Those new to more serious punting may notice an analyst often talks about taking a ‘saver’… so what exactly are they?

The concept of a saver is pretty simple – basically, it’s a smaller stake than you would normally have on a full bet, with the idea being that if the horse wins, you recoup just enough to break even on the race overall.

If your favoured full bet wins, you’ll collect a good profit on the race. But if the saver wins, you’ll collect enough to break even overall. It’s kind of like an insurance policy for the race.

To bet profitably, you’ll need to consistently identify value and take overlays. However, there may also be situations where there’s a horse that you recognise has a good chance of winning, yet a decent overlay isn’t available.

This is one situation where you may opt for a saver on that horse – you’ve still backed your top selection at good value, but this offers you an insurance policy on another horse/s where the value wasn’t available.

Calculating savers is relatively easy – you just need to take into account how much you’re outlaying in total on the race, and ensure a win for the saver covers that. Rod wrote this good guide last year which takes you through the calculation:

So when to take a saver, rather than a full bet or no bet at all? We spoke to Melbourne racing analyst Trevor Lawson about the situations when he might opt for a saver.

If the betting situation ticks off one or more of these factors, it could well be good circumstances for a saver.

1) You’re backing something else

This is the most basic factor – you’re not going to back a saver on their own and make them your only bets for the race! Savers are employed where you’re already on another runner and just want an insurance policy about something else.

2) You don’t have a massive overlay

After you’ve identified your rated price for each horse, you’ll still want a decent overlay on that price to bet in full… simply betting when a horse is right on your rated price doesn’t give you any profit margin. Therefore, if you’ve identified a horse that is a danger to your main bet, but there’s not a sufficient overlay to justify another full bet, you might opt for a saver to cover the chance of the horse winning.

3) Your total outlay on the race is high

You can back as many horses as you like in a race, but only one of them can win. If you’re backing each horse to win, say, five units, then the closer you get to that five units in total outlay, the less your overall profit will be.

If you’re already outlaid a decent amount on your most favoured horse/s, a saver might be a good way to minimise total outlay and maximise profit.

4) It’s a low-percentage play

You might have a decent overlay on a horse, but if we’re talking those at very long odds, it might seem excessive to place a full bet on one or more of the long-shots when the winning percentage is so low.

When odds are high, a saver can be a very cheap way to give you insurance against those rare occasions when the roughie salutes – your favoured runner gets beaten in an upset, but you still break even.

5) You’re unsure what the horse will produce

As hard as you might work on your form and rated prices, sometimes it can simply be impossible to know exactly what a horse will produce when the gates open: a first-up runner off a long break is the classic example.

If the horse produces it’s best, it might be well in calculations… but it’s very hard to be confident that it will. If you’re unsure whether you want to back or oppose a runner, a saver can be a very useful ‘middle ground’ and, once again, a good insurance policy.

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