Ben The Behemoth?

Dec 13, 2014 by

Ben The Behemoth?

The wise TV betting market investor never sleeps, and never leaves Betfair switched off. It still haunts me when I found myself driving along the M11 when news broke John Sergeant had pulled out of Strictly.

I had built up a five figure green on him at huge odds and had watched with delight as his price plummeted. But with no chance of getting online, all my Betfair backs were wiped out.

This morning saw an epic tv betting market plunge after the Daily Star broke the news Ben picked up 50% of the semi-final vote, with Fleur taking 22% of the vote and Andrea 16%. The Daily Star has a stellar track record with its vote leaks so it would be very dangerous to doubt the veracity of this story.

If you were fast you could make hay on this news. Taken as fact, clearly the prices were wrong, and since the story broke Ben has understandably been smashed into favourite, trading at 1.69 at time of writing.

It has proved a bad idea to take on the Syco machine in this series as it has been deadly getting the outcomes it wants. Series-long they haven’t got fully behind Ben but they haven’t properly tried to put him away either. The Fleur ramps, if the Daily Star leak is correct, look to have been all about steering her to the final. It is probably safe to assume she was the one only 800 votes above Lauren in the quarter-final.

We have also seen in previous finals, especially when they pimped James Arthur and put away Jahmene, they can be brilliant exponents in the dark arts as much in the final as the rest of the series but given the Daily Star leak it seems unlikely they will be visiting Ben Haenow’s gospel church as part of his VT.

Looking back on past series, Joe McElderry received 42% in his semi back in 2009. Matt Cardle 36% in 2010, Little Mix 34% in 2011 and James Arthur collected 41% of the vote in his semi-final in 2012. If this leak is correct, Ben’s 50% share to her 22% represents a huge deficit Fleur needs to bridge if she is to overhaul him.

Fleur will reprise her triumphant moment from last week, Uptown Funk, while Andrea gets his week 1 pimp, Earth Song, which to my ears sounded horrendous first time around, but received big fanfare, and Ben gets week 5’s Man In The Mirror which is probably his MOR sweet spot.

‘Demons’ by Imagine Dragons should suit Ben well enough, while Fleur rapping ‘Can’t Hold Us’ isn’t exactly the traditional route taken to XF victory. Andrea has ‘Feeling Good’ and Tulisa to mentor him as Mel B misses the show tonight due to illness. He does look most likely booked for 3rd, though 6% isn’t that much to make up on Fleur if it was a fair race, which of course it won’t be.

Ben and Fleur being given the same winner’s song, while Andrea gets a Whitney song, may point the way to the final two – and possibly the desire for TPTB to have the two contestants never to have hit the bottom 2, Ben and Fleur, going head-to-head on Sunday night.

It is very much hoped here that Ben and Fleur are the final two having advised a Fleur/Ben final two, in either order, at 16-1 with Ladbrokes, one of the rare XF investments flagged up here in this series that has the chance to land. If you have taken that ‘final 2’ bet, it is probably wise to cover on the Ben-Andrea straight forecast, generally 9-1.

In Strictly, it is the semi-final and Mark has the misfortune to be lumbered with a rumba at this critical juncture. He dodged a bullet last week when the judges somewhat surprisingly eulogised him for his foxtrot when you sensed the writing was on the wall for him to exit.

Simon appeared to be set up for a bottom 2 appearance last week. He was the first to perform and his American Smooth was very forgettable in the context of the evening. It looked like a pre-conceived plan to save him in the dance-off and thus tee him up to bounce to the final. Whether they intended Pixie to be his dance-off competitor is harder to gauge but series-long you have got the distinct impression she has been struggling with the public vote.

Expect to see Simon awarded the pimp slot tonight for his samba, and the judges to be pulling out 10s for him. With a foxtrot up his sleeve too, he may well top the leaderboard.

Mark has a VW which will be scored higher than his rumba but he looks likely to be vying for bottom of the leaderboard with Jake. Jake has a VW and a Cha, Cha, Cha. ‘Boogie Shoes’ is a bit of a strange song choice for his CCC, which fits with the trend for Jake to get poor songs in recent weeks.

You do still wonder if Jake isn’t TPTB’s ideal winner this year. If he lands bottom 2 with Mark it would not be surprising to see the judges ditch him. He is not doing the Strictly Tour which must be seen as a slight negative.

We saw last year with the treatment of Sophie, that these days they perhaps do not want to have a winner who doesn’t go on to tour. If Jake gets through tonight, it will be interesting to see the ‘judge’s choice’ he will have to dance first in the final, followed by his showdance. They may yet look to do a Sophie on him, and try and get him out first in the final, so he doesn’t get the chance to reprise his salsa, much like Sophie never got to do her Charleston again. But he may be too much of voting behemoth (like XF’s Ben) to topple.

The dancer with all the momentum in recent weeks is Caroline following her superb Charleston and Argentine Tango. Caroline has a party-pleasing salsa, and a foxtrot. Frankie, who has dipped in form recently, is maybe due a bounce back and has the Argentine Tango to impress with, along with the rumba which is certainly much easier for a female dancer to score highly with compared to a male.

If Jake is topping the public vote he is going to be difficult to steer into the bottom 2 and if they take the maximum pimpage route with Simon to ensure his safety, it could be either Caroline or Frankie who joins Mark in the bottom 2. Of course, like Jake, Frankie hasn’t been bottom 2 yet either.

At time of writing, there are no highest or lowest score markets. Hopefully they appear later. Keep an eye on Comments for Strictly recommendations and tomorrow for an X Factor final update.


Ben-Andrea – straight forecast – 9-1 – 2pt win – Boylesports



  1. Rob

    Coral now have highest/lowest scorer betting. The value looks to be Simon to top score, Jake to lowest score.


    Simon – highest score – 4pt win – 5-2 – Coral
    Jake – lowest score – 2pt win – 9-2 – Coral

  2. Rob

    Jake in coffin slot & lukewarm response to his CCC:


    Jake – next elimination – 8-1 – 2pt win – widely available

  3. Rob

    Mark vs Jake in the dance-off – Jake OUT

  4. M8

    Feeling like buying TPTB a pint after that wonderful burial of Jake. Great result well done Rob and anyone who got on, bookies messed up big time. Simon finishing 4th next week would be perfect as it’d bag Mark the top man spot that I placed back when he had those tears in week 4-5 (the bet I’m most proud of so far). Can go into next week relaxed whatever the result. I can’t stand Kevin though so I would probably prefer a Caroline win.

    • Rob

      Thanks M8 – looks like your book is in great shape. 🙂

      Yes, they properly put Jake away tonight. 10-1 earlier in the week looked huge & 8-1 tonight still massive. Another good night in terms of the weekly markets.

      I have backed Mark at decent odds to be Top Male but stand to win more if Simon is Top Male – looks like that could be very close between the 2 of them.

  5. Henry VIII

    Great tip re Jake, and the Mark or Simon top man. I didn’t even see Strictly last night with all the XF happenings.

    If Caroline wins SCD, and she is the most interesting imo, does this mean that a bit of passion in dance and a great

    personality can beat those who are technically superior? I think we might have seen a bit of that with Abbey and Kara.

    • Rob

      Hi henry. It seems to have been more a case of putting away those dancers not signed up to the Strictly tour – Pixie and Jake.

      It has looked as if they wanted to latch onto 1 of the other remaining females – going big on the narrative of Caroline not being a dancer (In the way Frankie & Pixie had previous dance experience).

      I think this series is still up for grabs – voting will increase massively in the final, & it could yet be who wows on the night, especially with the showdance.

  6. Tim B

    Congratulations Rob, you’ve made several great calls recently. I haven’t been involved much in the Strictly markets but I backed Caroline to win heavily yesterday afternoon, so obviously I was delighted when she was given the SF pimp slot, as Abbey was given last year, and four 10s for her second dance. The curse of not being on the tour did it for Jake.

    I really hope that Ben wins XF, and I think he will easily. It would shove two fingers up to TPTB who have been desperately promoting average Fleur for several weeks. To be honest, I was surprised when she got through ahead of Andrea tonight. Despite her getting to reprise Uptown Funk, I don’t think she can win. Ben was excellent in the Saturday final and has probably topped the vote, quite deservedly imo.

    • Rob

      Thanks Tim. I am also very much in the Ben camp, more so after the D.Star story & that golden opportunity yesterday morning to trade your way to guaranteed bigger profit.

      I felt the tone was very much of Fleur needing the votes to reach the last 2 last night. I expect Ben to win & like you, hope he wins not just from a financial perspective but because of the favouritism for Fleur & the ramp-athon for her led by Cowell which has been obscene.

  7. fiveleaves

    Not posted for ages, but some great tips as always Rob
    They really did a job on Jake. Lukewarm comments for him while pushing the other 4 despite some very average performances.
    Caroline’s Salsa and Frankie’s AT were the only 2 dances worthy of the praise.

    I agree it’s all to play for in the final. Mark has no chance, but any of the other 3 could win

    Simon and Frankie both have some obvious choices for the final. Simon his AT and QS. Frankie her Paso & Tango
    The problem for Caroline is her best dance was her Charleston.
    That was performed with a host of backing dancers. Will they allow that in the final? If not then will it have the same impact.
    Her CCC a possible for her. It didn’t score highly as it was the 1st dance in the 1st week, but without any mistakes could easily score 40
    As for a ballroom she’s really struggling, as to put it bluntly she’s not very good at them. The AmSm is a possible I guess. Otherwise maybe her AT, but it’s not in the same class as Simon’s or Frankie’s last night.

    So it’s advantage Frankie and Simon when it comes to the dances.
    As for popularity on the face of it you’d say it’s either Frankie or Caroline. Frankie no B2’s and Caroline just the one and it was early. Simon with 3 would suggest he’s not polling well but of all of them he’s probably my favourite now
    I’ve enjoyed his journey from cocky, rather overconfident, to disheartened, due to his B2’s and obviously finding it harder than he originally thought he would and then in recent weeks growing in confidence again with some great performances

    As for the XF, I suspect dullard Ben will win. My heart is still with Fleur. I think it would be great for the show if she won rather than the same old MOR tripe. I’m not confident though.

    • Rob

      Thanks for posting, fig. Some great analysis of upcoming Strictly final. Really hope Simon gets to reprise his AT, and his Quickstep was superb too, as you point out.

      Interesting thoughts re. Caroline & would suggest her price will be unjustiably short when BF market re-opens.

      Time for some Miss World on the E! channel 🙂

  8. fiveleaves

    Miss World for me too. I can’t find E on my Virgin telebox, so relying on youtube
    Any ideas what time the results will be announced?

    And cheers. I do think Caroline is too short now given doubts over the feasibility of her reprising her one killer dance

  9. Rob

    Sticking with the view, Ben most likely to win tonight.

    Nice to land the Ben-Fleur ‘final 2’ bet at 16-1.

    Big night with SPOTY 2014 too. Good luck all 🙂

  10. Rob

    XF results initial verdict:

    – Lauren properly done over by TPTB because Cowell decided to get fully behind Fleur instead. Lauren a much easier sell & could have won with some backing.

    – D.Star leak most likely phone votes only, & not including app vote.

  11. M8

    You have to wonder if Lauren was trouble backstage at all. I know there was something about her shacking up with OTY. She was properly done over. I had a decent amount on her to win alone before the lives but quickly cashed that out the week before big band and didn’t dip into the market again.

    As for Strictly, I’m not convinced by the Simon hype I’m afraid. Simply due to his few appearances in the dance off and the fact that he doesn’t seem as likeable to the floating voter. What Simon does have in his favour is the ability to pull out a showstopping routine providing he doesn’t mess up. I wonder whether Frankie can do the same. I’m confident BBC really want Caroline to win, if only to get her signed up for her presenting duties. That would be a real slap in the face for Cowell & co.

    To summarise my book I have big greens on Caroline and Frankie & significant greens on Mark and Simon. Simon finishing 4th would as I mentioned earlier in the thread nail the Mark top man bet (going against Rob’s big Simon top man green 😉 I think it’ll be really close between them 2 for 4th and Simon could win the whole thing if he escapes it. Good luck for next week everyone and I’ll drop a comment in here following the final.

    • Rob

      I think Cowell maybe simply saw bigger potential bucks in Fleur, M8. They did seem to want to package Lauren as a young pop star who could also dance, which clearly wasn’t her bag. Maybe this was also a clever way to differentiate Fleur more as a bonafide ‘pop performer’.

      The decision to ditch Lauren in the semi is a real sickener having backed her heavily pre-lives e/w & given she outpolled Andrea. I really don’t get what ‘extra’ he offered the final.

      He over-sang horribly and was the ultimate one trick pony. I certainly don’t go along with the view he was the best vocalist in the competition. Lauren was infinitely superior when at her best and given the chance to shine with suitable songs (which was notably rare).

  12. Rob


    Caroline and Pasha will be performing their Showdance to Beverly Knight’s version of ‘Angels’.

    Frankie and Kevin will be performing their Showdance to ‘Get Happy’ by Judy Garland.

    Mark and Karen will be performing their Showdance to ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ by Queen.

    Simon and Kristina will be performing their Showdance to ‘A Little Less Conversation’ by Elvis Presley.

    All four finalists will perform the Judges’ pick first and later their showdance. After this the finalist with the lowest number of votes will be eliminated at the beginning of the results show. Then the three remaining finalists will perform their favourite routine of the series.

    Favourite dance:

    Caroline and Pasha will be reliving their bazaar Charleston to ‘Istanbul (Not Constantinople)’ that they performed in Around the World Week.

    Frankie and Kevin will be reviving their West Side Story inspired Paso Doble that they first performed in Movie Week.

    Mark and Karen will be performing their Samba to ‘That’s The Way I Like It’ for a second time, they first performed this in Week Five.

    Simon and Kristina have chosen to perform their Argentine Tango to ‘Roxanne’ that they first performed in Blackpool.

    Showdance training footage:

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