UK Sports Betting: Year in Review. Our Top Shocks of 2020
A very happy new year to our visitors and we wish you all the best for 2021. While it is true that few of us will not look back fondly on 2020, for many of us, sport has been one of the ways we have managed to get through this Annus horribilis. And one thing you can guarantee about sport, upsets can and will happen. In this article, we take a look at a couple of the sporting surprises that took place last year, were you lucky enough to back either of them?
Last January, we had no idea that the world that we live in would be changing forever. The first cases of the novel coronavirus hit the UK at the end of the month, but life continued as normal for most of us. In Football, Liverpool was on the Premier League’s last lap; a routine 2-0 late January win over bitter rivals Manchester United at Anfield meant they took another step to the title they have waited 30 years for. Nothing could stop them lifting that trophy in May, or so we thought!
Instead, we had national lockdowns, cancellations of sporting events, and spectators’ being banned with sporting events behind closed doors. Sport as we knew it changed almost overnight.
Yet despite the increased spread of the virus, sport did return. Many hardcore sports fans found refuge in the Belarus Premier League. The German Bundesliga benefitted greatly as a league when they became the first major European league to resume in May, a bonus for online bookmakers whose customers had very little to wager on till then.
Horse racing slowly returned, the first meeting took place behind closed doors in May at Great Yarmouth. It is in the sport of Kings that we bring our first shock of the year.
Breeders’ Cup – Positive Test Leads to 73-1 Winner
The expression, “when one door closes, another opens” perfectly sums up the incredible events that lead to Order of Australia winning Breeders’ Cup Mile at Keeneland with a starting price of 73-1.
The first stroke of luck was the horse shouldn’t even be in the race, a late withdrawal of One Master a few days earlier made way for the introduction of the three-year-old.
Winning jockey Pierre-Charles Boudot shouldn’t have been riding either, a positive Co-vid-19 test for original jockey Christophe Soumillon gave him a chance on the colt for trainer Aidan O’Brien.
When you consider the late inclusion of the horse, the last-minute change of jockey and poor form of the horse (won two of the last seven and finished 9th in a Group 3 race last out), the SP of 73-1 isn’t as overly generous as it first sounds. The horse was against the 2000 Guineas winner Kameko and Irish Guineas victor Siskin in a competitive field.
Halladay did the early running in the race itself, the five-year-old trained by Todd Pletcher, leading from the front until the final straight. Order of Australia swept on the outside and managed to outrun stablemates Circus Maximus and Lope Y Fernandez. Giving trainer Aidan O’Brien not only his first Breeders’ Cup Mile victory but, a remarkable one-two-three in the race.
Both Circus Maximus and Lope Y Fernandez had been priced @12-1. A huge result for the bookmakers and any punter lucky enough to have placed a tri-cast on that result.
Premier League – Just as Unpredictable As Ever!
The Premier League is widely acknowledged as the most exciting league in club football. It’s certainly the most-watched, it is broadcasted in 200 countries and reaches over 4 billion people watching during the season.
It could be argued as to why it is so popular, but for us, it’s the unpredictability of the league that makes it the best. ‘Can they do it on a cold rainy night in Stoke?’, Stoke may no longer be in the top-flight, but the sentiment remains, and we saw a fair few surprise results in the Premier League in 2020.
However, no result surprised us more than Aston Villa’s 7-2 win over reigning champions Liverpool at Villa Park in October. Not only for pure shock value, but it was also a game that had everything and was pure viewing gold.
The first half had five goals; Ollie Watkins had already scored the perfect hat-trick, his left-foot, right-foot and head, along with a John McGinn’s deflected volley, giving the home side a comfortable 4-1 lead. Liverpool’s Mo Salah, scored his 100th goal in English football to give the visitors a glimmer of hope for the second half and Liverpool do have form for remarkable come-backs.
Yet, it was Dean Smith’s Villa that continued to torment Liverpool in the second half. Ross Barkley and Jack Grealish added more daylight between the teams before Salah scored again to make it 6-2.
Captain Grealish scored his second of the game to make it seven, capping an amazing display that saw the 25-year-old involved in five goals. Sadly, we can only guess what the odds would have been for a 7-2 scoreline, an indication though is that Villa was 7/1 for a home win pre-game.
Of course, Liverpool fans will point out the freak nature of this result. Since this game Liverpool are unbeaten in the league, a span of 12 games and they are top of the table, so they are not likely to be too concerned over one game.
For football fans, especially of lower league clubs, the FA Cup is the home of upsets. This weekend is the third-round when the top clubs enter the competition, and plenty of potential banana skins lay in wait for clubs. Join us later this week as we bring you our FA cup third-round preview.