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.

hot list updated – Rory’s year and what it means for SPOTY

Not much to say in many ways. The hot and cold colour coding below speaks for itself!

Rory has been outstanding this summer since his break up from Caroline Wozniacki (he himself says it has helped him focus on his golf and she is also doing well since, having just dumped Maria Sharapova out of the US Open).

No-one deserves to win SPOTY more this year after his two major wins (with the Ryder Cup still to come) – although I am sure he doesn’t care about winning a popularity contest.

On the eve of the USPGA he was actually the same best price to win that tournament (22/1) as he was to win SPOTY. There were some good opportunities to trade on both markets during the tournament but I was bit slow on the uptake eventually getting on a bit late in the day.

I’m sure the winner has been decided but there will still be good opportunities to look for value in the place markets and the without-McIlroy markets which I will update on in the coming months.

Ralph Ellis makes some good points in this Betfair article but in that year Ryan Giggs was up against Jenson Button and I am not convinced that this generation of F1 drivers capture the imagination as they did say twenty years ago. Also a campaign for Jonny Wilkinson may not be as strong as that for Giggs for a couple of reasons, mainly that he has already won the award before in 2003.

Rory McIlroy 1/6

Lewis Hamilton 7/1

Andy Murray 100/1

Jonny Wilkinson 22/1

Jo Pavey 33/1

Gareth Bale 100/1

Carl Froch 50/1

Claudia Fragapane 33/1

 

 

 

hot list updated

A real shake up in the market with Andy Murray and Chris Froome going out in spectacular fashion just as their odds were significantly contracting. It really does seem the award that no-one wants to win.

This has led to Jonny Wilkinson and Carl Frock being well backed.

We covered ourselves on Murray and Froome by laying them for their respective events to come out of it all unscathed. We have Gareth Bale and Mo Farah running for us and their prices have naturally come in a bit.

Wilkinson is the really interesting one and we will have to keep an eye on him. For now we will keep a watching brief but there is still all to play for in this market with Lewis Hamilton still at the head of affairs after a successful British GP.

Lewis Hamilton 13/8 F1 Champion

Gareth Bale 25/1 Won European Cup scoring the winning goal

Jonny Wilkinson 6/1 F1 Retired after a stellar career 

Mo Farah 25/1 Winning gold(s) at the Commonwealth Games

Carl Froch 8/1 Super middleweight Champion

Rory McIlroy 20/1 Win a major and be a key part of a Ryder Cup win

Andy Murray 33/1 US Open Champion

Lizzy Yarnold 25/1 Won Winter Olympic gold medal

selections

* 2 points Mo Farah 40/1 Winner, You Bet (33/1 with a variety of bookies)

* 3 points each way Gareth Bale 33/1 Ladbrokes 1/5 odds 1,2,3

We’re on the brink of a key period in the SPOTY year – Wimbledon second week, the Tour De France and the Commonwealth Games.

We have two selections advised just over three weeks ago in Chris Froome and Andy Murray who are currently strong in the market. They were advised at 7/1 and 14/1 respectively and are now best priced 6/1 and 7/1.

I would go so far as to say that if Murray won Wimbledon again he will win SPOTY again (if memory serves me correctly he went very heavily odds on for SPOTY after winning Wimbledon last year). It is difficult to imagine a performance during the rest of the year that could beat it for popularity. This makes the 7/1 that is still available with Betfred / Totesport very appealing as he is a best priced 3/1 to win Wimbledon. I think Murray should be favourite against anyone he plays during the tournament but of course he will likely have to beat two of the greats (Djokovic and Nadal (or Federer)) along the way which is not entirely straightforward.

While the focus of the SPOTY market is on Murray, I think it is worth our while looking elsewhere in case Murray falters. If this happens the focus on SPOTY will shift to the Commonwealth Games, the two remaining golf majors and the Ryder Cup and back to the F1 Championship (where Lewis Hamilton has lost more ground recently to Nico Rosberg).

Mo

Mo Farah has confirmed he is to run in Glasgow. He would be our most high profile performer (although he would be running for England in Scotland which complicates things a little) and it is worth getting him onside at a big price. I can only see his price getting shorter if he turns up and we can look to potential lay him off to win his events nearer the time if necessary as he will probably be a short price to win them. His price will get significantly shorter if Froome or Murray do not win.

Balo

I can’t resist getting Gareth Bale on board at 33/1 each way. He’s the world’s most expensive footballer currently (which still hasn’t really sunk in). A great player. He, along with Lizzy Yarnold, remain the only contenders to really have achieved anything at this point this year, with Bale scoring the ‘winning’ goal in the Champions League final. The key to this bet is that he must have a very good chance of making the short list of 10 and once there anything can happen. The Welsh are a force to be feared in SPOTY betting (Joe Calzaghe and Leigh Halfpenny are two recent examples) and I can see them really getting behind their man on the day. They may enjoy supporting him as a contrast to the English floundering in the World Cup.

Agree with the above thinking? Think having Mo running for England in Scotland makes things too tricky to back him? Think that everyone will have forgotten about the Champions League final come December? Do feel free to comment on here or Twitter with any opinion you may have on the matter.

 

hot list updated

No major surprise that England are out of the World Cup although maybe a bit earlier than expected. This removes Steven Gerrard from the list once and for all.

Chris Froome and Andy Murray’s odds are coming in all the time. I think Murray is still a good wager at 12s given that he is a best priced 4/1 to win Wimbledon, which I also think is a good price. Murray is arguably the best grass court player in the world, assuming he doesn’t have any major injury concerns. These next few weeks will have a significant impact on the SPOTY market.

If neither Froome or Murray wins their respective events then it opens the way somewhat for Mo Farah to maybe have a say or another, as yet unknown, contender at big prices.

Lewis Hamilton 7/4 F1 Champion

Chris Froome 5/1 Tour de France winner

Andy Murray 12/1 Wimbledon / US Open Champion

Mo Farah 50/1 Winning gold(s) at the Commonwealth Games

Rory McIlroy 20/1 Win a major and be a key part of a Ryder Cup win

Gareth Bale 20/1 Won European Cup scoring the winning goal

Jonny Wilkinson 18/1 Retired after a stellar career

Carl Froch 16/1 Super Middleweight Champion

Lizzy Yarnold 25/1 Won Winter Olympic gold medal

selections

I think the markets are set up quite nicely at the moment for us to strike with two selections.

* 10 points back Chris Froome 7/1 (8.0) Paddy Power

(10 points lay Chris Froome Tour De France winner 1.89 Betfair)

* 5 points back Andy Murray 14/1 (15) Bet365 BetVictor

(5 points lay Andy Murray Wimbledon 4.6 Betfair)

I think Lewis Hamilton is setting up the market with some value at the moment. Even if he wins the F1 title I think he is a vulnerable SPOTY favourite. And I have to discount any England footballers getting too involved in the market barring Owen or Gazza type heroics. Could happen but we have to deal in likelihoods in this game.

So come July time I think it is set up for two old faces to be at the forefront of SPOTY thinking – Froome and Murray.

Murray comes first at Wimbledon defending his title. He’s been without a coach for a while now since Ivan Lendl left. But as I write he has put together a determined run at the French Open. He’ll probably lose to Nadal in the semis tomorrow – Nadal is 65-1 at Roland Garros (one of the great records in the history of sport) but importantly he has shown that he is over his back operation. He has a fantastic record at Wimbledon and I expect him to be very hard to beat there.

Murray is not everyone’s cup of tea but he’s one of my favourite sportspeople to watch. Along with Mo Farah I think he is Britain’s best sportsperson. We all know what will happen to his SPOTY price if he goes well at Wimbledon (SPOTY held in Glasgow this year too). I think he represents good value at 14s. You may wish to consider laying off some of your stake on Betfair where he is 4.4 for Wimbledon at the moment but could well go shorter in the next weeks. Murray also has the US Open later in the year.

If Murray doesn’t win Wimbledon then Froome has the opportunity to take centre stage later in July. The Tour starts in Britain this year so I expect there to be a fair amount of hype. Although I am not sure if Froome has the appeal to actually win SPOTY, I am sure he will trade fairly short straight after winning the Tour – at which time we can look to green our books. The beauty of this bet is that we can trade our stake for a short price in the Tour market.

He’s about evens for the Tour so if we back him for SPOTY and lay him for the Tour then we would need him to go shorter than c. 7/2 for SPOTY on winning the Tour for there to be value (i.e 7/1 for SPOTY % 1.89  for Tour) – I think that is very achievable (might expect him to go into 2/1 or shorter, assuming Murray hasn’t gone very short, which would be fine as we would be on!)

sports personality of the year betting analysis