The last few weeks have seen a flurry of activity in the SPOTY markets, providing some unexpected trading opportunities.
The biggest threat to Anthony Joshua, the long time market leader, came from Johanna Konta. The prospect of a first British Wimbledon winner for 40 years had bookies cutting Konta’s SPOTY price time and again as her run deep into the second week captured the public’s imagination. Konta hit as low as 4.0 on Betfair before she was eventually knocked out in the semis by Venus Williams.
There was another plunge at the same time on Jermain Defoe. The popular striker received praise during his part in helping young Bradley Lowery make the best of his final months before passing away at the start of July. Defoe broke down in a press conference talking about his pal and there has been a wave of goodwill towards him. Social media had plenty of messages saying that JD should win SPOTY.
Defoe and Konta shook AJ out of his long term position around the 1.5 mark, pushing him and nearer and nearer evens. Konta’s exit saw a sharp adjustment in Joshua’s price:
Defoe’s addition to the market is an interesting one. While it is understandable that many want to see him win SPOTY, the recent criteria for making the shortlist appear to suggest that sporting achievement is required first and foremost. Unless Defoe goes on an incredible goal scoring run, it looks tricky for a panel to leave out other arguably more deserving contenders on sporting achievement. There is also the Helen Rollason award (for outstanding achievement in the face of adversity) and there is the possibility it goes to Bradley with Defoe picking it up on his behalf on the night.
Andy Murray’s early exit in the Wimbledon quarters has seen his odds drift to around 200 on Betfair. Some punters may be forgetting though that both Konta and Murray still have the US Open (and prestigious end of year tournaments) to come where a win (Konta is 9/1, Murray 11/2) for either of them would surely see a substantial contraction in price again.
So for the time being it looks like it is wide open for two of the spaces in the top 3. Recent world class performances from Chris Froome, Adam Peaty, Tom Daley, and Anja Shrubsole have generated support. But there are doubts about them all with Froome notoriously appearing to lack the popularity (finished 6th twice) to match his phenomenal results in the Tour De France.
After the British and Irish Lions came away from New Zealand with one and a half tests and an impressive drawn series, I thought leading series points scorer, European player of the year and Six Nations winner Owen Farrell might have a fair chance. But the market has cooled and those mentioned above have leapfrogged.
The World Athletics Championships in London is coming up but genuine GB medal chances are few and far between. Laura Muir, who has been around the top of the SPOTY market since its inception, is 12/1 with Paddy Power to win her strongest event the 1,500m, giving an idea of the challenge ahead.
Whisper it, but maybe the door is ajar for Mo Farah. He’s evens with Paddy Power to complete his usual double and if that was to happen, by default at least, he may be able to poll top 3. How much of a boost he might get for it being his last season on the track and the championships being in London is a matter of speculation. Or perhaps those doping allegations will keep him anchored.
Lewis Hamilton is another not to be discounted in the absence of strong contenders. He was 5th when he last won the F1 title but he has always polled higher than Mo when going head to head and has that superstar factor. He’s evens to win his fouth championship this season.
There’s still a long way to go. Recent years have seen late springers from the pack – last year Alistair Brownlee, 2015 Kevin Sinfield and Tyson Fury, 2013 Leigh Halfpenny – so all of a sudden the picture can change.
AJ is rightly well clear of the field. We’re still waiting for confirmination of the Klitschko rematch. If, as anticipated he retains his titles in Vegas in November, it all looks set for SPOTY the following month. In this game though there’s always the possiblity of things not going to plan and with that come opportunities.
How do you see things so far? Think Defoe could make the shortlist? How’s the rest of the year going to play out? Please feel free to comment if you’ve any thoughts.