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go Mo – SPOTY 2017 review

Mo

There was shock all round as Kenny Dalglish revealed this year’s top 3. And Mo Farah winning wasn’t the biggest – Anthony Joshua was gubbed at the minimum price of 1.01 on Betfair to make the podium.

The Mo-Rea-Peacock 1-2-3 announcement was music to the ears of followers of the site – Mo was flagged up back in the spring at 25/1 and twice at 40/1. After the disappointment of the Chris Froome failed drugs test news, I was happy enough to see the more recent pick of Jonathan Rea land a place, so to then have the winner was a bonus.

It was pleasing to avoid getting drawn into the AJ and Lewis Hamilton hype (and Jermain Defoe earlier in the year) as they always seemed too short in the betting. But with their prices remaining stubbornly low it was easy to think they’d be right up there in the voting. As it happened it was a blanket finish with less than five percentage points covering the top six from Mo with 15.3% to Hamilton with 11.1% (the full numbers are here).

In hindsight there were perhaps some warning signs around AJ and Hamilton as they showed as being in with the pack in some of the polls. Without the inhaler story my feeling remains that Froome would have been top 3 and, looking at the results now, I think a likely winner.

There was simply a lack of novelty in contenders’ achievements at the top of the market which, with Froome weakened, made things precarious.

The edit and presentation during the show could have made some crucial differences. It was interesting to note that the top 3 all had solo segments on the show whereas Peaty with Kane, Froome with Hamilton and Walkden with AJ had to share theirs. The middle pair’s segment seemed particularly downbeat.

Peacock would have benefitted from his Strictly run and Rea had a strong campaign behind him. I thought Mo’s VT was the most striking and the lifetime achievement aspect to it clearly helped him. His amusingly chaotic interview with his son may have too. It was nice to see Mo’s delight and shock at winning it after all these years. Running must be the most competitive sport of them all and his achievements (subject to the usual drug caveats) are exceptional.

The final tally for 2017 was a profit of 92.44 points with a ROI of 428.95%. (The full betting results breakdown can be found here.) It was a pleasure to hit such a big priced winner for a decent sized stake (especially after being on Mo for so many years) and I hope followers have enjoyed collecting some bumper profits. Not all years will be like that, that’s for sure. Merry Christmas and see you next year.

Paul

 

‘adverse analytical finding’ – SPOTY 2017 show preview

Waking up on Wednesday morning to the news that Chris Froome had failed a drugs test had me reaching for a few puffs of the old Salbutamol myself.

Ever since the shortlist was announced I’d become increasingly confident Froome would be in the top 3, with a fair chance of beating Lewis Hamilton to second and even with a squeak of winning the whole thing. His odds on top 3 had gone from 5/6 to 8/15 and ‘without AJ’ from 4/1 to 3/1 and lower. It was building up into quite a bet that suddenly became virtually worthless as his odds rightly drifted dramatically.

It’s always at the back of your mind some sort of scandal like this could happen, but for it to involve Team Sky and Froome after all that’s gone before, and in SPOTY week, was a bit of a shocker.

In terms of eking out some profit this year, the news has this site like:

There are reports that, in the video link-up with Froome during his segment on the show tomorrow, the BBC presenter will be asking about the test result in the Vuelta. There’s every chance over the coming months that he will be stripped of the title and banned. It’s difficult to imagine Froome’s support not being significantly reduced on the night.

Joshua has shortened into a best-priced 1/7 and will appeal as a feel-good alternative to those such as Hamilton, Froome and Mo Farah who have been dogged by controversies. He will also be the only one of those in attendance in the studio.

Hamilton is a best priced 2/5 to finish best of the rest and in a weak year he should get enough support from his loyal fan base to get 2nd but it’s not a certainty.

The other place in the top 3 is up for grabs.

The question is how motivated will Spurs fans be to pick up the phone for Harry Kane. He’s had a great year but without Tottenham winning something there must be doubts about his support translating to votes.

Farah actually has a chance still but momentum appears to be building behind Jonathan Rea. He’s been on the Northern Ireland radio circuit this weekend and various figures in the motorcycling world are right behind him. He’s been doing press interviews, including one in The Times, and appears a genuine, easy to vote for role model.

I’m going for Joshua-Hamilton-Rea as the one-two-three and for fun a full prediction of:

  1. Joshua
  2. Hamilton
  3. Rea
  4. Farah
  5. Kane
  6. Froome
  7. Peacock
  8. Peaty
  9. Shrubsole
  10. Konta
  11. Walkdon
  12. Christie

Coral / Ladbrokes have a market up on the Joshua vote share: under 20% 20/1, 20-30% 5/2, 30-40% 6/4, 40-50% 9/4, over 50% 8/1. The last winner to get over 40% was Andy Murray after his first Wimbledon win in 2013. With AJ’s events being pay-per-view and the Klitschko fight being way back in April there are reasons to think a very wide margin victory is unlikely even after the Froome news.

Selections:

* 3 pts Jonathan Rea top 3 13/8 Coral / Ladbrokes (7/4 Unibet)

* 0.5 pts Anthony Joshua vote share 20-30% 5/2 Coral / Ladbrokes

* 0.5 pts Anthony Joshua vote share 30-40% 6/4 Coral / Ladbrokes

And finally it’s always interesting to have a look at some of the lowest outright prices on Betfair over the course of the year. Here are some of the highlights:

Jermain Defoe 5.0, Murray 4.0, Ben Ainslie 6.4, Konta 4.0, Farah 5.5, Hamilton 6.8, Froome 8.2, Peaty 16, Shrubsole 27.0

shortlist review

shortlist 2017

As ever social media seemed more concerned with who was off the shortlist than who was on it. It wasn’t a surprise that Jermain Defoe was left out – it would have been strange if he won SPOTY for something not based on sporting acheivement and probably would have opened up even more tedious debate. I’m sure his friendship with Bradley Lowery will be recognised on the night.

Twelve were named with probably only six worth serious consideration for the podium. Those are AJ (best price 1/4), Lewis Hamilton (6/1), Chris Froome (16/1), Mo Farah (25/1), Harry Kane (40/1) and Jonathan Rea (40/1) (the others are Adam Peaty, Jonnie Peacock, Anja Shrubsole, Johanna Konta, Bianca Walkden and Elise Christie). I’ve not been able to spot any each way prices, with all bookies going win only (sometimes each way the first two would be offered). A selection of bookies now have markets up for ‘winner without Joshua’ and ‘top 3’ though which is good news. Betfair now has the forecast and tricast markets.

It’s not the most inspiring of SPOTY years as there’s a lack of novelty in the achievements at the top of the market. On this day two years ago Tyson Fury beat Wladamir Klitschko. So AJ hasn’t really broken new ground in that sense. Froome has already won the Tour De France three times before as has Hamilton with the F1 title. Farah won another long distance gold to add to his big collection.

The last three are true sporting giants though and up there with Britain’s finest sportspeople of all time. Froome also won the Vuelta this season becoming only the third cyclist to win the Vuelta and the Tour De France in the same season. Hamilton overtook Jackie Stewart to become the most successful British F1 driver with four titles and broke Michael Shumacher’s career record for pole positions. Farah retired from the track as Britain’s most successful track athlete, winning the 10,000m at the world championships in London.

There is plenty of reason then as to why each could gain support. All three also have bad publicity to overcome though. Froome and Farah in terms of the ongoing drugs allegations in their sports and Hamilton in relation to the recent tax avoidance story. All  have had criticism for not being based in the UK (although Mo has now returned home) and two for not being British at all.

It’s tricky to unravel how this all impacts on how the public will vote. Historically Froome and Farah have notoriously polled poorly, with only Mo reaching the podium with 3rd place back in 2011. Hamilton only managed 5th place back in 2015 but previously upset Rory McIlroy to win SPOTY in 2014.

In AJ’s favour is that his April scrap with Klitschko was absorbing entertainment. The assumption would be that BBC will be allowed some footage of this fight on the night (even though it was on Sky) which should make for a good VT. He’s very marketable and extremely popular, selling out big stadiums minutes after tickets are released. The negatives are that, although he laboured through an easier fight more recently, his Klitschko win seems a long time ago and there is the promise of an even bigger 2018 where he could unify the heavyweight titles.

AJ appears the most likely winner but 1/4 does seem skinny.

Usually the Telegraph website has a poll soon after the shortlist is announced which has historically been fairly accurate. I’ve not seen any sign of it this year. The other polls spotted give a mixed picture. The Sun and the Mirror both show AJ ahead (Sun: AJ 26%, Ham 18%, Farah 16%, Froome 10%, Kane 9%; Mirror: AJ 43%, Ham 19%, Froome 9%, Farah 8%, Kane 8%. (although the phrasing of the latter poll asks ‘who will win’ which may not be as revealing as asking ‘who should win’).

The Radio Times and Eurosport also have votes. The Radio Times one could be a reasonable fit with the BBC SPOTY voter but it’s a bit unclear how many have voted in it. And the Eurosport one could easily be somewhat skewed as it is the channel of choice for cycling fans. Both show Froome clear top of the pile with AJ 2nd just ahead of the rest.

Overall though I have been struck by the general social media support for Froome’s achievements. In previous years this has been missing. He was surprisingly omitted from the shortlist last year and could it be that there’s been a storing up of goodwill towards him that could play out this year. His Vuelta win sets this year apart from his previous years and it is also a weaker edition this time round.

Kane and Rea are the other contenders that are of interest. Vardy and Bale underperformed last year and there are doubts about how well Kane will poll too. Spurs have huge support though and he’ll need careful monitoring.

This year Rea became Superbikes champion for the 3rd time and was also awarded an MBE. He appears to have a very loyal fan base and there was a petition for him to be included on the shortlist. He lives on the Isle of Man and is Northern Irish so he could get significant regional support. 10,000 people signed the petition so the potential for multi phone votes should be respected. If there is a campaign type candidate this year Rea looks the most likely.

Followers of the selections on the site so far this year are essentially on Mo to place at good prices (now a best priced 9/4). As always with Mo and SPOTY he’s been a bit unfortunate – both Hamilton and Froome went on win the F1 title and the Vuelta respectively.

At the current prices it looks worth favouring Froome and Rea over Hamilton, AJ and Kane.

* 0.5pts win Froome 14/1 generally available inc Betfred, Bet Victor, Betway (16/1 with Boylesports)

* 1pt Froome ‘without AJ’ 4/1 Bet 365 (7/2 generally available elsewhere)

* 5pts Froome Top 3 Finish 5/6 William Hill (10/11 with Boylesports)

* 2pts Rea Top 3 Finish 11/4 Ladbrokes, Coral

I’ll keep an eye out for any new markets that appear, including hopefully a Team of the Year one.

If you’ve any thoughts on what looks a bit of a tricky year please do add your comments and any predictions of the 1-2-3.

mid term report

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:

AJ odds

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.

AJ’s to lose?

AJ

Each year since this blog started something would have happened by now to have kick-started the SPOTY debate.

In 2014 Steven Gerrard had slipped up at Anfield causing a mass sale of his SPOTY position. It had dipped to 1.74 when it looked likely he would be captaining Liverpool to the Premier League title.

In 2015 Sir AP McCoy had announced his impending retirement at the end of that season and he was booked on the favourite for the Grand National. He hit a low of 3.5.

In 2016 Leicester City were on their way to the title on the back of Jamie Vardy’s goals – he’d traded at around the 3.0 mark.

This year nothing comparable has happened. The middle distance runner Laura Muir has put in some spectacular indoor track performances and Johanna Konta continues her rapid climb up the tennis rankings, winning the Miami Masters 1000 title. But the very top of the market has been left untouched.

That will change tonight when long-time market leader Anthony Joshua fights Wladimir Klitschko in front of 90,000 at Wembley Stadium. The winner will be the IBF, WBA and IBO heavyweight champion.

AJ is a general 7/4 for SPOTY and 4/9 to beat Klitschko. If he wins it looks like he would go well odds-on for the BBC award (I’d guess even as short as around 1/2 in places). He’s box office and media friendly so it’s easy to see why. But he’s tricky to back at such prices, especially such a long way out from home. There’s the possibility of another fight this year and, with AJ himself talking about this as ‘a stepping stone to greatness’ could it be a case of voters waiting to see how his career goes on from here rather than crowning him SPOTY at the first attempt. Talk (however unlikely it is) of a Tyson Fury fight could also delay people wanting to vote for him – there might be a temptation to want to know who is the best.

That said, a win over Klitch would be a worthy and symbolic achievement. The post-fight media coverage would make AJ mainstream news and his wider popularity could soar. Fury provides a comparison. He caused a sensation when beating WK in November 2015, finishing 4th that year. How much missing out on the podium was down to voters not being too impressed with his achievements in SPOTY terms (and AJ would only be doing what Tyson had already done) or the negativity caused by his controversial image is something to ponder. One thing for sure is that AJ comes across as infinitely more marketable.

Of course all this may count for nothing – he’s got to win the fight which is no certainty as it represents by far the biggest test of his career so far.

Unfortunately there’s not too much at this stage that I can see as value alternatives. The next in the market are Andy Murray (generally priced 8/1), Johanna Konta (8/1), Sir Ben Ainslie (8/1), Laura Muir (14/1), Lewis Hamilton (16/1), Mo Farah (25/1), Rory McIlroy (25/1), Chris Froome (33/1) and Katarina Johnson-Thompson (33/1).

A Wimbledon win for Murray (he’s 9/4 fav) would naturally see him shorten significantly. But it may be (possibly barring getting a first French Open title) that even he’s run out of new things to do to keep the voter sufficiently engaged to push him to a fourth win in five years.

Konta is interesting but again a grand slam would probably be required (and her record at the French Open and Wimbledon so far is poor). She does though have a shot at being world number one late this year while Serena Williams is off the circuit. I wonder who would get most votes if she and Murray each won a grand slam this year. She’s one to keep an eye on but looks short enough currently.

I wouldn’t be confident in Hamilton even if it was a given that he wins the F1 title as his sport appears less popular than ever and in a state of upheaval.

Froome surprisingly didn’t even make the shortlist last year. That should be rectified this time if he won an incredible fourth Tour De France (he’s a best priced 11/10 to do so). He’s one that might be worth trading on Betfair – perhaps by laying for the TdF market if he was to go short and backing to lay in the SPOTY market. To many he continues to be clouded by his association with Team Sky.

McIlroy would need to win at least one major which is far from easy so can be discounted at this stage. Golf remains a sport that struggles on SPOTY night.

I think Ainslie would be a strong podium contender and even in with a chance of the win if his Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR) team sailed to Britain’s first ever America’s Cup this June. There would be a key novelty factor to that story and Ben has an excellent image. The problem is there’s a strong favourite to overcome in Oracle Team USA who are 4/5 with Sky Bet, BAR are 11/4. More information on this event can be found here.

Of those at the top of the market, this leaves those competing at the World Athletics Championships in August. In recent years this competition has produced podium finishes for Farah (3rd in 2011, also 4th in 2013 and 7th in 2015), and Jessica Ennis-Hill (3rd in 2015). This perhaps doesn’t appear the strongest pedigree (and there remains concern about track and field’s enduring popularity with the public) but at least there is some form to go on and the fact that London is hosting this year could raise the profile of those competing.

Muir has improved significantly over the last year and is going for the 1,500m and 5,000m double. She’s in with a genuine chance of gold in the former (Paddy Power have an early price of 6/4) but still has to beat Faith Kipyegon, the Kenyan Olympic champion from last year, and the Ethiopian world record holder, Genzebe Dibaba. Do that and she could at least make SPOTY top-3 – another medal in the 5,000m would further enhance her credentials.

With Jess now retired and a new coach, Johnson-Thompson will also fancy her chances of gold in the heptathlon. She also has to reverse the form of the Olympic champion from Rio. And it has to be doubtful that she would be as popular as Jess with the voting public.

As ever Mo should stand out beyond them all in terms of medals where he’d likely be priced up as odds on to complete the 10,000m and 5,000m double. He continues to be dogged by allegations against his coach for using banned substances. He himself seems resigned to not being popular with the public in this competition. And it’s become something of a joke amongst SPOTY betters how Mo nearly always falls short.

But if some of those above him in the market fall way, and he gets a bit of a boost from retiring from the track in London with double gold, there is scope to build on last year’s fourth place. I’m amused at myself for putting up Mo again but at the price I think he’s worth a small play at this stage.

Once the market is shaken up after the fight tonight there may be other opportunities which I will update on if they arise.

Enjoy the fight if tuning in. Do you think AJ would be a shoo-in for SPOTY if he wins?  Please feel to comment below with any thoughts.

* 0.5 pts each way Mo Farah 25/1 Paddy Power (1/5 odds first 3) 20/1 Bet 365 (1/4 odds first 3) (33/1 with Boylesports (1/5 odds first 3))

SPOTY 2016 review

untitled-7

The final voting figures were:

Andy Murray 247,419
Alistair Brownlee 121,665
Nick Skelton 109,197
Mo Farah 54,476
Sophie Christiansen 37,284
Kate Richardson-Walsh 34,604
Max Whitlock 32,858
Laura Kenny 31,781
Jamie Vardy 25,020
Jason Kenny 12,376
Adam Peaty 11,129
Gareth Bale 10,786
Nicola Adams 7,812
Kadeena Cox 5,574
Sarah Storey 3,580
Danny Willett 2,227

Andy Murray maintained the streak of SPOTY going to an Olympic gold medallist every year of the Games since 2000. Each of those winners (Steve Redgrave, Kelly Holmes, Chris Hoy and Bradley Wiggins) quickly followed up by being knighted in the New Year Honours list, just as Murray has this time round.

Sir Andy was available at 10/1 available after Novak Djokovic was knocked out of Wimbledon and this formed the bulk of the site’s profit this year (the full betting breakdown can be found here).

It was only after the publicity that Brownlee received in September that Murray was briefly knocked off the top of the market. Gaining and maintaining the world number one spot then sealed the award for SAM.

A campaign once again had a big say in the final positions, with the equestrian and horse racing world pushing Skelton all the way on to the podium. His top 3 priced plunged from around 4/1 when the shortlist was announced to odds-on in the build up to the show.

The footballers, in particular Bale, struggled for support and again Farah missed the podium despite his achievements being arguably superior to anyone. Laura Kenny disappointed her backers. It may be that the British cycling controversies are having an impact here, as well as the possibility of cycling success getting a bit samey for voters.

The Olympics provides so many stories these days for British athletes and 2017 promises to be quieter. But that’s not to say there can’t be a fully competitive SPOTY market. The World Athletics Championships in London looks at this stage like it could be a key event to monitor.  Anthony Joshua, Murray and Ben Ainslie (his Land Rover BAR team are aiming to become the first British winners of the America’s Cup in June) are currently showing as the early favourites with the bookies.

I hope readers had a profitable 2016. I’ll be back on the site once the market warms up over the coming months. Until then – a happy and prosperous New Year to everyone.

SPOTY 2016 show preview

murray-number-one

This time last year Andy Murray was 1.65 favourite on Betfair. He’s even shorter today at 1.19 in his bid to become the first person to win SPOTY in consecutive years and three times in total.

After winning Wimbledon and Olympics gold in the summer and going odds-on, Murray’s price was drifting until he became world number one for the first time during the Paris Masters in November.

The end-of-year number one spot was still on the line though later in the month at the World Tour Finals. His convincing victory over his long-time rival and nemesis Novak Djokovic in the final meant Murray secured the top spot going into 2017. He’s had another phenomenal year with a 78-9 record for the season, winning nine tour titles. He ended it on a 24-match winning streak.

It’s been a pleasure to have followed the whole of Muzza’s career, seeing him fulfil his potential in a golden era despite many setbacks along the way. And now he appears comfortably to be Britain’s favourite sportsperson.

It’s been a spectacular year of British sporting success. The depth of achievement is perhaps best summed up by Jason Kenny – who won three gold medals at the Olympics, and joined Sir Chris Hoy as having the most golds in total of any Briton – being 710 for tonight on Betfair.

He had traded as low as 7.0 during that captivating night in the velodrome when he won the keirin for his third gold. It’s always interesting and often surprising to look back at some of the lowest prices – this year they include: Brownlee 3.05, Farah 3.05, Vardy 3.0, L Kenny 6.0, Willett 6.2, Whitlock 6.4, Skelton 8.6 and Peaty 10.0. That’s not to mention Anthony Joshua and Chris Froome who also traded low at times but didn’t even make the shortlist.

It’s been a classic year of SPOTY trading action and the main hope tonight for followers of the site is for a Murray-Brownlee-Skelton / Trott 1-2-3, along with a women’s hockey or combined Olympic and Paralympic team of the year award. There are quite a few dangers lurking and it’s never straightforward in this game so we shall see. For fun, my guess at the full 1-16 is:

  1. Murray
  2. Brownlee
  3. Skelton
  4. L Kenny
  5. Farah
  6. Whitlock
  7. Vardy
  8. Bale
  9. Richardson-Walsh
  10. J Kenny
  11. Christiansen
  12. Adams
  13. Peaty
  14. Storey
  15. Cox
  16. Willett

Best of luck to everyone tonight with their bets.