Cavendish, Clarke, Cook – sailing the 3 ‘c’s to Salford riches

Dec 21, 2011 by

It’s the annual, pre-Christmas, glittzy, red carpet sporting bash, aka SPOTY 2011, tomorrow night, live from sexy, spangly… Salford. It doesn’t quite carry the same kudos as London’s BBC Television Centre but no matter because one thing will be the same – the cringeworthy presentation. As is the order of the day, excessive hype and extended montages incorporating horrendous, heart-felt power-ballads will be crow-barred into the night, ratcheting up the emotion to the max.
On to the good news: we’re confident of picking the winner, which would usually be music to the ears of any punter, but not in this instance as the sportsman in question is one Mark Cavendish, who is currently trading at a best price of 4-11.
If you have 11 grand spare, for a 4 grand take home, this is a reasonable punt, given Harry Judd was trading around the same price ahead of last Saturday’s Strictly final, and Cavendish looks more of a certainty than Judd.
The ‘Vote Cav’ online campaign has been priming people for this night for some time now, so he has a motivated, multi-voting fan base who will surely thrust him to victory.
The main betting interest lies in trying to predict who finishes 2nd and 3rd. The great imponderable is the split golf vote, and how things pan out for Messrs Clarke, McIlroy and Donald. If this vote ends up divided quite evenly, it might even allow 2 other contenders to place on the podium.
Of the 3 golfers, Clarke has the biggest story behind his win in our view, and the fact his victory came in the iconic British Open which is a staple of the British sporting summer, can only help him. Being leading prize money earner, and receiving end of season plaudits, as Donald has done, cuts little mustard with the average sports fan tuning in, who will be far more motivated by a headline achievement.
Of the 3 golfers we reckon Clarke will poll highest, McIlroy – who himself can call upon a degree of sentiment behind his first Major win at the US Open after his US Masters implosion – 2nd highest, and Donald last.
The other tricky one to assess is quite where Mo Farah figures on the average sports fan’s radar. A gold and a silver at the athletics world championships was quite an achievement but this event was tucked away on Channel 4 and not watched by that many. Dai Greene will also take some of the athletics vote away from him, and has the patriotic Welsh voting lobby to call upon.
As for the cricketers, their rise to world number 1 in test cricket for the first time ever, white-washing the then world number 1 India, 4-0,  and winning the Ashes on foreign soil for the first time in 24 years, drubbing the Aussies 3-1, is in our view the greatest achievement of the sporting year by quite some distance. But they are hamstrung by lack of live terrestrial coverage and being tucked away on Sky Sports where Premiership football rules the roost and dominates the psyche of Joe Public.
They will deservedly win Team Of The Year – the fanfare they receive for this surely acting as a boost for both Strauss and Cook’s vote on the individual award – but if there was a photofit of the ideal sportsman to be taken to the hearts of the Beeb’s core, middle England audience, it would be the well spoken, well educated, and thoroughly likable and good looking chap that is Alistair Cook. For this reason, we think he is a viable candidate to place behind Cavendish.
Strauss, as England captain, is as deserving of the plaudits, and may take some of Cook’s vote, but Cook’s remarkable exploits with the bat give him the personal ‘story’ and we reckon he will be one of the top 5, and is in the mix for 2nd or 3rd with Clarke, McIlroy and Farah.
As a top 3 punt, Al Cook is certainly good value, currently trading at 7.4 on Betfair, and available at 11-2 with Totesport and Betfred. Strauss is no forlorn hope either and we certainly wouldn’t put you off throwing a few quid at the 35-1 he is top 3 with Paddy Power, and taking anything bigger than that on Betfair. We would also suggest laying Donald to finish top 3 at anything around 4 and also laying Farah at anything around 1.5 as this simply looks far too short.
We think the most likely 1-2 remains Cavendish-Clarke but we do not have enough conviction to support this view financially at restrictive odds of 5-2. It looks extremely tight to us for 2nd and 3rd, and we would rather recommend the Cav-Cook straight forecast at 25-1 with bet365 and Victor Chandler.
In head-to-head betting we think the value resides in backing McIlroy at 6-4 with bet365 up against Farah, McIlroy defeating Donald at 4-7, again with bet365, and Clarke beating Farah at 4-5, also with bet365.
Rob Furber

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