Will Hill reports on a festive season tradition - and a new opportunity


The tradition of making quirky bets over the festive season was once again in eveidence in the UK, reports bookie firm William Hill plc, which saw a significant increase in the prop bet category this year.

Company spokesman Graham Sharpe revealed on the William Hill website that hundreds of people received Christmas presents with a difference this year - bets on what they and/or their children may achieve in the future.

Bookies reported a huge increase in such festive wagers. "On the run-in to Christmas we took hundreds of bets which those placing them told us were to be given to loved ones. There were bets for children to grow up to become international footballers, Olympic Gold medal winners, Wimbledon winners, Ryder Cup heroes," said Sharpe. "There were bets on individuals becoming Prime Minister, losing weight, giving birth on certain dates of the year, and much more.

"Generally the stakes were under GBP50 and the bets will run for up to twenty five years. They make a unique, personalised gift and we have seen an increase year on year for the past decade, but this year it has really taken off to the point where we are considering introducing 'gift bet vouchers' for next year's festive flutter period."

Amongst those who offered loved-ones these gift bets were:

Anne Powell from Bristol, who placed a GBP40 bet with William Hill that Prince William will get engaged to Kate Middleton on Christmas day or Boxing day. Hills offered odds of 100/1 and should her prediction be proved correct then Anne will win a GBP4000 Christmas bonus.

David Bradley from Norwich has placed GBP20 at odds of 1000/1 that Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame will play James Bond in an official film by the time he is forty years old. He placed the bet for his wife who is Potty about Potter and is convinced he will make a fantastic James Bond!

Will Hill had to pay out on one particularly unusual bet, when South Londoner Huw Lobb from Bedford County Athletic Club became the first human being ever to finish ahead of every horse in the William Hill Man versus Horse Marathon, run in Wales for the 25th time Saturday. Lobb took home a previously unclaimed prize of twenty five thousand pounds after an outstanding performance.

The cross country runner was competing for the first time in the 22 mile event held annually in Llanwrtyd Wells, Mid Wales, and produced a time of 2 hours five minutes nineteen seconds to defeat all the competing 47 horses and riders - a bigger field than the Grand National - which ran against him, along with almost three hundred other runners.

The first horse home was Kay Bee Jay, over two minutes behind the cross country human.

"This is a fantastic achievement which I have always believed could be done in the right circumstances' said Sharpe, adding that William Hill had also had to pay out on scores of bets struck at odds of 16/1 for a runner to beat the horses.

"It hasn't been a good couple of weeks for the equines - having been defeated by a greyhound recently and now by a human," Sharpe quipped.

Sharpe also said that he detected the hand of Screaming Lord Sutch in the result, a reference to the former very colourful official starter for the event, now deceased. Screaming Lord Sutch was the leader of the Monster Raving Loony Party, famed for losing its deposit in British political elections but adding some much needed levity to the process. Marking his past involvement in the quirky race, William Hill unveiled a permanent memorial to the rock ' roller turned failed politician.

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