Eagle Farm meeting of May 21. At this meeting, you would have operated on four races only, and you would have made a profit on three of them. In the Association Cup (race 4) the loss (using a $40 per race approach) was $40; the Grand Prix saw a profit of $90 from the win of Sky Watch at 13/2; the Metropolitan saw a profit of $60 from the 'saver' bet on Antwerp at 9/1 and then there was a small profit of $15 on the final race, the Fosters Lager Hcp, via the 'saver' win of Loud Speaker.

In all, then, a total of $160 outlaid for a profit overall of $125, or 78 per cent on turnover.

At Moonee Valley on the same day, there were three races on which to bet and it was break even. Then at Randwick there was just one race on which to bet and this saw a $40 loss.

Total bets for the day were 8 races, or $320, and the profit was $85, or 26.5 per cent on turnover. This was achieved despite a wipeout on one race at Randwick and that break even at the Valley.

This is a form of betting which bears thinking about a great deal. You don't have to bet at three meetings, of course. You can decide which ones perform the best and restrict yourself. Maybe you see that the tipsters are doing better at the Brisbane meetings? Well, bet Brisbane.

A recent survey showed the following results from the tipsters' polls in the various States for Saturday meetings:

StateTotal Races1st Pick WinsWins in 3

We can see that the overall strike rate with the No 1 selections is a respectable 26 per cent, while the strike rate from the first 3 selections is 52.3 per cent. That means, just over one race in two is a hit with the first three picks. You can, of course, use your own selections to work this method.

Click here to read Part 2.

By Richard Hartley Jnr