Fortuna favours the brave

Sep 17, 2009 by

Fortuna favours the brave

Today is like Christmas Eve for Strictly Come Dancing fans, and while it’s asking a lot to pick the winner before a single heel turn has been performed, we will endeavour to mark your card ahead of tomorrow night’s show, and the first 8 contestants taking to the floor to perform their ballroom routines.
Some would argue it’s better to keep your powder dry betting-wise until at least seeing all 16 couples dance. The dilemma is, that as soon as they have, the markets will be re-organised and much of the value snuffed out, so it’s worth taking an early position. You can do this based on what you know about the contestants, their professional dance partners, and the Strictly voting audience.
The dance standard this year can be expected to be higher than ever, with at least ten of the 16-strong field looking capable of dancing to the level of past Strictly winners. But the six we are most keen to keep on side before the off are Joe Calzaghe, Jade Johnson, Ali Bastian, Martina Hingis, Richard Dunwoody and Craig Kelly.
All these six, essentially, look the part in terms of dance potential and, just as vitally, have likeable pro partners who are solid all-rounders in both ballroom and Latin. This is why Laila Rouass doesn’t make the early list. She will likely be an excellent dancer and Anton Du Beke is everyone’s Mr Nice Guy but he has a track record of struggling with Latin which may scupper Rouass’s long-term potential.
Newcomers to the show, in terms of pro dancers, face a massive challenge, which is enough to put us off Ricky Whittle, Rav Wilding and Phil Tufnell, though Katya Virshilas could strike up an entertaining partnership with Tuffers in the way Kristina Rihanoff did in the last series with John Sergeant.
The winning contestant must marry a winning personality with excellent dance ability, but the nature of the elimination procedure means Strictly is weighted far more heavily towards dance ability than pure charisma now.
It still remains far harder for female contestants to win the show outright due to the show’s voting demographic. Accusations are levelled at them if they appear to be trying too hard, or are too grovelly, or too fragile emotionally, or come across as insincere. It’s a long list and a far longer one than the male celebrities are confronted by. That said, with the judges having the final say, female contestants can still go far without receiving the popular vote, as seen in the progress of Lisa Snowdon and Rachel Stevens last year.446bastian2
The one female likely to tick most boxes is Ali Bastian. She’s dancing with Brian Fortuna who joined the show last year and who has rapidly been taken to the hearts of the Strictly faithful due to his kind and courteous demeanour, excellent mentoring, and hugely impressive dancing. And you only need read Fortuna’s ‘Tweets’ over the last few weeks to get a sense of Bastian’s potential:
‘Ali is doing so great. Can’t wait till show night!’
‘Practice makes perfect. We’re busy rehearsing today. Ali is awesome…can’t say that enough’
‘Final tweaks for Friday. Polishing our routines. We are very excited, hope to blow everyone away.’
Fortuna has built a huge following on Twitter to boot, and in pure dancing terms Brian and Ali could prove a sizzling combination. As such Bastian holds strong Top Female claims at a best priced 5-1, and 12-1 each-way on the outright market could look big provided she and Brian can navigate their way through the choppy waters of week one.

Rob Furber

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