In what seems like a re-run of 2016, the bookies’ odds picked out four of the top five finishers from last night’s Eurovision Song Contest grand final.
In the hours leading up to the contest, the top two favourites, Portugal and Italy, began to tussle, switching places more than once. This came after a dramatic few days, where Portugal, the eventual winner, claimed the top favourite spot from Italy’s Francesco Gabbani. The singer had previously been the odds-on favourite since weeks before rehearsals started.
In the event, it was Italy that lost out, slipping down to sixth place in the final voting. Bulgaria, Belgium and Sweden, however, clung on to the top five spots predicted by their odds.
Moldova was the surprise of the night, performing exceptionally well in the televoting. Viewer votes catapulted “Hey Mamma” into an incredible bronze finish, confounding bookies’ expectations. After being available at very long odds before the first semifinal, some canny punters will have profited handsomely from an each-way bet on Sunstroke Project.
In another mirror of 2016, the bookies’ top five favourite not to finish in the top five – Italy – finished sixth. Exactly the same happened to France at last year’s contest, when Amir just missed out on the top five.
Outside the top five – a mixed bag
Just outside the top five finishers, the bookies had a mixed bag of bullseyes and far misses. Romania, Netherlands and France all achieved their left-side scoreboard goals. But late riser, Croatia, did not come good on the eighth favourite place it enjoyed hours before the final. The UK, tipped as a top-ten contender, likewise faltered into fifteenth after the televote results.
Conversely, Australia defied its perennially drifting odds by finishing ninth. Norway also outperformed bookies’ expectations, finishing in tenth after languishing on odds of up to 250/1 before the final.
However, at the bottom of the table, the bookies got it right, with an unfortunate Spain, Germany and Ukraine sinking to occupy the last places.
Bookies’ odds have emerged as an increasingly accurate pre-contest predictor of final placings at the top of the board, but less so further down.
Nonetheless, the final picture still takes some days to emerge. Fans still have chance to perfect the art of catching a future favourite at fortuitously long odds. Congratulations to punters than selected Portugal early on, before Salavdor’s meteoric rise!