Belfast Telegraph

Gavin Robinson winning the race for East Belfast seat, reckons bookie

By Ivan Little

The Alliance Party's only MP Naomi Long is set to lose her race to be first past the election finishing post in East Belfast, according to the bookies.

And turf accountants Paddy Power are also predicting that Sinn Fein will win the most hotly contested poll in the UK, Fermanagh South Tyrone, by a nose.

They also say the Ulster Unionists will fall at the final hurdle in Upper Bann next month with the DUP coming out in front in the constituency where the pro-Union parties wouldn't back an agreed runner.

But it's in East Belfast - where DUP leader Peter Robinson was unseated by Naomi Long five years ago - that most observers are focusing, though that isn't reflected in the interest from the punters.

Former DUP Lord Mayor Gavin Robinson, for whom the UUP stood aside after a pact was delivered, is 1/5 to regain the seat with the odds on Alliance's Naomi Long at 5/2. Sinn Fein and the Green Party are the real outsiders at 100/1.

In Fermanagh South Tyrone, Michelle Gildernew, who came home with the aid of the equivalent of a photo-finish - a recount - just ahead of an agreed unionist candidate in 2010, is a hotter favourite this time around with Paddy Power offering odds of 2/5.

The UUP's Tom Elliott, who's fighting the election after the DUP stood aside, is a 7/4 shot.

Another closely contested seat where the DUP and UUP will be battling it out after failing to agree on a pact candidate is Upper Bann. DUP sitting MP David Simpson has warned that the entry into the field of the UUP's Jo Anne Dobson could let Sinn Fein in on the rails.

But Paddy Power don't agree and still believe Simpson will emerge victorious. They're offering odds of 2/5 on him winning, while Dobson is offered at 5/4 and Sinn Fein's Catherine Seeley is 12/1.

No pact emerged in South Belfast either and the DUP's Jonathan Bell and the UUP's Rodney McCune are 3/1 and 12/1 respectively against the sitting MP Dr Alasdair McDonnell of the SDLP who is 4/7, though Sinn Fein's Mairtin O Muilleoir has narrowed the gap, coming down from 25/1 to 7/1.

The two other seats which do have agreed unionist candidates are Newry and Armagh and North Belfast.

And Paddy Power are foreshadowing very different outcomes. They have Nigel Dodds 1/7 to win North Belfast for the DUP with Sinn Fein's Gerry Kelly in second place at 3/1.

But in Newry and Armagh the bookies have Sinn Fein racing certainties to hold onto their seat with Mickey Brady listed at 1/14, the SDLP's Jason McNulty at 9/2 and Danny Kennedy way back at 16/1.

Sinn Fein are even safer bets in West Belfast with Paul Maskey an unbackable 1/100.

Other politicians who are sure-fire 1/100 bets to win are Ian Paisley of the DUP in North Antrim, Sinn Fein's Pat Doherty in West Tyrone and Francie Molloy in Mid-Ulster

Paddy Power are also offering odds of 1/50 on Sammy Wilson (DUP East Antrim), Jim Shannon (DUP Strangford), Jeffrey Donaldson (DUP Lagan Valley), Margaret Ritchie (SDLP South Down) and Gregory Campbell (DUP East Londonderry)

Independent Sylvia Hermon in North Down is the 1/40 favourite. Things are tighter in Foyle where Mark Durkan of the SDLP is the 1/3 favourite to beat Sinn Fein's Gearoid O Heara who is 10/3.

And in South Antrim the DUP's William McCrea is 1/3.

Betting light as punters wait closer to polling day

Election results in Northern Ireland are, some would say, every bit as predictable as the politics.

So having a flutter on the outcome of polls isn’t going to make anyone rich unless they stake a fortune to win a comparatively small sum of money back on odds-on certainties.

A spokesman for Paddy Power said that so far they had taken around £8,000 in bets for the May 7 election. “We expect that will at least double between now and the election,” he added.

So far most bets have been laid on Upper Bann, South Belfast and Fermanagh South Tyrone.

The biggest bets placed with Paddy Power have been £500 wagers on the DUP’s David Simpson to retain his seat in Upper Bann and £250 on Michelle Gildernew in Fermanagh and South Tyrone.

Paddy Power’s spokesman said the most significant price changes in recent times had been in Upper Bann where Jo-Anne Dobson had come down from 6/1 to 5/4 and where David Simpson had begun as 1/12 but had now narrowed to 2/5.

In South Belfast, Sinn Fein’s Mairtin O Muilleoir  started at 25/1 but was now a 7/1 bet and Alasdair McDonnell had started at 4/11 but was now 4/7.

McLean’s bookmakers managing director Paul McLean said interest so far was light and interest had been higher in the last Assembly elections.

“Punters can be strange sometimes at elections in that they don’t like to bet too far in advance but prefer to wait to assess what is happening nearer polling day,” he said.

Belfast Telegraph


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