We punters are always looking for a mistake by the odds-setters, a chink in their armour, an oversight. Offering the world indoor silver medallist at 25.00 to win gold in the women’s pole vault at the European Championships might be just one such main chance.
France's Vanessa Boslak had been out of action for three years, undergoing four operations due to a serious knee injury before she won silver in Istanbul in March. Only the world record-holder, Yelena Isinbayeva, was able to better the Frenchwoman in Istanbul, and the Russian won’t be in Helsinki to contest the Europeans.
Boslak has managed 4.50 metres so far outdoors, which leaves her well outside the current top 10 in Europe, which explains her generous price. If you don’t have the courage of your convictions to go for gold, you can back Boslak at 5.50 just to win a medal.
Germany's Silke Spiegelburg, who has an indoor best of 4.77m to her credit this year and tops the outdoor European listings underlined her position among the world’s elite vaulters with a 4.70 clearance to take the national title last weekend. Even so, at 2.25, the favourite is generously priced. Irina Ptacnikova of the Czech Republic, has cleared 4.72 this season, putting her second in the European rankings. She is easy to back at 4.50 for the gold.
If you’re seeking the winner in the men’s triple jump, the qualifying rounds of which are on Thursday morning, look no further than the exotically named Ukrainian, Sheryf El Sheryf - or “Omar”, as he is known on the European circuit. It is 14 years since Jonathan Edwards set the European championship best of 17.99 metres: That was so last century. In 2012, the best European mark is 17.47m by Daniel Greco, of Italy, the 1.75 favourite to hold Helsinki gold.
El Sheryf, the European under-23 champion, jumped 17.72 last year, the sort of performance that will put him in medal contention for the London Olympics, never mind the European title. El Sheryf is the 5.50 tip for gold and if the young Ukrainian can nail the top slot in Helsinki, his odds on landing an Olympic upset over Londoner Phillips Idowu – who has passed on defending his European title – will be much reduced.
Oh dear: Imagine going to all the trouble of staging this week’s championships, and the host nation never once managing to run up its flag to the uppermost flag pole? That’s what the once proud athletics nation of Finland faces this week.
Only in the men’s javelin, the final of which is on Thursday, do the Finns have even a chance of a medal, with a couple of competitors ranked in the top six in Europe this season. So under those circumstances, the Unibet spread bet offering 4.35 that Finland can win at least one gold medal at the championships this week looks less than generous. 1.17 for no Finnish golds won’t be available after the javelin final.
In the never-ending search for value, the men’s 400 metres hurdles, with its heats on Wednesday and semi-finals on Thursday, could be the event to watch. As fastest man in Europe this summer, Periklis Iakovakis has been installed as 1.75 favourite yet the Greek has rarely ever reproduced in major finals the form he has shown at home.
In the absence of the world No1, Dai Greene, it may be another Briton who takes the honours here: Nathan Woodward is offered at 17.00; Rhys Williams is 20.00, and a very tempting 4.00 just to medal; and Richard Yates 25.00 or 5.75 to medal. Since Yates has run quicker than both his team mates this season, he’s worth at least a place bet to get among the medals in this, his first senior championships.
After all, you can’t expect to uncover two 25.00 winners in one day. Can you?