With much more competitive fields starting to become the norm, British bookmaker Sky Bet is planning to significantly expand the amount of middle and long distance races it offers markets on – starting with this weekend’s IRONMAN Western Australia.
While prices on the likes of Super League and WTCS events have been the norm in the last couple of seasons – with plenty of strong contenders for both, clear form lines and live coverage – it’s been a different story when the race distances start to ramp up.
But the PTO‘s mantra of getting the best racing the best on a regular basis over 100km – and offering big prize purses – has led to stacked start lists for their events in Ibiza, Milwaukee and Singapore this season.
The showdown between Olympic champions Kristian Blummenfelt, Alistair Brownlee and Jan Frodeno – and an equally high-class women’s field – prompted Sky Bet to price up the PTO European Open back in May.
And now with more PTO races in prospect in 2024 and the advent of the IRONMAN Pro Series and its $1.7million bonus pool, that trend is only likely to be more pronounced.
Sky Bet’s only previous full-distance market in 2023 was the women’s IRONMAN World Championship in Kona which saw all the leading contenders take each other on, producing a wide-open market and encouraging signs for the future from the bookmaker’s perspective.
Their Sports Trader Andy Bell told TRI247: “We saw a big rise in interest in this year’s womens IRONMANN World Championship and took around ten times more than we would expect to see on such a market, which is impressive given the market was only up for around four days before the start of the race.
“The two most popular selections in the market were Lucy Charles-Barclay and Kat Matthews, so some patriotic money amongst the shrewd money as LCB went wire-to-wire to win her first World Championships in Kona.
“And Lucy alone probably gathered a bit more interest than we normally expect – she’s a very popular figure amongst the triathlete community and with her high-profile YouTube channel and well-publicised string of second places at Kona, she was always going be popular in such a market.
“Remember too that a wide-open event with three women going off as 4/1 co-favourites always sparks more interest than, say, a one-sided affair with a short-priced market leader.”
Much more to come in 2024
But the increased likelihood of that sort of race profile in 2024 – and hopefully beyond – led Bell to add: “We are committed to offering as many PTO and IRONMAN Pro Series races as we can in 2024 so look out for them and hopefully a wider range of markets.
“With the high-profile nature of those events, we should also be able to offer a range of markets in addition to the overall winner – so fastest swim, bike and runs, forecasts, to make the podium, head to head, finishing time under/over and so on.”
Thorsten Radde’s much-respected TriRating data and analysis has been another important factor in the bookmaker having the confidence to delve deeper into these markets and whatever one’s perspective on betting, there’s no doubt it can help increase the profile of triathlon and potentially give the sport wider traction.
Here at TRI247 we’ll be keeping a close eye on developments over the next 12 months, starting with the latest market moves on the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award for which Charles-Barclay has been trimmed to 100/1 from 125/1 by Sky Bet.
The last triathlete to make the podium at SPOTY was Alistair Brownlee who was runner-up in 2016. And he’s been among the big names lending his support to LCB, with the PTO in particular helping to galvanise the triathlon community to shout about her claims.
IRONMAN Western Australia odds
And good to their word, Sky Bet have produced markets on the final full-distance race of the season – IRONMAN Western Australia, which takes place this weekend.
Fresh from his win over half the distance at Challenge Canberra last week, Daniel Baekkegard is the odds-on favourite for the men’s race at 1/2. Steven McKenna comes next at 7/2, with Matt Burton and Sam Appleton both at 6/1.
The women’s race is a tighter affair – the top-ranked Lisa Norden is 7/4 market leader, just ahead of Fenella Langridge at 2/1 and then come Dutch duo Els Visser and Lotte Wilms who are both priced at 4/1.
Visser just pipped Langridge in Canberra on Sunday and a repeat of that one-two is a 14/1 chance.