Thursday, August 02, 2007

UK: All bets are on Great White shark!

YOU may think this column offers some strange bets, and you'd be right. But last December I drew your attention to what appeared to be a completely off-the-wall bet.

This is what I wrote in our Hogmanay edition: "Totesport bookmakers are offering 25-1 that a great white shark will be caught off Britain next year. With global warming making this almost inevitable - great whites are sighted further north each year - all it will take is for one specimen of Jaws to make a wrong turn and to end up on this side of the Atlantic, so the bet is worth snapping up."

On Friday came an alleged sighting on video of a great white off Cornwall. And if you can see 'em, you can catch 'em. And funnily enough, when I contacted Totesport yesterday they told me they had closed the book on a "British" Jaws being caught.

A princely plan is hatched

CALLING Prince Harry! Sir, I know your family is not short of a shilling, but a lad in the services can always do with some extra pocket money. Can I therefore draw your attention to the market created by Irish bookmaker Paddy Power on the Harry Potter books.

The Dublin dafties are offering 16-1 on you dressing up as Harry Potter at Hallowe'en. All you have to do is get a couple of Irish mates to place a few bets over there before October 31, then pop down to the local costume shop and get yourself a wizard's hat, a big pair of specs, a wand and a fake lightning scar.

A couple of paparazzi shots later, and hey presto, you'll be quids in and all perfectly legal.
You could also get your dad to tell his friend the Pope that Paddy Power are offering 33-1 on His Holiness declaring the Harry Potter books to be blasphemous.

Think of the killing Buckingham Palace and the Vatican could make at those odds.

At you'll also see they are offering 12-1 that JK Rowling will win the Man Booker prize this year. Avoid that one, sir, as the literary set can't stand Harry Potter.

Stick to dressing up as a wizard - it's a sure thing.

Ladbrokes do the running

SCEPTICAL about betting-in-running?

A lot of sports betting fans think the whole thing is a big con, and that the odds rarely vary, but Ladbrokes have just provided me with extensive proof that, on some occasions, betting-in-running can provide some very big changes in the odds, which in turn gives shrewd punters a real chance to make money.

The price changes on Padraig Harrington and Sergio Garcia during last Sunday's wonderful finish to the Open Championship are very instructive. The former began the tournament a 25-1 shot, the latter a good each-way bet at 33s. By Sunday morning, the Irishman was still 20s, while then leader Garcia was 1-2.

At 2.59pm Garcia was 1-4, and Harrington still 16s, but an hour later the picture had changed. The Irishman was on a roll and his odds were down to 8-1, while Garcia's early problems had him back to evens.

It is fascinating to see how the odds fluctuated hole-by-hole from then on - those Ladbrokes' layers certainly earn their money. By 5pm Garcia was 5-2, the same odds as Harrington, and as he reached the 18th, the Irishman had moved up in the betting and was 11-10, with Garcia having been as big as 9-2 out on the course.

In the play-off, Harrington went off 4-5 favourite and was soon 1-7 and then 1-50, while Garcia began at evens and went out to 12-1 before the last.

The odds "trail" proves that betting-in-running can be exciting and profitable for some - congratulations to the Ladbrokes' punter who backed the eventual winner each-way to the tune of £5,000 when he was 25-1.

The Magic Sign were also forced to pay out on their Carnoustie specials. One of the offers was the "Van der Velde" bet of 16-1 that a player would lead on 72nd hole and hit the water. Harrington duly obliged by hitting into the Barry Burn twice. And no, he didn't have a bet on himself to do that.

Long range punters might care to know that Harrington is 16-1 with Ladbrokes to retain his Open title, and Sergio Garcia is 25-1 to go one better next year at Royal Birkdale. The Spaniard is also 3-1 not to win a major before he retires from the sport. Sergio is only 27 and could conceivably play until his late forties, so I don't think I'll be investing on something that might take 20 years to happen.


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