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28/12/2007 No.31
Dan Roebuck
Thurs December 28, 2007
  Bookies mourn British absence from Euro 2008 but fear Woods sweeping all before him in new year

You can tell that bookmakers fear the worst for their yearly profits when they start to issue prices about which England player will be the first to be photographed on a beach after the season ends (Paddy Power rates Frank Lampard as the 4-1 favourite, incidentally). Of course the lack of a British representative at Euro2008 will put a dent in turnover but there is still plenty on offer for the punter in the new year and some juicy long-term bets that should persuade you to part with your Christmas bonus even before this month is out.

I don't really see the point of investing in next summer's major betting event - still Euro 2008 despite England's non-qualification - until much closer to the kick-off of the first match. The odds are unlikely to change between now and then. But for the record the leading nations price up: Germany 4-1 (general), Italy 7-1 (general), Spain, who were handed arguably the easiest draw, 7-1 (Ladbrokes), Portugal 9-1 (Coral), France 9-1 (VC Bet), Croatia 12-1 (general) and Holland 14-1 (Boyle Sports).

Football will still dominate the sports betting scene and punters can gorge themselves on a plethora of special bets, the vast majority of which offer no value, concerning what might happen to players, managers or teams in 2008.

Away from football, golf is the most popular sport with punters and there is no shortage of seasonal specials concerning Tiger Woods's performance in 2008. The world No1 is 25-1 (general) to win all four majors next year but just 5-2 (Ladbrokes and VC Bet) to land none of them. Woods ended last year in dominant form, winning four of his last five starts on the PGA Tour and banking about $5m (£2.5m) more than the runner-up on the Money List.

Next year could see him win the grand slam, and although it has never been done before you could argue 25-1 is worth taking. Sporting Index offers a spread concerning his performances in the majors, issuing a quote of 112-118 with points awarded as follows: 50 for a win, 25 if he is placed between second and 10th, 10 for 11th to 20th place, five for 21st to 30th position and minus five for a missed cut. Last season Woods's make-up was 110, the year before 120 while in 2005 it was 150. I expect him to surpass last term's effort comfortably, so the advice is to buy at 118.

Whether Woods will be on the winning Ryder Cup team in 2008 remains to be seen. The United States are 6-5 (general) with Europe evens (Boyle's and Totesport) to retain the cup at Valhalla Golf Club in September. Nick Faldo's team has strength in depth - unlike Paul Azinger's side - and, even if Colin Montgomerie does not make the line-up (Power goes 2-5 Faldo overlooks him as a wildcard pick), Europe are decent value at current odds.

Andy Murray's fortunes will be closely watched in 2008. The British No1 is 8-1 (Ladbrokes) to win a grand slam title next year, 9-4 (Power and Sky Bet) to make the final of a grand slam tournament and 6-4 (VC Bet) to make the last four at Wimbledon, Melbourne Park, Roland Garros or Flushing Meadow. The latter is achievable, but a better bet might be to back him at 5-6 (Blue Square) to finish the season in the top eight of the Champions Race - a certainty if he steers clear of injury.

Cricket odds compilers have been rather shy in pricing up England's 2008 Test series against New Zealand (home and away), South Africa (home) and India (away) - although I couldn't put anyone off backing Alastair Cook at 3-1 (Stan James) to be the teams' top Test run scorer in 2008 given his current form.

Kimi Raikkonen is the 13-8 (general) favourite to win the formula one drivers' title, with Lewis Hamilton 2-1. France are 6-4 market leaders for Six Nations glory but Scotland are attracting early money and can be backed at 16-1 (Sky Bet).

The 2008 Olympics is unlikely to show a significant spike in bookies' turnover, it never does,but punters are urged to back China at evens ( to top the medals table. The hosts were only four golds behind the USA at Athens four years ago and have invested so much time and money into making sure they overhaul the US (who can be backed at 11-10 with Coral) it would be a national disaster if they came up short.

Olympics China to top the medals table at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games (; Ev
Tennis Andy Murray to finish in the top eight of the ATP champions race (Blue Square); 5-6
Golf Buy Tiger Woods' major performance index at 118 (Sporting Index); 118
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