The outright winner markets have been open for some time but with elimination coming into play, betting will start to intensify so who are the bookies favouring at this early stage?
Former JLS member Aston Merrygold is heading the outright result betting and can be picked up at 5/2 with most bookmakers including GentingBet and MarathonBet. Impressive opening stints saw Merrygold pick up most points at the end of week two and he is looking a natural favourite coming into what is effectively the knockout phase.
Behind Merrygold is singer Alexandra Burke who is listed at a top price of 4/1 with the likes of Winner Sports and Paddy Power. Some would say that the top two have an unfair advantage as dancing forms a big part of any singer’s act but it’s worth noting that Burke was down in fifth place with the judges, seven points behind Aston Merrygold at the end of week 2.
At this early stage of any entertainment / reality show, there is value to be had across the markets and one of the surprise packages this year could be Debbie McGee. Judges’ marking was tight ahead of the first elimination round with only one point separating Merrygold and McGee who is on offer at 6/1 with MarathonBet to take the Strictly crown at the end of the 2017 series.
Others in mid-range include Mollie King at 8/1 with GentingBet, Gemma Atkinson at 9/1 with Paddy Power and Winner Sports and Davood Ghadami at best odds of 10/1 with bet365. Of those three, Gadhami had the better result from last weekend’s round of dancing – coming in fourth overall with 27 points.
Is there any value as we move through the betting for 2017? Punters could look at Jonnie Peacock at 12/1 with Paddy Power, Charlotte Hawkins at 33/1 with MarathonBet or Chizzy Akudolu at a top price of 66/1 with Paddy Power once again. None of those dancers have impressed in this series so far but there is still plenty of time left to win the judges over and to climb up the betting.
Obviously the important thing to do for those who are in mid-range in terms of betting is to stay in the competition. This is a long contest over many weeks and avoiding elimination is key. That will give mediocre dancers the chance to catch up and attract more interest from the judges – we’ve seen it before and the market will undergo many changes in the weeks that lie ahead.
The bookies have already identified those who they think will struggle as the weeks progress. Brian Conley is the rank outsider with most bookies but the entertainer is one of five dancers who can be backed out at 100/1 across the sportsbooks. Conley, Simon Rimmer and Ruth Langsford can all be found at that figure with GentingBet while Susan Calman and Richard Coles are also priced at that 100/1 sum with BetFred. Of those five, Coles is as short as 50/1 with Ladbrokes so perhaps he should not be ruled out completely but it does seem unlikely that any of those names will come through and cause an upset.
Aside from the outright winner bet we have a number of additional betting options for Strictly Come Dancing 2017. Markets for Top Man and Top Woman have been released so if you want to hedge your bet slightly you can go down this route and back your choice at slightly reduced odds.
Weekly elimination markets have also been made available with Brian Conley the favourite to be heading home first at 2/1 with Paddy Power. A To 3 finish and bets on whether a contestant will score a perfect 10 have also been listed although you have a much smaller set of bookies looking to get involved here. However, there are some decent options if you want an alternative to the straight win or the each way bet.
While there is value in the markets at such an early stage this can also be a very tough time to call a winner. Anyone who has followed ‘Strictly’ closely since the popular series first started will know that form can certainly be temporary. Dancers need to keep improving and many who have started a series in a positive way have fallen back as the weeks develop, thereby allowing others to come through and take the trophy.
At this point however, Aston Merrygold has been very impressive and he has that advantage of previously being part of a ‘boy band’ where dancing, albeit not in the traditional sense, formed a big part of the act.
Early signs suggest that Alexandra Burke may be a little too short in the outright winner markets while Debbie McGee and possibly Davood Ghadami could provide some value as we move through the field.
There is a lot of dancing to get through between now and the end of the 2017 series but now is a good time to back a winner, assuming you’ve already identified your own favourite.