* Lewis Hamilton 1.5 pts each way 7/1 William Hill, 13/2 Bet Victor, Bet365 1/4 1,2,3 (simultaneous 3pt lay on Betfair for F1 title at around 1.09)
I’ve been tempted to think that Jessica Ennis-Hill has SPOTY wrapped up barring some Andy Murray / Rugby World Cup heroics. Her closest challengers at the moment are Chris Froome and Lewis Hamilton, both around the 7/1 mark.
My feeling is that Froome will find it tricky to get on the podium. When he last won the Tour de France in 2013 he finished 6th (37,343 votes) with Mo Farah (who also won the 5k and 10k double at the Worlds that year) one of those above in 4th (51,945). Froome’s and Mo’s popularity may arguably have gone in different directions since but I’m not sure by how much and whether it would be enough to reverse those placings.
The cycling mob are often talked about as having a strong influence in SPOTY. It certainly seems to be the case with Mark Cavendish and Sir Bradley Wiggins having lifted the award in recent years. But these guys have a certain charisma and presence in the media whereas Froome (probably to his liking) doesn’t seem likely to be given so much air time or column inches in the SPOTY build-up. Cav and Wiggo also did more in their years than just their Tour achievements, having won the World Championships and Olympic Gold respectively.
I think Jess is all but guaranteed a spot on the podium with the two other spaces up for grabs. Although it looks like one of them may be sewn up too..
Looking at the historical voting figures it is quite striking how well Lewis has fared:
2007 (2nd in F1 championship) 2nd 122,649 (Calzaghe first with 177,748)
2008 (won F1 championship) 2nd 163,864 (Hoy first with 283,630)
2014 (won F1 championship) 1st 209,920
Between 2008 and 2014, incidentally, Lewis finished no better than 4th in the F1 championship. So it appears that whenever Hamilton has done something in the title race he has received a lot of votes. He’s 1.09 to win the F1 title at the moment.
The number of votes scored by the SPOTY 3rd place the last eight years has been: 99,913; 57,864; 230,444; 29,780; 62,953; 80,469; 145,924; 85,280. That’s an average of 99,077 votes. A case can be made for taking out the London Olympics inspired 2012 figure as an outlier (and even the other Olympic year of 2008 – a lot more votes are received in Olympic years) which would make the average 80,310 (69,374).
Based on these numbers it seems well worth a Hamilton each-way wager. It provides some cover in case he can overhaul Jess with hopefully a very good chance of making a small profit when placing. One negative is that no-one has won SPOTY back-to-back but this seems more to do with no-one having put together two similarly excellent performances in consecutive years.