We get such a huge amount of mail from P.P.M. readers that it's an almost impossible task to get around to replying to them. Many readers pose similar questions.

It's amazing how many readers have queries about trifecta combinations, or how the handicapping works in the various States. In this article, I'll answer just a few of the regular type of questions that pop up in your letters.

Q: How does the weight structure work in Victoria?

A: Each State has a slightly different approach. In Victoria, the topweight at the time weights are published must have not less than 57 kgs for all races (flat) and not less than 67 kgs (jumps). The topweight when fields are declared must have not less than 55.5 kgs (jumps 65 kgs). So if a race is left with a topweight of, say, 54 kgs, then weights would be raised so that the topweight carries 55.5 kgs. All weights are raised by that 1.5 kgs. A similar 55.5 kgs scale is used in N.S.W., Queensland has 55 kgs and South Australia and Western Australia 54 kgs. Tasmania has 55.5 kgs.

Q: How does the claim allowance for apprentices work?

A: An apprentice can claim 3 kgs until he/she has ridden 15 city winners. The claim is then reduced to 2.5 kgs until 30 winners, then it becomes 1.5 kgs until 60 winners. After that, the apprentice loses the claim. A different system operates in New Zealand, where apprentices can claim 4.5 kgs up to five wins, then 3 kgs from six to 15 wins.

Q: How can I work out how many combinations there are for a treble, assuming I have a different number of horses in each leg?

A: This is a simple task. You merely multiply the number of selections in each leg. For example, four horses in the first, five horses in the second leg and three horses in the final leg would give you a total of 60 combinations. Or, say, a 5 x 5 x 6 linkup would give you 150 combinations.

Q: Mat are the different multiple combinations I can use for trifecta betting?

A: If you wish to bet in multiple trifectas, and not in 'boxes', you should take a look at chart A on this page. It gives you the cost of various multiple trifecta combinations. Chart B gives you all the prices of combinations for quinellas, trifectas and first four bets.

Q: I am confused about the lists of top sires. I read one day where such-and-such a horse is top sire, and then I read somewhere else that another horse is the top one. Who am I to believe?

A: The confusion arises because there are various lists for the top sires-as follows: Top Sires by Earnings and Top Sires by Wins. At April this year, the leading sires by earnings (that is, the money won by their offspring) were Sir Tristram, Yeats and Imperial Prince. The leading sires by number of winners were Grand Chaudiere, The Pug and Tingo. There also is a section for the leading sires of 2yos by earnings and at April 30, the top sires were Pompeii Court, Marscay and Prego.

Q: I can never understand the ratio of weight to lengths. How do I work it out?

A: The easiest way is to assume that 1.5 kgs is equivalent to one length. Thus, a half length is 0.75 kgs. For smaller margins, assume 0.5 kgs for anything from a head to a long neck. Assume Nil for less than a head margin.

By Brian Blackwell

PRACTICAL PUNTING - OCTOBER 1989