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SPOTY: full betting guide

30 Nov 11 09:22
Mark Cavendish (Odds to win at the time of publication 2.16)
The punter who had a few shekels matched at 100.0 is now looking at a juicy trade with Cavendish the 2.18 favourite. Cav occupies his usual position at the front of the field by dint of finishing at the front of the field many times in the Tour de France as he landed the green jersey for top sprinter. In a golden year he also became world road race champion, Britain's first for 46 years. As the BBC point out, the only other Brit to land that crown - Tommy Simpson in 1965 - was also SPOTY champ. Cycling is growing in popularity in the UK and the Manxman is a worthy favourite.

Darren Clarke (3.45)
In any normal year a home golfer who had won The Open would be a shoo-in but Clarke cedes favouritism in 2011. Nevertheless, few golfers are as popular as the large-living northern Irishman and he is a very lively contender. A lack of notable success since winning at Sandwich explains his drift from odds-on to the current 3.45.

Mo Farah (9.2)
Athletics often provides the SPOTY winner and Farah could be poised to follow up on the recent successes of Kelly Holmes and Paula Radcliffe after a sterling World Championships. Farah, a 28-year-old of Somali descent, won 5,000m gold and 10,000m silver in Daegu. In recent years, podium spots in these two events have been reserved for the giants of middle-distance running - Ethiopia and Kenya, basically - making Farah's achievement all the more impressive. Sure to weigh heavily in his favour are the simultaneously heart-breaking and heart-warming images of Farah coming up short in the 10,000m, but gaining redemption with his 5,000m win just days later. Against him, is the fast that the action was on Channel 4 and thus not receiving the boost the BBC brings to these events.

Rory McIlroy (9.8)
Rounding out the list of likely winners is another Major winner - young Rors, who lifted the US Open with a stunning performance at Congressional where he simply destroyed the field. It could, probably should, have been so much better of course as McIlroy held the third round lead at The Masters before collapsing in almost embarrassing fashion. That very public display, shown live on the BBC, will garner sympathy but it was a losing display, while only a tiny minority will have seen the US Open win. Could McIlroy's 700,000+ Twitter followers play a decisive role, however?

Luke Donald (50.0)
A third golfer rounds out the top five and that concentration from one sport will surely dilute the voting too much for Donald to have a say. It has been a wonderful year for Luuuuuuuke, the current world no.1, who has finished in the top 10 of countless tournaments. But the lack of a Major win will surely count against him.

Alastair Cook (65.0)
It's been a stellar year for Cook, who carted India's bowlers to all corners of England's Test arenas as the national team rose to the top of the rankings, having already bigged the Aussies for 766 runs in the Ashes series of 2010-11. Will it be enough? At 65.0 the market clearly suggest not, but don't dismiss the popularity of cricket in the UK and the fans may want to salute the England team's achievements in 2011. Cook may be a top three bet, but the 4.8 quote seems a tickle skinny.

Amir Khan (110.0)
Does winning one fight really deserve the prized SPOTY silverware? Highly doubtful. Khan is in on the strength of beat Zab Judah in July's light-welterweight unification fight. The Boltonian will get a better shot at this, but only after an eye-catching winning run against more famous opponents in future years.

Dai Greene (140.0)
The second athlete on the list was Britain's only other gold medallist at the 2011 World Championships, Welshman Greene who won the 400m hurdles. But while Farah trades at 9.2 for SPOTY glory, Greene is a whopping 140.0. Two medals are quite obviously better than one here and athletics voters will surely go for the middle distance man.

Andrew Strauss (210.0)
The captain of England's all-conquering Test team can bask in the squad's glory, but there's little personal achievement to look back on with no centuries during the defeats of India. He did get an OBE though, which we're sure he's very proud of.

Andy Murray (200.0)
In truth this has been a very good year for Murray, who until last week was ranked the world's third best player. But with no Grand Slam victory, there's nothing exceptional to attract the sufficient weight of votes required.

Recommended Bets
3pts Back Mark Cavendish to win @ 2.16
1pt Back Mo Farah to win @ 9.2
1pt Back Alastair Cook for top 3 @ 4.8
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