AP McCoy – a false favourite?

AP McCoy

Immediately after riding his 200th winner of the season on 7 February 2015, AP McCoy announced that he was to retire at the end of the season. He was suddenly installed as clear favourite for SPOTY (best priced 10/3 currently).

It is easy to see why as he won the award in 2010 and finished third in 2013. He is also widely considered a sporting legend as he will have been champion jockey in all 20 of his years as a professional, a feat which may never be repeated.

The problem is I think there is some doubt as to whether he will actually be nominated for the shortlist come November.

These days a panel decides upon the shortlist. A panel that includes some members of the BBC. It could well be the case that he will be pencilled in for the Lifetime Achievement Award. I am not sure simply retiring from the sport, which will happen in April, will be enough of an achievement to warrant being nominated.

In 2010 McCoy won the National – and he may do again – in which case he would probably be on the shortlist and probably win the whole thing again. However, his likely horse is around 8/1 to do so and this may overestimate its chances.

In 2013 McCoy, at the time of the shortlist was announced, had just a few weeks previously ridden his 4,000th winner. This year, I have a feeling, if he doesn’t win the National, that by November, his retirement will be far from most people’s minds with a whole summer of sport, and a new National Hunt season without AP, fresher in the memory.

I wouldn’t be surprised if McCoy was on the shortlist but I think there is enough doubt that I have been laying him in the place market at about evens. I will be looking to do so further as publicity increases around Aintree and his retirement. I will be covering by backing AP in the National. If he doesn’t win the National, I can see his SPOTY price drifting over the summer and the opportunity to lock in some profit.

His price in the outright market may also mean there’s some value elsewhere and in my next post will make some selections.

review of SPOTY 2014

untitled

Winner Lewis Hamilton 209,920 votes

2nd Rory McIlroy 123,745

3rd Jo Pavey 99,913

“Absolutely ridiculous that @McIlroyRory has not won Sports Personality 2014. Huge respect to @LewisHamilton but come on.” Ian Poulter

“@BBCSPOTY has turned into a complete joke. It’s such a great shame. Huge congrats to @LewisHamilton, but he had 1 person to beat all year.” Ian Poulter

“Technology of the year goes to the silver and red dodgem!!! Just have to win all 4 next year @McIlroyRory!” Lee Westwood

Ah SPOTY. It’s become a bit of a laughing stock really. A sign of the times and the general public’s love of the celebrity. How I long for the old fashioned Sports Review of the Year as it used to be. Still, at least there’s some interesting markets! And last night certainly provided a shock to thousands of punters willing to back Rory all the way down to 1.10 in running.

The signs had been there ever since the shortlist was announced three weeks ago that Lewis was in with a decent shout. As mentioned in my previous post, the polls gave him a significant lead. Probably most telling of all was The Sunday Times YouGov poll published yesterday which had Lewis as the clear winner.

The market was beginning to react and Rory drifted out to around 1.75 around the time the show started. But then he shortened significantly on the back of his impressive VT in the show. This was interesting as there was still no way of knowing at this point for sure how popular he would be as no official votes had been cast (there was a flash vote with only around a 45 minute window).

I was happy enough with my green positions on both the main contenders but tipped the balance slightly more towards Lewis just before the off. I wish I’d trusted the polls a bit more though and gone in a bit harder. There now seems a rule of SPOTY to adhere to: essentially lay any major winning golfer.

I had lost confidence in my Bale selection in the week leading up to the big night and was pleased to see my more recent selection of Pavey sneak onto the podium at 13/8. I also tipped the 1-2-3 on the site at 5/1 so hope a few of you got on that, although I only had a fiver on myself.

Through the year I made some good calls and bad calls but in my first year of the blog (started in May) I was satisfied with a profit of + 7 points at a return of 29% on points risked (11% on total points staked) – please see BETTING RESULTS 2014 page. The aim of the blog is to provide a nice little profit in time for Christmas at say around £25-£50 a point. As I mentioned in an earlier post my staking for some of the larger priced selections was a bit unrealistic (it didn’t really make too much difference to the stats this time) so I will take that on board for next year as I want the prices to be achievable. I also hope the blog gives readers some good trading angles and ideas beyond the strict selections.

Thanks to those who have read the blog – Steven Gerrard trading at 1.74 seems a lifetime ago! Have a great Christmas and I’ll be back in 2015 to do it all again..

the big night

So the big night has finally arrived and picking the winner is a bit tricky. In my opinion Rory McIlroy’s achievements are phenomenal and he should win it.

But pretty much all polls I’ve seen, including the YouGov poll published today by The Sunday Times, show Lewis Hamilton ahead:

image

I’m not really going to get too involved during the night but here is my guess for the finishing positions:

1) Hamilton
2) McIlroy
3) Pavey
4) Bale
5) Dujardin
6) Froch
7) Yarnold
8) Gallagher
9) Whitlock
10) Peaty

If looking for a bet the trio of Hamilton, McIlroy and Pavey at about 6 on Betfair should give you a good run.

I’ll be back in the week with a review once the voting figures are out.

Good luck everyone.

selections – Jo Pavey and Gareth Bale (lay)

 * Jo Pavey 8 points to finish 3rd 13/8 Ladbrokes 6/4 generally

* Gareth Bale 10 points lay without McIlroy 25/1 on Betfair (covering previous advice to back at 33/1)

As discussed in my post yesterday there seems a genuine lack of confidence in Gareth Bale at the moment – he has been drifting quite substantially in the top 3 market (from about 2.66 earlier in the week to 3.6 to back now). This may change on the night if the Welsh vote in numbers.

But at the moment it look prudent to get Pavey on side to cover our position on Bale.

The only other contender I am a bit worried about who could upset the applecart is Charlotte Dujardin,who will have large equestrian support (Zara Phillips won the award previously). So you may want a small saver on her. Also there is a possibility that Pavey could fly into the top 2 somehow – we can keep an eye on this.

In relation to Bale and the previous back to lay advice at 33/1 on 30 October there has been plenty of opportunity to trade out (traded as low as 12 on Betfair). This was certainly worth a bet as if Lewis Hamilton had not done the business in the final race then Bale would have gone favourite and probably odds on in this market. As it is, given the confidence behind Hamilton, I am not sure he has much chance and you should be able to get out, if you haven’t already, at about 22 to 25s. (As I mentioned in my post yesterday the staking for this bet was too high and in reality I don’t think anyone (I didn’t) would have actually staked this high – this should really have been a one or two point selection.)

markets and polls

winner market

With three days to go the Betfair markets are becoming more liquid and firming up. There hasn’t been too much by way of polls to refer to this year but there are a couple of potential indicators that I’ve noticed.

The Guardian poll has probably been the most high profile but I could not see how many voted in it. It was open for a good few days so probably a fair number. This shows Lewis Hamilton with  42%, Rory McIlroy with 34% and then Jo Pavey with 11%. Gareth Bale is in with the pack on 3%. There are a few other polls dotted around the internet which also show a two horse race. Most of these seem to show the F1 champ ahead. Of particular interest I thought, on the night of the shortlist being announced, was the number of ‘retweets’ and ‘favorites’ for the tweets from the BBC SPOTY for each contender as they were announced. This showed Hamilton far ahead.

There was probably a strong recency bias here in that the shortlist was announced the day after the F1 title was decided. The question is how much will this bias wear off, if at all. Rory has slowly drifted out to around 1.6 and is now back in again at about 1.53 but support for Hamilton is very strong (3.1) and this is supported by polls. There may also be a YouGov poll to come at the weekend which I will update on.

I’m probably happy enough to leave my current position at the moment, until any further information comes to light.

SPOTY winner market

top 3 market

Back on 29 June 2014 I advised a 3 points each-way bet on Gareth Bale at 33/1, a fifth of the odds for top 3.  Effectively (assuming he doesn’t win and we lose that part of the stake) if he placed it would lead to a 16.8 points profit. There has been plenty of trading opportunity since the shortlist was announced and I have been slowly laying Bale at around 2.66 to green up my book. I was banking on the Welsh vote but there has been a general lack of support for Bale in social media and perhaps tellingly in Wales’s own SPOTY awards he did not even make the top 3.

A real danger I think is Jo Pavey who I have been slowly backing  to even up the green top 3 book. She is currently a best priced 13/10 top 3. I’ve noticed quite some support on social media for her and in the polls. Athletes have a fantastic record in SPOTY too. I’ll most likely be advising a play on Pavey before the show, possibly to finish third, depending on prices, to balance our book for what should be a profit. Two sound judges, Ralph Ellis and Joe Dyer at betting.betfair.com make a good case for her here and here.

Incidentally a word on my staking for my last selection which was Bale in the without McIlroy market – 8 points at 33/1. On reflection I should have advised a smaller stake of one or two points for such a big price for practical reasons of getting on. There has been plenty of opportunity to trade out for a profit on this selection though – has been around the 17 mark on Betfair for a week or so but I will likely make an official selection to balance the books on this bet. As we approach Sunday I’ll be providing further news and updates and will let you know of any selections. It looks like Pavey is the one to watch.

shortlist announced

The shortlist from which the winner of SPOTY 2014 will come from was announced this evening. Probably the main surprise was that Jonny Wilkinson was omitted from the list. Here it is in order of bookies’ odds with the best current price shown:

Rory McIlroy (golf) 1/4

Lewis Hamilton (F1) 7/2

Jo Pavey (athletics) 50/1

Gareth Bale (football) 66/1

Lizzie Yarnold (skeleton) 200/1

Charlotte Dujardin (equestrian) 200/1

Max Whitlock (gymnastics) 250/1

Carl Froch (boxing) 250/1

Adam Peaty (swimming) 250/1

Kelly Gallagher and guide Charlotte Evans (skiing) 300/1

It looks a two horse race at the moment. Hopefully our selection Bale has a good chance of 3rd place – it looks to be between him and Pavey for that. There is of course potential for shocks in this market as has been known on many an occasion.

Once things have settled down and the markets become more liquid on Betfair I’ll update on any potential plays. Social media and polls can be quite interesting as we build up to Sunday 14 December 2014.

selection – Bale (back to lay)

There’s not been much to report SPOTY-wise recently – barring a big surprise it’s all but over with Rory McIlroy 1.12 on Betfair and a best-priced 1/8 with the bookies. Hype around the night has been at a minimum – just as well many will say!

There are still plenty of markets to play in though with the Without-McIlroy market, the top 3 market etc. By the time of the night on Sunday 14 December 2014 there will be markets for each of the ten finishing positions.

Before then though I think there is a good opportunity to enter the Without-McIlroy market:

* 8 points GARETH BALE at 33/1 with Ladbrokes (25/1 generally) back to lay (stake scale 1-10pts)

Without McIlroy 30 Oct 14

The shortlist of ten is selected by a panel and announced on BBC One’s The One Show on Monday 24 November 2014 – full details here.

Will Bale be on the list? You’ve got to think he must be – a) he would be the only footballer on the list b) he scored in, and won, the European Cup Final c) he’s the only British footballer on the shortlist for the Ballon d’Or d) he’s still the world’s most expensive footballer e) Wales have a chance of being top of their qualifying group for the European Championships on SPOTY night and, in any event, have a good chance of qualifying.

Assuming Bale makes the shortlist then what are his chances of getting votes? I think they are pretty good.

The competition:

Carl Froch – There was a lot of publicity surrounding his fight with George Groves. That was back in February and I am not sure he has really captured the imagination of the wider public.

Lizzy Yarnold, Claudia Fragapane, and Jo Pavey – There appears to be a groundswell of support for women to be further represented in SPOTY and it could be that these women get a fair amount of publicity – in particular, Pavey who impressively won the European 10,000m gold at 40. How much this will transfer to votes is the question. I have my doubts about this mainly based on how much their actual performances were recognised by the wider public. On balance, I am not convinced many people will actually remember them and vote for them. Based on that I think they are short in the market.

Jonny Wilkinson – I can see how there could be a Ryan Giggs-2009 element to Wilkinson’s popularity this year, plus he won the European Cup in his last game. That said, he has already won the SPOTY award in 2003 and, while he remains extremely popular, his actual achievements this year are no better than Bale’s. The emotional vote could kick in but when there is such a short-priced favourite, such as McIlroy, my intuition is that this will dampen such a vote – people may think, ‘what’s the point?’.

Lewis Hamilton – He’s the obvious obstacle at 4/6. I wouldn’t bet on it though, as while he is the likeliest runner-up, I remain sceptical as to his wider appeal and that of F1 these days. A terrific driver, he failed to win SPOTY in 2008 despite winning the championship and being the heavy favourite. He also has to win the F1 title this year which is no formality, although he is 1/3 to do so, and with double points available on the last race of the season anything can happen. Again, as with everyone, there could be a dampening effect on votes for Hamilton due to McIlroy appearing such a certainty.

So with Bale at 33/1 I think this is a terrific bet. He has produced some memorable performances for club and country this year, is a likeable lad and instantly recognisable to a large proportion of the population. But most importantly he is Welsh. The Welsh have consistently got behind their own in large numbers with Joe Calzaghe, Giggs and Leigh Halfpenny (2nd last year to Andy Murray) recently benefitting.

I can see Bale being nominated for the shortlist and his odds trading much, much shorter on the night than the current 33/1. While he may not finish runner-up we can trade out for a good profit.

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