WhichBookie racing analyst Andrew Blair White provides a preview and betting tips for races at Listowel and Warwick today.
Strictly Come Dancing 2020: Who Will Win? November 30th Update
At the start of the current series of Strictly, 19-year old Eastenders actress Maisie Smith and her partner Gorka Marquez were being tipped to win the glitterball trophy. Another young whippersnapper, 21-year old HRVY, was also highly fancied along with his dance dynamo partner Janette Manrara.
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Although both youngsters are deservedly still in the running, there is a new favourite to win who has astounded viewers with his amazing dancing ability and sheer joie de vivre – Bill Bailey, whose partnership with Oti Mabuse is going from strength-to-strength as the series moves towards its final three shows. 55-year old Bill, comedian and actor, started his Strictly journey as an outsider, with odds of 20/1 from BetFred but he is now favourite to win with odds of 10/11 from the same bookie. His jive on Saturday’s show, to Blondie’s iconic “One Way or Another”, was superb and the judges’ combined scores of 24 looked a trifle mean.
HRVY and Janette are now second favourites, after scoring a perfect 30 on Saturday with their Couple’s Choice routine. HRVY has been consistently excellent and it would need a major catastrophe for the singer/presenter to fail to reach the final in three weeks time. Bet365 offers odds of 5/2 that HRVY will win the 18th series of Strictly Come Dancing.
Maisie Smith is still very much in the running too, despite being in the dance-off for each of the previous two shows. Maisie and dance partner Gorka Marquez danced a terrific Quickstep to “When I’m Smiling” by Andy Williams and the couple scored 29 points. Will she win the show? Hmmn, tricky one this as the public hasn’t really warmed to her as yet. But she certainly has the dancing ability and Maisie is third favourite to win the show with odds of 13/2 from Irish bookie Paddy Power.
There are only three more celebrities left in the series now and each one of them will be astounded at their successful progress through the competition. 33-year-old JJ Chalmers and his partner Amy Dowden danced a great Viennese Waltz to “Rescue” by Lauren Daigle but, despite overwhelmingly positive praise from judges Shirley, Craig and Oti, JJ scored only 25 points. Perhaps they didn’t like his kilt? The former Royal Marine remains the rank outsider to win the competition with odds of 66/1 from most bookies, including BetFred and Paddy Power.
Jamie Laing has been teetering on the brink of leaving Strictly on several occasions now and he must be mightily relieved that he and partner Karen Hauer delivered a solid Tango to win the Sunday evening dance-off against Clara Amfo and Alijaz Skorjanec. The 31-year old Made in Chelsea star is soooo desperate to win and he is clearly giving 110% commitment but, nonetheless, Jamie remains a 33/1 outsider to win Strictly with those odds from Bet354.
Good Morning presenter and journalist Ranvir Singh showed her versatility this weekend as she changed tack from her commanding and passionate Argentine last week with partner Giovanni Pernice, to a sweet American Smooth, danced to “I Say a Little Prayer” by Aretha Franklin. Twenty four points was a solid result but, to be honest, Ranvir will need to up her game to stay in the competition as Bill Bailey et al are steaming ahead towards the final. Bookie BetFred offers odds of 10/1 that 43-year old Ranvir will win Strictly next month.
Next week’s show is Musicals Week and, with only two shows left before the final, we expect that the professional dancers will be pushing their proteges even harder to get them over the finish line. The judges’ assessments of the celebrities’ performances remain of paramount importance but public support is vital too and so nothing is a shoo-in at the moment. Watch the six remaining celebs and their dance partners next Saturday evening to see how they fare.
& Oti Mabuse
& Janette Manrara
& Gorka Marquez
& Giovanni Pernice
& Karen Hauer
& Amy Dowden
& Dianne Buswell
& Luba Mushtuk
& Aljaz Skorjanec
& Katya Jones
& Johannes Radebe
& Anton Du Beke
|Odds were correct at time of publishing but may be subject to change|
Strictly Come Dancing: Odds Update
The lack of a live audience really does dampen the feel-good factor of Strictly Come Dancing and we never realised how important hugs and kisses are until we don’t see them on the show. The good times will return, don’t fear, but in the meantime there are some pretty cringeworthy elements of the 18th series which the producers should address. The caterpillar of couples edging up the stairs for an awkward chat with presenter Claudia Winkleman is a case in point. But the end of the show took the biscuit – Jason and Luba’s lonely dance of defeat made uncomfortable viewing, like the awkward wedding dance of a newly-married couple but joyless and flat – champagne without those all-important bubbles.
Upbeat, smiley and positive are all fitting adjectives for the American former NFL star, Jason Bell. But he couldn’t raise a smile from the three judges last night and he and his dance partner, Luba Mushtuk, crashed out of Strictly following the dance-off against Nicola Adams and her partner, Katya Jones.
Jason and Luba were the second couple to leave the show, following Jacqui Smith and Anton Du Beke’s exit last week. Nicola Adams and Katya Jones will need to pull their sparkly socks up if they are to stay in the competition and they are favourites to leave next weekend with odds of 9/4 from bookmaker Bet365.
Celebrities Jamie Laing and JJ Chalmers are also reckoned to be on the chopping block next weekend, despite their marked improvements in both performance and confidence. Jamie Laing and pro partner Karen Hauer’s Charleston earned a creditable midtable score of 23 from the judges, but Jamie clearly needs to work on his upper body strength as he almost dropped poor Karen twice. He is no Hercules! Jamie and Karen are second favourites to leave with odds of 5/2 from Bet365, with JJ and his partner Amy Dowden not far behind with odds of 7/2.
JJ Chalmers finished third equal on the leaderboard with a score of 24 from the judges who were impressed with his foxtrotting performance with Amy. The ex-Royal Marine Commando has suffered 30 operations following the explosion of an IED in Afghanistan and the rigors of dance training cannot be easy for him but his week-on-week improvement is phenomenal. Strictly is not a show that starts with a level playing field as celebrity contestants like Maisie Smith already have dance experience so it’s uplifting to see JJ’s progress. Despite the bookie’s pessimistic predictions, we expect to see JJ and Amy dancing on Strictly for a wee while yet.
Clara Amfo is still looking shaky on the dancefloor (her face was a picture as the two couples were chosen for the elimination dances; she knows she’s got a mountain to climb) and her partner Alijaz Skorjanec will need to work hard with her to improve her confidence and dancing skills. She and Alijaz were third bottom on the leaderboard this weekend, scoring 20 for their tango and Bet365 provides odds of 7/1 that they will head home next weekend.
At the other end of the scale, hats off to comedian Bill Bailey and TV presenter Ranvir Singh. No prior dance experience? No problem! We acknowledge the brilliance of Maisie Smith, whose Frozen-themed American Smooth with Gorka Marquez was a joy to watch (note to BBC costume department – Elsa wears blue, never pink!) but, hey, she is a trained dancer so we viewers expect her to be good. But brilliant performances from amateurs is what Strictly is all about.
Bill Bailey and effervescent partner Oti Mabuse scored 26 for their Paso Doble and the couple are now favourites to lift the glitterball trophy with odds of 13/8 from Paddy Power. Who would have thought it at the start of the competition?
Ranvir Singh, too, continues to surprise under the sure-footed (sorry, couldn’t resist!) tutelage of partner Giovanni Pernice. The judges were most impressed by their stylish foxtrot, giving the couple the highest score of the night, 27 points…huge at this early stage in the competition. But it’s not enough to impress the bookmakers who have left her off the top three contenders to win Strictly – Bill, Maisie and HRVY (who merits a gold star for wearing his awful gnome outfit with such elan). HRVY and his partner Janette are 3/1 favourites to win the show, but the gnomely cha-cha disappointed the judges this time round, with only 21 points on the leaderboard.
Max George also had plenty of chutzpah as he played Homer to Dianne Buswell’s Marge in their performance of Street dance. The Wanted singer came third equal in the scoring, on 24 points, and remains in the mix with odds of 16/1 that he will win Strictly.
Let’s finish with Caroline Quentin who really is stealing the hearts of viewers. At 60 years of age, she is the oldest competitor but, my, she has charisma in bucket loads. Despite the distractedly awful green velvet frock she was sporting during her Couple’s Choice dance with partner Johannes Radebe, she drew with HRVY on 21 points. The woman who wanted to be a ballerina as a child is living her dream and loving it! Is she going to win Strictly? Our hearts say yes, our minds say no (and so do the bookies with odds of 20/1 from Skybet).
Strictly Come Dancing 2020: Episode 1 Breaks Records as Contestants Show Their Sequinned Mettle
Viewers returned in their droves to watch the first show of the Strictly Come Dancing competition, with viewing figures averaging 8.6 million, the highest rating since 2017. The format of Series 18 has changed and the roster of judges is now down to three – Shirley Ballas, Motsi Mabuse and Craig Revel Horwood. Sadly, the indomitable Bruno Tonioli is stranded in Los Angeles, due to his commitment to Dancing With The Stars and the impossibility of sustaining the weekly commute he has done for the past 15 years between the United States and the UK. Bruno, we will miss you!
But the show must go on and so it did, with the usual mix of joy, uncertainty, hope and fear on the faces of the 12 contestants as they met their new dance partners and performed in the first group dance at the end of the show. The bookies have been busy for a while ranking the contestants and the list below starts with their favourite, Eastenders actress Maisie Smith, and ends with former politician Rt Hon Jacqui Smith, who is tipped to be the first to leave the show.
Sadly, professional dancer Kevin Clifton is nowhere to be seen as he has upped sticks to work on the stage version of Strictly Ballroom. His legions of fans will be sorely disappointed!
But there is still a wealth of talented professional dancers ready to take the celebrity contestants through their paces. The professionals started the show with a number filmed in outdoor locations but the choice of music has been criticised – Ulta Nate’s Free and Rozalla’s Everybody’s Free – was it a joke, was it ironic, or was it tone deaf? We just don’t know.
There will be nine shows in total and this first show was dominated by the pairing-off of the celebrities with their dance partners. The dance at the end of the show provided the first opportunity to see the new couples in action en masse, and to assess whether or not the bookies’s odds are worth a punt at this early stage. If you’ve watched Strictly over the years, you may have noticed that young professional sportsmen and sportswomen, together with performers – musicians, actors and actresses – often trounce older and less sprightly celebrities. The aggregate age of the top five favourites to win the famous Glitterball trophy is 145, the average age of those languishing in the bottom five is 248. Fortune favours the young!
In fact, the youngest contestant is also tipped to win overall. 19-year old Maisie Smith, a stalwart at Eastenders since she was a nipper, is 6/4 favourite with bookmaker William Hill. She certainly looked the part on Saturday and her previous dance experience, including winning the Strictly Children in Need Special last year with Kevin Clifton, definitely showed. But head judge, Shirley Ballas, has rightly pointed out that – as the Scottish saying goes – there’s mony a slip twixt cup and lip. Well, she didn’t actually say that, but she did point out that “if I was Maisie I wouldn’t take anything for granted because doing one dance is not like doing ten weeks”.
One surprise in the launch episode was Bill Bailey, the 55-year old comedian and actor. Despite his modest manner, Bill’s initial performance was self-assured and Ballas was impressed, saying “He was rotating his hips, he was giving it some stick. And I thought, ‘Oh my Lord he is not only funny, he’s going to really give this a go’. I wasn’t expecting that”. Despite Shirley’s assessment, the bookies place him pretty far down the list with odds of 20/1 from BetFred.
JJ Chalmers, the 33-year old sports presenter, has suffered significant injury from an IED blast in Afghanistan nine years ago but the former Royal Marine reservist is determined to dance and we anticipate his current lowly position with the bookmakers will improve as the competition progresses, providing his professional dance partner Amy Dowden is creative in her choreography to accommodate his impaired physical capacity. Bookmaker Bet365 offers odds of 40/1 that JJ and Amy will win Strictly this year.
Saturday’s show was also notable for showcasing the first Strictly same-sex couple. Former Olympian double gold medal winner and WBO champion, 37-year old Nicola Adams, is paired up with Katya Jones. Nicola’s boxing career was cut short by an eye injury but her competitive spirit is undimmed. She is currently mid table according to bookie Bet365 which offers odds of 14/1 but it’s early days and we expect the bookmakers odds for all contestants will shift over the next few weeks.
Strictly Come Dancing 2020 will feature only nine shows this year and the number of contestants has been trimmed too. But we still expect that the new format, although slightly unfamiliar, will not put off the massive fanbase of the show. There is much still to enjoy and, as winter draws in, the lure of competitive dance, garnished with sequins and glitter, will help keep the United Kingdom entertained.
You can view the next Strictly Come Dancing show on Saturday 31 October at 7.25pm on BBC One. We’ve been told that there will be no Halloween special this year (and no visit to Blackpool) but we remain confident there will be some scary surprises!
The BBC’s flagship entertainment series, Strictly Come Dancing, returns to our screens this autumn with hosts Tess Daly and Claudia Winkleman at the helm once more. The 18th series is expected to be somewhat shorter than usual, with the Blackpool and Christmas specials cancelled, and no red carpet launch. The group performances will be pre-recorded and there will be quarantine requirements for the 12 contestants and their professional dance partners. Interestingly, too, tickets will be available to the public only for family/household groups of four. Registration for tickets closes on 20 September so you still have time to apply if you are a big fan of the show.
The line-up for the 2020 series is the usual eclectic mix of celebrities and near-celebrities across a wide age spectrum. This show favours the young and fleet-of-foot and it is no surprise that the bookmakers’ odds reflect this reality.
19-year old Eastenders actress, Maisie Smith, leads the pack with odds of 7/4 from bookie Betfred that she will lift the famous glitterball trophy shortly before Christmas. Maisie won the Strictly Children in Need special last year, cha-cha-ing to acclaim with one of the show’s favourite professionals, Kevin Clifton. She has been up front about her talents, saying “I’m not going to lie, I’ve got dancing experience. I’ve done a bit of hip-hop and street dance throughout my time but I have no technical ability at all”. Despite her self-deprecation, Maisie is definitely one-to-watch as a potential winner.
Former singer-songwriter with The Wanted, 31-year old Max George is also fancied to win, with odds of 13/2 from bookmaker BetVictor. Boy band members have a great track record on Strictly. Harry Judd from McFly triumphed in 2011 and Max’s fellow band member Jay McGuiness won the show back in 2015.
YouTube star, HRVY, is also tipped to do well and bookie 888Sport offers odds of 5/1 that the 21-year old will triumph. The singer and TV presenter, whose real name is Harvey Cantwell, is greatly looking forward to his Strictly experience and his tender age will surely be a positive as young’uns tend to be a little more flexible and fitter than older contestants.
Odds of 12/1 are on offer, from Bet365, for 31-year old Jamie Laing. The Made in Chelsea star was forced to pull out of last year’s series, due to injury, allowing Kelvin Fletcher to take his place. This was a great result for Kelvin – as he won the final with professional dance partner Oti Mabuse – but Jamie still feels he has something to prove, saying “I’m over the moon I actually get to come back and dance again. It’s going to be unbelievably amazing!”.
Boxing star, Nicola Adams, is also appearing on the show. The 37-year old, double-gold Olympic phenomenon, is breaking the mould by dancing with a female professional partner. She commented in The Guardian that by participating she will be “breaking boundaries and showing people that it’s ok”. Last year’s show featured a same-sex couple for one performance, professionals Johannes Radebe and Graziano Di Prima, and the 2020 show is making further efforts to foster inclusion and diversity. Bet365 offers odds of 14/1 for Nicola, putting her at level pegging with Jamie Laing at this early stage in the betting.
Jason Bell is the only former sportsman this time round, and the 42-year old American Football star is excited at the prospect of joining the show, saying “I am thrilled. I’m a huge fan of the show, I’ve been watching it since I came to this country”. If you fancy a flutter on Jason, bookmaker Bet365 offers odds of 9/1 that he will win the competition.
Caroline Quentin has enjoyed a hugely successful career as actress and broadcaster and the 60-year old is taking on the challenge of Strictly with her typical good humour, saying “I hope my knees don’t let me down and I hope the foundation garments live up to expectations when I start leaping about!. We are confident that the BBC costume department will not disappoint Caroline. Bookie Bet365 offers odds of 18/1 that she will win the series.
Clare Amfo, 36-year old Radio 1 presenter, has odds of 12/1 with bookie William Hill. She acknowledges the importance of the Strictly Come Dancing show to the nation’s psyche, saying “As we know this year has been a real challenge, and escapism through dancing is something I know we all enjoy”. Hear, Hear!
In the middle ranks of the dozen celebrities, we have Good Morning Britain presenter Ranvir Singh on 50/1 from Bet365 and JJ Chalmers, formerly of the Royal Marines and Invictus Games medalist, with odds of 40/1.
43-year-old Ranvir follows in the sparkly shoes of fellow GMB contestants of years past including Susanna Reid (runner-up in 2013), Richard Arnold and Charlotte Hawkins. She lacks belief in her abilities, saying “It feels like I’m on a rollercoaster…Hopefully after the first dance I will feel exhilarated rather than sick”.
John-James Chalmers is no stranger to adversity, having suffered severe injuries in Afghanistan during his service as Royal Marines reservist. The Scottish broadcaster acknowledges the challenge Strictly will place on him but declares himself ready to take it on!
Finally, we have the rank outsiders. Past series have shown us that some contestants may not have twinkle-toes but can, nonetheless, provide the viewers with top-flight entertainment nonetheless. Who can forget the irrepressible Mike Bushell on last year’s series, or Ann Widdecome a decade ago? Pure TV gold!
Comedian Bill Bailey knows he is unlikely to win that glitterball trophy, saying “I’m not Lord of the Dance, more Caretaker of the Dance”, but the 55-year old TV personality is willing to give it a go. Bookie William Hill offers odds of 20/1 that Bill will win the show.
Politician Jacqui Smith is even lower in the pecking order, with odds of 200/1 from bookmaker Bet365. The first female Home Secretary, in the Labour administration under former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, 57-year old Jacqui has no dancing experience that we know of, save a Scottish Highland dancing bronze medal achieved some 50 years ago. But you do not achieve high office in the government without grit and determination, and we are sure she will seek to prove the bookies wrong.
Strictly Come Dancing will launch on BBC One on Saturday 24 October, with the Final taking place on 19 December.