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The smart money

File photo dated 30/11/11 of girl band Little Mix, (left to right) Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Jesy Nelson, Jade Thirlwall and Perrie Edwards, who won the X Factor final tonight.

256/1 The handicapped underdogs to ‘win’ in the Rugby World Cup 

Sun 23rd Oct

With New Zealand such outrageous favourites to take the Webb Ellis cup (with odds of 1/2 at their shortest), ‘Hail Mary’ betters were forced to look for more inventive ways to bring in the cash. One avenue explored by a lucky punter was for the first eight underdogs to ‘win’ via the handicap line. In simple terms, Tonga were afforded an opening handicap of 37 points for their curtain-raiser against the All Blacks. They did lose as expected, but the 10 points they scored plus the 37 handicap points gave them a theoretical 47- 41 win. This was repeated for the following 7 matches in which each underdog managed to rally to score more points than the critical bookies had expected. The reward for a bet less ordinary:  £25,600 for a £100 stake.

66/1 Little Mix to win ‘The X-Factor’ | Sun 11th Dec

For all the talk of ‘The X-Factor’ losing its grip on the nation’s consciousness, punters still staked in excess of a million quid on this year’s karaoke contest. The betting changed constantly and it seems there was a new favourite to win every week. Given that a group has never won the show and that girl groups have tended to fare worse than boys, Little Mix were initially deemed doomed by the bookies and their odds drifted out as far as 66/1. The girl band were rank outsiders for weeks on end and the arrival of comeback kid Amelia Lily pushed them out still further. But after tearful performance upon tearful performance they eventually romped to victory, to leave bookies sobbing following a far-from-little payout on the Mix.

250/1 Blackburn to beat Manchester United 3-2 | Sat 31st Dec

The final day of the year delivered by far the most bizarre set of scores on any top flight football card when, in the early kick-off, relegation place-hoggers Blackburn took a 3-0 lead at Old Trafford. Despite an onslaught from the home side, Rovers held on to reward punters who had the foresight to back 3-2 at handsome odds of 250/1. We thought that would be that for the day’s results but in a later kick-off Aston Villa also plundered Stamford Bridge, winning 3-1 at odds of 200/1, giving against-the-grain punters double the reason to raise a glass at midnight.

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