Weekly Blog – Labour Leader, Tour De France, Belgian Grand Prix

Roy The Boy's weekly blog reviews the Tour De France, looks at the Labour Leader contest and also takes an early look at the Belgian Grand Prix from Spa. He also likes Paris for the 2024 Summer Olympics.

Tour route vital to destination of tour investments

Twelve months ago I was all over Alejandro Valverde in the Tour de France.  I knew I was only really playing for the each-way money but there’s nothing wrong with that when you are on something at 33’s and 50’s!

The Spaniard held a safe third position for the final week of the tour but managed to drop the baton on the final day in a time trial.  This year, with the final day involving the gruelling climb up the Alpe d’Huez he comfortably maintained third position behind repeat winner Chris Froome and next year’s winner Nairo Quintana.  Valverde does not do time trials well.

Now I say next year’s winner, but so much depends on those time trials and how many mountains they are set to climb.  Once the 2016 route is made public we will know a lot more and I for one will be ready to pounce.

Given plenty of Pyrenees and Alp stages and few/shortened time trials I’ll take 6/4 about the 25-year-old Quintana now.  Given a less demanding course and three-plus time trials and I’d be a layer at 4/1.

This year there was two time trials, measuring 13.8km and 28km (on day 1 and day 9), last year there was just one on day 20 (measuring 54km). 2013 meanwhile, it had three (days 4, 11 and 17).

The 2016 tour route will be revealed on October 20th. It will be decisive and I doubt the bookmakers with a full eight months until the race will show any reaction to it amongst their books which already sees Froome the 6/4 favourite (at Boyles, Ladbrokes) and Quintana 9/4 (Powers, Hills).

Spanking ‘em with their pants down

I love catching the bookies with their Y-fronts around their ankles.  I nearly got Sportingbet this week with a chunky each-way bet on Daniel Ricciardo in the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Seemingly unaware that his Red Bull had shown its liking for the short-sharp Hungarian circuit – or probably simply forgetting to close their book at the start of free practice – they were going 100/1 about the Australian, who won the race last year, at a time when he was top-priced 33’s anywhere else.

I’ll not dwell on the details too much, after all I am still wiping the sick from my laptop screen, but he lost his front wing (necessitating a pit-stop) whist taking second place and in position to chase down the leading car which was going slower than a sitting duck.

A five figure payday was cruelly snatched away and he ultimately finished third in a market where each-way terms were 1-2.

I’ll take solace on the firms being equally asleep to the 2016 Tour de France course and if it suits my man I’ll spend eight months backing him (as I do annually with something in the King George, something at Cheltenham and this year on Sports Personality of the Year).

I recently took advantage of a similar rick with a fledgling sports book in the John Deere golf won by Jordan Spieth.  I wouldn’t have a clue about golf but when they too had forgotten to close their book (at the start of Day 3) I backed the American with the firm at 8/1 when he was trading at 3.1 on Betfair.

I confess to backing a few other over-priced candidates and I also had a few heart-stopping moments along the way but ultimately I collected a chunk of change.

It goes to show, despite all this technology, risk controls, algorithms and the like; it is still possible to find an edge via a human failing in a chain of command.

A glimpse of heaven

With the Tour now finished and F1 on a three-week break it’s like the Lord Mayor’s show has been rained off.  I’m certainly looking forward to the next F1 race in Belgium…

If God really is a racing driver then Spa-Francorchamps, venue of the next round of the Formula 1 Championship, is probably what heaven looks like.

Ironic really as the Belgian circuit has sent 51 people back to their maker.  July 21st 1973 was its darkest day with three people killed during the Spa 24Hour.  42 years hence, in modern day F1 safety, the tail doesn't merely wag the dog, it has wrapped itself around Fido's neck, slithered under his collar and is dragging him in circles around the living room floor.

This place is different; it’s the one that got away; it is stuck in a time warp taking us back to the halcyon days of when, and to quote former McLaren team manager Alistair Cadwell, “sex was safe and motor racing was dangerous.”

In 2012, amidst opening bend chaos, Romain Grosjean attempted to decapitate Fernando Alonso and when it rains here, like it invariably does, to petrol heads the ensuing carnage is like a fully-fledged wet dream.

I love the place, from the 150 degree opening bend throughout the ensuing four miles featuring track parts possessing names which simply evoke romantic thoughts of a whack-off load of F1 lifestyle homogenised with adrenaline filled wheel-to-wheel racing.

The Kemmel Straight evokes visions of a Middle Eastern battle ground.  La Source:  A cross between a downtown Los Angeles ghetto and high-class gentleman’s club.  Pouhon:  A martial arts weapon designed to break your leg clean in two without you knowing it had happened.  Rivage:  An outrageously expensive fine silk shirt from a French Haute Couture fashion house purposely made to make women fall at your feet regardless of the misshaped torso it’s draped around.

Sincerely the synthesis of speed, undulation and challenging corners gives the genuine opportunity to race and therein Spa symbolizes the very best of what the sport has to offer.

On track the Red Bulls will be massively under-priced as a result of that 2-3 finish in Hungary.  They will struggle to make the top-eight in a galloping track like this and my attention will be back on Valterri Bottas as the one to be with outside of the works Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Rosberg.

9/2 is long gone but even 11/4 is too big

Just a week ago I suggested Jeremy Corbyn was over-priced at 9/2 for the Labour Party leadership.  Seven days later he is in to 11/4. I’ve subsequently consulted my political guru, Albert Tapper, to enquire if the support is justified; his response was an overwhelming yes.

To quote:

“The polling is absolutely clear, Jeremy Corbyn is winning the race by a mile.  It is five-six weeks to the vote I think so lots can still happen - there will be a big anti Corbyn movement but who’s to say that won't make him stronger?”

“We have the best evidence so far that he is leading the Labour Leadership contest and by a significant margin.  A Times survey (July 21st) of 1,054 Labour Party members puts Corbyn on 43% of first preference votes, ahead of Burnham on 26%, Cooper on 20% and Liz Kendall trailing on 11%.  Taking account of second preferences, Corbyn would beat Burnham in final round voting by 53% to 47%.  Even if this polling is a whopping 5% out, the basic story remains the same.”

Stan James are 11/4 and if you have missed the earlier price, this is still worth investing in.


Across in the U.S. our portfolio on the ‘Republican Party candidate in the Presidential Election’ is looking good.  Donald Trump, previously recommended at 100/1 is now as short as 6/1 (top-priced 12’s) and Marco Rubio is generally a 7/2 shot now; we are on at 11/2.

Summer in Paris

Another long-term proposition is the host city of the 2024 Olympic Games.  Until an hour ago (I’m keying this on a Monday evening) there were four cities in the frame but, hot off the press, Boston has pulled out of the race.

That leaves Rome (5/2), Hamburg (5/2) and Paris (2/1).  The French capital missed out in a photo-finish to stage the 2012 Olympics and with money seemingly no problem I fancy they can go one better this time.

I confess I’m no judge on the subject but I know Betfair’s prices on all three remaining candidates will shrunk in the coming days/hours.