Some ground rules to kick off this article: there’s no sense in trying to bet trifectas on every race, and no sense in backing too many  horses at short prices.

So that’s out of the way. What I want to discuss is how to bet on trifectas to give yourself the best chance of making some money on a long-term basis. To do this you WILL need to hit several very large trifectas in the course of 12 months.

Little fish are sweet but you’ll always remain hungry. You always need to pig out on a big meal for contentment.
Let’s look at the first steps that are worth remembering:

  • Never bet in a race where you cannot limit the WINNING chances to four or fewer.
  • Never bet in a race where you cannot limit the PLACE chances (including the win chances) to 10 or fewer.
  • A staple bet can be 4 x 10 x 10. That is, the four winning chances to run 1st/2nd and the others all in to run 3rd.
  • The cost for this approach is $48 for 50c units (to work out the bet it goes 4 x 3 x 8 equalling 96 combinations).

Take another example. Let’s say you select three horses to win and have seven place chances, including the trio you have chosen as likely winners. Once again you take the top three for 1st/2nd and then have seven in for the 3rd placing (actually five if you get the first two home).

  • The bet is 3 x 3 x 7 equalling 30 combinations. That’s $15 for 50c units.
  • You are relying on your three main chances to fill 1st and 2nd.

There are four fresh horses in the seven you have bet for 3rd place.

There are one or two important points about the two plays. I have stated earlier that we don’t want to bet too many horses which are short in the betting. That’s right, but the reality is that we do have to make provision for them somewhere in the combinations.

If your selections to run 1st and 2nd contain NONE of the first four pre-race favourites, or none of the first three in the tipsters’ poll (the most favoured of the tipsters), then I suggest you pass up the race.

What I am basically saying is this: One of the four selections must be either in the first four in the betting, or in the first three of the tipsters’ poll, or both. You will be totally out of whack with the “crowd” unless you follow this rule.

The “crowd” gets it right a lot of the time. Ignore this reality and over a period of time you are likely to lose badly.
The merit of the 4 x 10 x 10 approach is that you are betting quite logically. If you are serious minded enough and approach your form analysis with great caution and commonsense, there will be enough races where you can narrow the chances down like this.

What you are doing is to bet maybe two or three trifectas over a weekend rather than have 10 or more bets all over the place.

How to find the selections? Well, use your own racing brain or adopt a systematic approach. What about the following?

  • Take the runner that is 4/1 or closest to 4/1 in the pre-post market.
  • Take the pre-post favourite.
  • Take the poll favourite if it’s different to the pre-race favourite.
  • Take your own selection or selections.

If you get selections from A and B that leaves you with two choices to make for the top four to run 1st/2nd/3rd. Plenty of opportunity to throw in some value runners.

I often get letters from readers asking me about trifectas and how best to cash in on them. There IS an approach I use myself from time to time and when it comes off the payouts are spectacular.

The idea is to link two races together in a trifecta all-up bet. Of course, it requires you to win both trifectas to pull off the bet.

The initial bet is not too much and depends on how many runners there are. I will assume we have a 14 horse field. You pick two horses to run 1st/2nd and you throw in the remainder of the field for 3rd.

So the bet would be:

AB//AB//FIELD. In the 14-horse field you would have 12 of the 14 runners for 3rd. The cost of this bet is only $24 for $1 units.

Now, let’s assume you strike the trifecta and it pays $200. You now re-invest this entire amount on the next trifecta bet you have, and let’s assume it’s the same sort of bet as the first race but instead you have a 12-horse field.

The same combination is used so the bet is 2 x 2 x 10, costing $20 for $1 units. But you have $200 to bet so you can take each combination 10 times!

Should you strike a trifecta paying, say, $150, your return is $1,500. Your original outlay was only $24.

You need only a handful of such returns over the course of a year to make your trifecta betting ledger look very healthy indeed!

The approach can be adopted using whatever method of trifecta combination you like. It’s not necessary to follow the AB/AB/Field linkup.

A reader named Bill from Campbelltown wrote to me some time ago and his problem was that he could rarely get his picks in a race, for trifecta purposes, down to less than seven a race. How, he asked me, would I go about playing a minimum of seven selections?

Well, that many key selections is simply too many so a way has to be found around using them all. To link all seven in each of the three placings (7 x 7 x 7) would cost $210 (the workout is 7x 6 x 5). This is a risky approach, and you’d be shaking in your boots if you hit a streak of losers.

My idea would be to use five of them for 1st/2nd and use the whole seven of them for 3rd. The bet is actually:
ABCDE//ABCDE//ABCDEFG costing $100 for $1 units, or $50 for 50c units.

The work out is 5 x 4 x 5. Easy enough, then, to understand the combinations aspect of the bet.

But $100 is a lot of money to throw on one race. However, if you were choosy and didn’t try to crash too many races, it might work out, but you would need to hit a few BIG divvies over the course of a year.

The next trifecta idea is a useful one because it’s a systematic approach to the selection process. The idea was forwarded to me by Gerald from Launceston. He’s been a most prolific letter writer to me and other PPM contributors for some time and often comes up with some excellent betting ideas.

His idea for major races and although he never said so I think he was talking about the big Open Handicaps like the Epsom, Newmarket, Doncaster and so on, is as follows:


  • The pre-race favourite.
  • The two runners in barriers #1 and #2.
  • The Field.

His plan is a 3 x 3 x Field bet

Depending on the size of the field this could be a small bet or a large bet.

Let’say there were 18 runners. You have the pre-race favourite and the runners in the first two barriers. They are in for 1st/2nd and for 3rd along with the remainder of the field. The bet then is worked out as 3x 2 x 16 equalling $96 for $1 units, or half that for 50c units.

The potential is there for a big collect provided you can nail an outsider among the top three.

And nailing those longshots is what trifecta betting is all about. You really do need to get the roughies at least into 2nd or 3rd in order to strike big enough returns to cover your outlay over a season’s betting.

You are not too interested in small returns. Many times they will hardly cover the cost of your bet, and long-term that’s no use to you. A profit is needed, hopefully in the 20 per cent or more area over 12 months.

NEXT MONTH: More ideas on betting trifectas and how to bet $25 or under in your combinations.

Click here to read Part 2.

By Jon Hudson