The Fuzz: Thursday April 8th
It's all about the finishing line
Hello again from the inner workings of William Hill - just in case this is your first taste of The Fuzz, I'll be here every week talking decent bets, quirky web links and other stuff and nonsense.
We'll cover stallions getting their legs over, a race with a much smaller field, making hay and a Dinky dabble on the Masters.
Let's start with a man who could become the greatest footballer of his generation. Lionel Messi. His name has got to be the most inappropriate in football if you don't count Andrey Arshavin (I'm informed it's as smooth as a baby's), former Germany player Stefan Kuntz (no need for the plural) and David Goodwillie (the girls of Dundee say not).
Messi is, according to some pundits, better than Maradona at the same age, but to be fair one area where he hasn't shone (yet) is in the blue and white of Argentina. Before I talk World Cup his stats are startling. He is 22 and this season has scored anywhere ranging from 37 to 41 goals in 37 to 49 starts in all competitions (depending on your source). He has won every trophy at club level and also almost every individual honour in world football, plus he seems like a decent bloke too. Admittedly the only proof I have of that is googling "Messi controversy". All that came up was an interesting tale about the man who guards his diminutive body on international duty.
Argentinian newspaper Ole claims his bodyguard Ariel Pugliese, affectionately known as El Gusano (The Worm), is a senior member of the infamous hooligan organisation, Los Perales de Nueva Chicago (The Pear Trees Of Nueva Chicago - who are an Argentine second division club). I'm no fighter but I'd fancy my chances against fellas who call themselves Pear Trees?!?
Back to the Young Lion and a few prices for him at the World Cup. Messi is 10/1 to win the Golden Boot in South Africa and it's 33/1 for him to do that and Maradona's men to win the trophy.
Before we talk sweepstakes and big fences, give me a paragraph of your time on the Premier League. Last week I said I couldn't believe how big Chelsea were at 13/8 (this week they are 8/13 - a tenner difference in your betting account to a £10 stake should they lift the trophy). I still think the compilers are on the back foot to be honest. The prices are now 9/4 for United, while Arsenal have been cut to 9/2. There are three points between the trio, Arsenal have a week to get over their Champions League exit, while Chelsea play a Cup semi final and are at home to Bolton next midweek. Meanwhile United go to a very good home side in Blackburn this weekend, without a typical German in sight. Incidentally of the four players who got in the ref's face at Old Trafford only one was German - if you're going to be jingoistic Fergie at least get your facts right. Anyway I still have a sneaking fancy for Arsenal, but it's as tight as Gordon Brown's smile.
Speaking of our great leader the Election is priced up and there are some interesting bets. Not least 13/8 that there will be a hung parliament. It's 4/9 there won't be. I'll try to be brief just in case you're not interesting in politics. Basically because of boundary changes since the last GN, the Tories need an extra 116 seats than Michael Howard and Co managed in 2005 to have a majority government. Add the fact that it takes more votes to elect a Con MP (because Labour seats tend to have smaller electorates and a lower turnout) AND the fact that they need a 7% swing to form a majority government (not even Maggie Thatcher did that after the winter of discontent in 1979) and Cameron's got a bigger job on his hands than Gazza's counsellor.
My other cheeky bet is 7/1 that Vince Cable will deliver the first budget - if you agree there will be a hung parliament, the Lib Dems won't get into bed with Cameron and Cable will get the big job as part of the negotiations with Labour (bearing in mind Alastair Darling should be in that list with Messrs Messi, Kuntz, Goodwillie and Arshavin.)
Let's move on to another race that will see millions spent, obstacles at every turn, plenty of mud thrown, loads of Character Building, potentially a Dream Alliance and by the end we may all be saying Big Fella Thanks (but no thanks).
The four million two hundred thousand and fifty fourth running of the Grand National is almost upon as - you can tell by the sound of the bosses at William Hill rubbing their hands together as people who should know better make their annual visit to the betting shop or struggle to remember their username and password.
One quick story from 2001, when you'll remember only four horses finished. I was working for William Hill Radio and had been given 4 horses with good chances by our experts. I backed two of them and texted them to my mates.
On the day I wasn't working and didn't bother to ring in to check for any late tips. They probably wouldn't have answered the phone to be fair because some were running to cash points getting as much out as possible to put on Red Marauder, while the rest were writing out IOUs as they piled it up online.
The insiders knew it was a mud bath, Red Marauder would stay and they won thousands ... I lost because, although the eventual winner was one of the four, it wasn't one of the two I backed! Typical.
Incidentally one of our commentators at the time was Malcolm Tomlinson and he did best of all. He won quarter of a mill when Red Marauder crossed the line. It was the clincher for him in the Racing Post's Ten To Follow competition.
I'm not going to pretend to know what's going to win ... instead I will follow Ross Brierley's tip. He won me plenty at Cheltenham and regular listeners to William Hill's brilliant racing radio will know he studies and takes his betting on the geegees seriously. He says Arbor Supreme, because it's " had good prep, is the right age and weight and has a top trainer." Or maybe I'll pick a nice name instead!
Quick mention for my fav sports broadcaster Steve Bunce. He went one better than saying a late stoppage on William Hill's boxing podcast by predicting this in his preview of Haye v Ruiz in the Independent: "Haye will win in about nine rounds and move closer to becoming the best heavyweight of his generation, which is all that he needs to be right now." TKO Round 9! BOOM.
Bet well and good luck.
Ps. Ta Chad.
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