Home » Racing & Sport » Pick 6 Couplings – Time For A Rethink?

Pick 6 Couplings – Time For A Rethink?

Close but no cigar - the life story of the Pick6 player

There is an on-going debate as to whether same trainer couplings should be brought back for the exotic bets as in the past.

The rules were changed ostensibly because Stanley Greeff and Andy Smith between them once used to saddle the majority of horses in each PE race where they once reigned supreme.

Fat Cigar bounds home under Kyle Strydom (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

A further rationale was that by removing the couplings, spend would be bigger and exotic dividends would pay more to those who included all the horses from an individual stable, the supporting argument being that this would be countered by fractional betting.

Given the recent plethora of Pick 6 carry overs, I don’t think that argument holds much water, writes Andrew Harrison on www.goldcircle.co.za.

Alan Greeff and Gavin Smith now rule the roost in PE and, although dominant, they do not have as many runners in individual races. In Cape Town the less fancied of the bigger stable’s runners often upstage their more fancied stable companions.

So, the pertinent question is, does an ailing institution like the tote benefit from big payouts to a few, or smaller payouts to more?

The opening leg of Sunday’s Hollywoodbets Scottsville Pick 6 did not have much concrete form to go on but if one was forced to choose between Lezeanne Forbes’s pair of Fat Cigar and Legislate’s Dance for your Pick 6, Fat Cigar would hardly have come into the equation for those with limited spend.

Some food for thought.

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58 comments on “Pick 6 Couplings – Time For A Rethink?

  1. Eric Red says:

    Bring back the COUPLINGS ASAP.

  2. Tex Lerena says:

    Maybe do a “Straight Pick 6 “ and a “Rainbow 🌈 Pick 6” with Couplings – OR do similar payouts like the lotto – if there is a carry over – carry over 50% of the pool – then payout any 5 legs in – if there are no winners any 4 legs in !

  3. Graham Hurlstone-Jones says:

    So what if Greef or Smith have more horses ? good luck to them. To me it highlights how the industry see the punter, so the punter wins, so the punter wins more often ? ( every week a small trainer would grab a few races, not so straightforward ) but that’s good ? Turnover and a sense of fairness even if it is a perception. There was nothing wrong with the P6 it was done to increase pools to compare to the lottery, In what universe did taking the couplings away increase the punters chances ?…….and hear we are. Go look at the P6 pools for the last 2 weeks. Nothing will happen because nothing has changed.

  4. Michael Jacobs says:

    Couplings are definitely an option to be considered to stimulate the exotic pools again. Hiwever, that is not the only option.

    So many great ideas have been put forward yet nothing has been done for years to reinvigorate betting in SA. Innovation and new exotic bets are what is needed. While couplings are a good idea, maybe the pick 6 should be changed to a 50c unit. Even in the US they have a 5c exotic bet! The R1 pick 6 unit is exorbitant for the small punter, and a drop to 50c might work.

  5. Samesh Naidoo says:

    I agree with Tex Lerena

  6. Graeme Hawkins says:

    I feel strongly, and have been suggesting for a while now behind the scenes, that couplings MUST be reintroduced and the unit of betting for the Pick 6 reduced. We had massive pools and many carryovers when the Pick 6 was first introduced (without fractional betting) at a 10c unit. At least then you could as a small punter scoop the pool if you got it right. Now for a 10c outlay you only qualify for 10% of the dividend but back then you could receive a massive payday. For me, couplings in the Pick 6 are an absolute must and the sooner they are reintroduced the better.

  7. Richard mcevoy says:

    50c unit is the way forward. how about two separate pa’s three places and four places for the Bartlett and the less fortunate. richard mcevoy.

  8. Cecil Pienaar says:

    Goeie More. Please also consider a Quick Pick option as well, like the Lotto, especially in Natal. a Popular one would be a R64 with 2 horses in each race. For the smaller punter like me I can play % 👍🏻

  9. Ahmed Shabeer Khan says:

    Bring back the couplings for the benefit of all punters, especially the small punters who support the industry daily, but with limited resources. The fact is a stable will have some knowledge of the horses chances as the blood order is known to the trainers and owners.

  10. Leon Smuts says:

    Agree with Michael. Trying to breathe new life into old ideas don’t work very often. New exotics are needed that address many of the known issues and frequent criticism and adds better value for the punter. A balance must be struck in products with skill better rewarded than purely having a large wallet. Competition in ownership between the smaller stables/owners and larger one’s have always made for good viewing and excitement. The same is needed for the punter and I want to see smaller punters also have a chance to be more competitive. This is easy to incorporate into a product design but not with what we have. Reviving the old instead of real innovation is kicking the can down the road. Real change is needed that will put racing on a completely new and sustainable growth curve. That can only be accomplished by looking after your customers and wowing a brand new market to ultimately achieve mouth watering winnable pools.

  11. Leon Smuts says:

    There are far better ways than couplings to keep interest alive but these ideas have not been given a chance. When eyes are finally opened to the possibilities most punters will be amazed at what can be done from an exotic perspective. We have not yet scraped the barrel in terms of better possibilities and i cannot wait for the day that racing gets its second wind.

  12. Vivian mansour says:

    Speak to Mike Azzie. He had a wonderful idea of a10 cent bet. But no one followed up. It sounded like the perfect answer for all punters.

  13. M(artin)Gram(atica) says:

    Ask Vee Moodley with his pathetic rocket if the removal of couplings has grown or shrunk pools? So 1 winner of a huge payout is seen as positive by the captains of industry? This highlights the chasm between the funders of the game and the ivory towers. How many casino punters would return if they faced the gauntlet that racibg suppirters do?

  14. Ronald says:

    Gone are those beutiful good ol” days when we could at least survive n keep the sport alive.!!

  15. Ordinary Regular says:

    The answer to the “pertinent question” must be that the tote will benefit from smaller payouts to more, thereby stimulating turnover and interest in the game. Bring back the coupling please, or the game will continue to slide backwards into oblivion.

  16. Mrs.E.Johns says:

    My opinion suggest not to couple horses in the place accumulator,jackpot and the pick six fields you gonna lose out on revenue we need big payouts not petty cash if you get my drift and for business purpos

  17. Ronald says:

    Iv been punting from the 1978 , n I used to enjoy n look forward to punting  on the weekends. However ,, in this day and era, not as much as I used to, because everything has changed since then. It just does nt have that vibe it once had. !!

    1. Editor says:

      Ronald Axford

  18. Hamilton says:

    Reduce bet of pick 6 to 50c, and bring back coupling again.

  19. Leon Smuts says:

    Reading the comments sheds light on the magnitude of the problem as there are so many opposing views. Not one of the stated ideas are wrong as they all address issues that stand in the way of success depending on where the emphasis is placed.
    Each tote product has its takers but some are clearly more popular than others depending on your own goals. Crazy as it may seem not everyone gambles to win big as many may just enjoy the excitement of having a runner to follow or winning a bit of fag or booze money. For some its merely a hobby with occasional benefits. Some are hard core (even professional gamblers) and their drivers are very different (value, best fixed odds, structuring your choices into several bets to cover more possibilities). This is the reality for the tote and the dilemma. No one bets is one size fits all.
    The big pay outs and giant pools are just as important as having more winners as they drive different dynamics. One draws attention to racing, another creates more opportunities or a better feeling but they all serve a purpose.
    In a future racing environment these dynamics will play a lead role at re-establishing the sport as mainstream.
    Not one current product ticks all the boxes but certain characteristics will ensure more widescale appeal and popularity and more importantly make it easier to sell racing to new markets.
    The game must be highly entertaining, affordable, winnable even for the R10 punter and give skill an advantage over a fat wallet.
    Growth should come predominantly from more players in preference to merely more spend per player and this will require completely new games that can combine as many of the features as possible to satisfy a wider participation trigger.
    The thinking is too narrow at present and amazing things await when racing starts putting on a proper marketing hat. Pools can dwarf casino jackpots and creep up on the Lotto over time with a more next generation mindset.

  20. Cj Aucamp says:

    Mrs Johns..the idea to get the small punter to play the pick6 again. MAW. ek as n eienaar van se 2 perde en wat nie groter as bv. R5000 n maand punt nie moet maar die game los en een of ander soort vermaak gaan soek.


    I couldn’t disagree more.

    Coupling will kill the Pick Six, just like fractional betting has killed the Trifecta bet.

    Let there be a must-win condition…5 winners takes it, with no carryover, if you want to fiddle/stuff around with things.

    Couplings will make it a yawn.

    You’ll get R500 payouts in CT, on a weekly basis, with the Snaith, Crawford & Bass-Robinson dominance, maybe less.

    You’ll need Mr. Ennion/Mr. Prestage/Mr. Botha to hog the Pick 6 to get a R 500 000 payout.

    What a ridiculous remedy to cure/rescue to our racing model.

    In Joburg, on Saturdays, just take Mr.Tarry, Mr.Peter & Mr. de Kock couplings & whoop dee do, you’ve won the the Pick6 … R 377.50 !

  22. Zobo says:

    Split the pool 60% to the carded runner that wins and the 40% to any couplings that also
    Qualify from the trainer of a winner of a race .. That will encourage people to play a pick six
    That don’t bother due to the situation as has happened over and over then many more can
    Enjoy a “FAT CIGAR”

    1. Editor says:

      Edwin Kingsley

  23. Len Bloch says:

    I clearly remember v.moodley(small letters for a reason)making the announcement and justification for removing the coupling rule years back.
    His trying to justify was purile as is his ability to run and control racing.
    I say bring back the coupling for pick 6 and jackpot pools to see an immediate and LARGE increase in pool size.

  24. Michael Jacobs says:

    I agree with William Milkovitch, couplings is not the answer, it is an option only and not the best option. Reducing the value of the unit to 50c is a good option to maybe start wth. Then the small punter can get a bigger % of the bet for his R100 perm.

    Having the “consolation” payout is another option – maybe 40% of the pool goes to any 5. That way more winners, encourages “churn” and punters reinvesting the following meeting.

    My concern is that we have been down this road before, but nothing came of it. I see Mr Graeme Hawkins commented, yet he is a racing man, but instead of just commenting maybe he can escalate this to the decision-makers.


    Allow me to remind SP Bloggers about the implications of couplings used in the Pick Six.

    Let’s go way, way back to the Queens Plate Pick6, all of 10 days ago.

    Before the running of the Queens Plate, Justin Snaith’s charges had the following live tickets :-

    Do It Again – 64 527 / Belgarion 249 100 / Jet Dark 34 125 / Hurricane Harry 5 917

    Total = 350 969

    Last leg of Pick 6 – Mr. Justin Snaith’s runners – Warrior 1 852 / Wolf Man 668

    With the couplings applied the payout would have been 5019 @ a factor of 22 times less.

    R 228 and less

    Would that trend of payout be exciting enough for you ?

  26. Reggie Naicker says:

    Yes definitely bring back the couplings for the long suffering punter as it will help big time.

  27. Leon Smuts says:

    Each bet has its own appeal and the P6 is placed to be the bet that has the ability to regularly pay the dream pay out. Is it ideal in its current format, who knows as opinion seems to be divided. My opinion is that racing needs an even bigger dream bet but with greater winnability than the current P6. There are many bet options that are easier to win but the smaller punter must be able to dream as well. You will never satisfy everyone and I would overhaul the exotics by adding modern games with a greater pay out potential but a more winning methodology. The balance is not right at present and will remain a contentious issue until the player, and especially the smaller player has more choice.

  28. Luigi Morelli says:

    Agree with William couplings will result in smaller payouts.As a small punter take a percentage and enjoy.

  29. Elwin says:

    Bring back the couplings and unit bet to 50cents in the Pick six.The bigger punters can afford to invest in the pick six as it is.Give the smaller punter a chance.Maybe smaller payouts,but more punters are likely to catch it.

  30. The viewpoints raised by both Mr. Jacobs & Mr. Smuts have merit.

    The possible dream payout for the R50 to R100 Pick 6 player surely must be the overriding goal to make friends/punters/aunties get that old buzz back.

    The type of buzz I remember, when a few of us decided, last minute.com style, to rush to the racecourse to watch Races 8 & 9 as we thought/hoped we were in line to win R 60 000 on the Pick 6

  31. The Pick 6 is an extremely difficult bet and I recommend it should stay as it is. No tweaking required. Smaller punters can play fractions. For constrained budgets there are also other options: Pick 4 (Jackpot) or Pick 3. To keep my sanity, my primary bet is a PA (straight line 100x and a PA perm). The Pick 6 is fun to play but not a high percentage bet.

  32. Avinash says:

    Couplings should be brought back and restrict trainers entry per race

    1. Editor says:

      Avinash Mahadeo

  33. Daryn says:

    Average payouts with couplings were over 50,000, I won a 1 million P6 catching 44%, Marcus and Charles Laird coupling fav and second fav you beat them and it boosts the payout more than it does now. I’m very much for couplings, my biggest P6 wins over 100k and up were with couplings

    1. Editor says:

      Daryn Colin

  34. Louis Goosen says:

    Its quite simple, really – make it easier or more possible for punters to be winners and they will be back, they will stay. Bring back the couplings !
    And while we are at it, get rid of the MR system as we know it. Bring in a hybrid system. No need to punish and “equalize” the good or above average ones, which the Punters want to follow.
    Let them win !

  35. Carlos Candal says:

    Hi my 50cents
    Couplings my be brought back, at the moment only trainers and jockeys making money and us as punters are filling up there pockets

  36. Graham Hurlstone-Jones says:

    The coupling rule was only taken away from the us a few years back, before that the P6 sailed along quite nicely with some very big payouts, some medium and lots of small….no one complained, no one saw a problem with it……then it was unilaterally taken away from the punter. Put it back. Watch the turnover……All the ideas above are feasible but to say the couplings will ruin racing >?????( its already f@$ked ) is a misnomer because it worked fine for years until it was taken away.

  37. Shanil Singh says:

    Great idea to have a consolation payout of 5 legs if a carryover takes place. I think Greyville poly pick 6 to be reduced to 3 legs ………….

  38. Tex Lerena says:

    Have a Super ”7” no couplings – 10 cents a unit AND a Pick 6 with couplings

    Yes Richard McVoy a PA with 3 places and one with 4 places

    Run a questionnaire with as many punters/ people on social media – tabs – betting shops

    eTV eNCA Pint media etc

    For every 500 entries received have a lucky draw for a R1000 betting voucher

    Most importantly, look after the customers we have AND how do we attract new ones ?


  39. Martin le Roux says:

    Great idea Tex Lerena. R5 straight line Pick 6 as in lotto and a 50 cent Pick 6 perm as usual including couplings. It is well to remember that those punters filling the off course facility would only be to glad to go home having doubled their money. Also bring back 4 places payout for fields of 14 or more runners as well as for the PA. The whole idea surely should be to have more punters winning perhaps lesser amounts than fewer winning larger amounts. Win is a win.

  40. Aubrey Nomvela says:

    Personally for me the size of the pool is less important than the payout.I’d rather have a R4000 pool (as it is usually the case with French PA pools) and the payout is a R1000,than have a R500 000 pool that yields a R20 payout.
    If couplings are brought back,it must not be allowed that two or three trainers entries, end up making up the whole field

  41. Anand Chetty says:

    I’ve said years ago that the fractional bet is extremely disadvantageous to a punter.
    Let’s do some math. For simplicity, let’s remove the takeout.
    1. You take a pick 6 where the unit of betting is 10c. Hypothetically you are the only punter. You spend R100. You win. You scoop the pool. You get your money back at least.
    2. You take a pick 6 where the unit of betting is R1. You invest R100 which is now a 10% bet. You are hypothetically the only punter. You win. Your return? 10% of your R100. Your return R10. Makes any sense?
    3. You take a P6 where the unit is 10c. There are 10 punters each outlaying R100. The pool is R1000. You are the only winner. You win R1000.
    4. You take a P6 where the unit is R1. There are 10 punters. You are the only winner. Your return is 10% which is R100. Money back, no profit. Any sense?
    All the above scenarios involve the exact same permutations with the exact same outlay. The difference in the return is based on what the unit of the bet is.
    The solution I believe, is NO fractional bet, reduce the unit to 10c, which is now a FULL bet, with the possibility of scooping the pool, and everyone, including the small punter getting a bite of the cherry.
    The bigger punters who normally take full bets at R1 unit, would now be standing 10 times for the same outlay.
    Years back, when the different provinces had separate pools, I took a Cape meeting bet in KZN
    where the unit was R1. I was the only winner, and received a very disappointing 10% return. Had I placed the bet directly with the Cape Tote which had a 10c unit, my return would have been a full bet, with a ten times greater return.
    The reason for the extraordinary large number of carry overs in spite of fractional betting is the way the dividend is calculated, which is incorrect.
    Anybody notice there are MORE carryovers since fractional betting than the days of a fixed 50c unit?
    This is because when you take a percentage of your ORIGINAL bet, the return MUST be a percentage of the ORIGINAL pool. Eg. If you take 10% of a bet that originally cost R100, your outlay is R10. Therefore, assuming you are the only punter and only winner, your return MUST BE 10% of the ORIGINAL pool(R100) which is R10. At least your money back.
    At the moment your return is 10% of 10% of the pool, which is a R1 return on a R10 outlay. You’ve lost 90% in this scenario.

  42. Leon Smuts says:

    Just in closing. A lot of things were done to the product mix and attributes for the wrong reasons and it has angered players and chased many off. It is time that things are done for the right reasons in all things related to punting. The operator needs turnover growth and punters benefit from this as well, so we share the same need. Happy punters are regular punters and everything should be done to make the experience entertaining, enjoyable, affordable and also rewarding, both financially and socially. Solve for growth by offering an inspired experience based on best practice at all times. We are in this together, lets assure benefits to all.

  43. Martin le Roux says:

    When going to the races I go with a specific amount of money for the day. I don’t play the pick 6 because it takes to large an amount out of my betting money with little chance of winning. Sitting as I always do with my stable connections it is significant that almost all of us give the pick 6 a miss in favour of the bi pot, PA and jackpot. Logically it cries out for a bet that makes it easier to win than to make it more difficult The amount should be 10 cents for a full bet. Then have a one liner for R2 in a lotto style bet. Pretty soon that pool will be hitting millions in carry overs. No better publicity than a R20 million straight line pool. Why does there always have to be a discussion. Make the changes and lets get on with it.

  44. Elwin says:

    The majority have spoken Now do a vote,say over a month,and see what the punters want.simple.

  45. Cecil Pienaar says:

    Whaattt almost 50 comments already. Thx Andrew Harrison from Ashburton, buy you a Beer at training centre when/if this Covid story passes. Off course different opinions, me, I want a Quick Pick option in Ntl and/or tips from Louis Goosen, ek wen f*kk*l lately by die huis 😂

    I reckon they should fiddle with the PA as well, no stop. LoL, Hello William

    Albert Falls Greetings


    Mr. Steve Carter, you see the bigger picture alright with regards this debate.

    The thing with the Pick 6 is that it wasn’t meant to be easy to catch.

    And when you catch it, it must feel like a barrel-full not a cup-full.

    I feel the punters don’t know what they want, especially when you have a few big results & massive payouts and/or part carryovers.

    You can’t eat Woolworths cake everyday at a discounted price.

    It it my experience since the inception of the fractional Pick 6 that most of us don’t want to play the lower % perms.

    It’s human nature but you have to be realistic – 1% of R800 000 is R 8000.

    For those punters who are trying to recoup losses from time gone by, you won’t do it with the Pick 6.

    That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try now & again but keep it real. The Pick Six will never be easy.

    How many times have you picked 3 or 4 well priced horses and yet land up losing the Pick6 by 1 via a photo-finish, blocked passage or a jockey checking his pick 6 ticket in the last 50m of a race …?


    Sunday’s Scottsville Pick 6 paid R 113 241 to 8.83 tickets

    Applying the Forbes coupling in Race 4, the Wright coupling in Race 6 and the Puller coupling in Race 8…

    the Pick 6 pays ONLY R10 870 to about 92 tickets.

    Is that what the majority of punters want ?

  48. DECEMBER says:

    Most punters left after few years of couplings were removed because it was getting costly. I agree with Tex Lerena.

    1. Editor says:

      Plse use your names, December

  49. Santoro says:

    There was always the feeling that the P6 without the couplings would eventually bring disenchantment with the average punters, every punter wants to win and find excitement in winning no matter the payout, the P 6 is a difficult bet , give the average punter a chance.
    I don’t trust this only ticket or carryover’s that eventually results in few winners, something is not right here.
    I support the proposal made by Tex Lerena.

  50. Brian Onkruid says:

    I have been a punter for more than 40 years and I support the Pick 6 Bet in it’s current format with the no coupling rule. Take today’s (21 Jan 2020) racing in the Vaal as a case in point. The Pick 6 was won by only 822 tickets with a payout of R877. This was without the coupling rule.

    I am sure that many punters would still have lost the Pick 6 on Monday at Scottsville even if they were given Fat Cigar on a plate. We need 1 Magical Bet where fortunes can be changed in this Sport and at the moment the Pick 6 is the only bet offering this opportunity.

    I have won many Pick Six bets over the years with very small layouts and the reason for this is that I stick to a formula and I have discipline. The Golden Rule is never to Gamble with money that you are not willing to lose. Cowboys don’t cry.

    Please do not bring the coupling rule back to the Pick Six bets or else the sport will die.

    My suggestion:
    Take all carryovers in each month to the last Saturday meeting and create 12 Mega pools for each year.

  51. Clifford Jacob says:

    The best thing is to bring back couplings even if the payouts are smaller the smaller punter will have a chance to play more often and this in turn would also widen the interest in horse racing

  52. Reuveshin Nair says:

    Today I went out of the p6 (55%) with risk taker beating de kocks other horse battleoftrafalgar in the 6th. I did catch it 1% though. With that said I still wouldn’t want the couplings to be brought back. I agree totally with William. The payouts will be too small. I am not a big money spender like others but I can tell you I’ve caught many 1% p6s. I realy believe the p6 pool is made up of thousands of 1% p6 bets. Is it profitable….yes. keep the bet as it is. 1% of 1 million is way better than a full unit of R800

  53. Vishal Mungroo says:

    As we know during lockdown, the pools were struggling to reach any amounts, the guys in the tabs were the ones pushing pools up once lockdown reduced… Couplings would give them a better chance of catching exotics and that money always goes back into the next pool hoping for a bigger payout. When u get 1 winner, it’s normally some1 that already has money, in this case 95% of the money is stashed…

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