Aiming to cap a widely profitable season of athletics punting on betting.betfair, Jack Houghton thinks Mariya Savinova can prove her dominance in the Women's 800m, and that a tired Luguelin Santos is again vulnerable in the Men's 400m.
"With Luguelin Santos looking a tired athlete, in need of a winter break, he’s one to be laying heavily at 2.255/4."
Having hinted that David Rudisha was vulnerable to the 18-year-old Mohammed Aman at the first-half of the Diamond League final in Zurich last week, I only wish that I'd recommended backing the teenager, and then it would have been a more inspiring night from a betting perspective than it turned out to be, with one winning bet of little consequence not-quite doing enough to get us out ahead on the evening, being left as we were half-a-point down.
Still, as Brussels hosts the second-half of the Diamond League Final on Friday night and so brings to a close this season's forays into track and field, we can look back on a successful year that has delivered over 20-point profit on recommended bets to date. As long as we don't lose it all now, that is.
Although it's received limited media coverage against the backdrop of the successes of athletes like Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake, Mo Farah and David Rudisha, one of the highlights of the season for me has been the rivalry of Pamelo Jelimo and Mariya Savinova in the 800m. Jelimo got things very wrong at the Olympics, but has beaten Savinova since, and holds a healthy five-point lead in the Diamond League standings for the event. Provided Jelimo can finish at least second tonight, then, she picks up the $40,000 prize.
Outside of the front two, though, the field lacks quality. Without the likes of Caster Semenya and Fantu Magiso, it will be down to the promising Burundian athlete, 19-year-old Francine Niyonsaba, who finished second in Monaco, to chase Jelimo and Savinova home.
In what will be an effective head-to-head, then, Savinova should have the beating of Jelimo, and is worth supporting at around 1.758/11. The Russian was imperious in the Olympics, and I can't help thinking that her defeat to Jelimo in Lausanne was more about post-Olympic fatigue than anything else. After all, whenever it has really mattered in the last two seasons, it has been Savinova who has emerged victorious, and she will want to leave no doubt about her pre-eminence in this event as she signs off for the season.
Men's 100m and 200m:
Whilst it will be Bolt and Blake's presence that guarantees the crowds will be out in force on Friday night (a presence for which, apparently, they charge $300K and $150K respectively), their events will do little to inspire most punters, unless unleashing large sums on super-short-priced favourites is your modus operandi, that is. As long as he avoids false-start disqualification, and can motivate himself for one more European race before he gets to head home to Jamaica for the first time since the Olympics, Usain Bolt should cruise to victory in a soft-looking 100m, where Ryan Bailey and Nesta Carter offer the best of the opposition.
Over the longer sprint, it should be an equally comfortable task for Yohan Blake, where there is every chance he could finish the best part of a second ahead of the likes of Warren Weir and Christophe Lemaitre. The race all-but settled, then, the interest will be how fast Blake can go. If anything he has improved since the Olympics, and there is a chance he will challenge his personal best of 19.26 - set here last year - and, perhaps, even Bolt's world-record mark of 19.19.
Opposing Luguelin Santos proved a successful strategy in Birmingham two weeks ago and, for all the same reasons, I'll be doing so again in Brussels. The Borlee twins will want to crown their successful seasons with a home win, and Angelo Taylor has found sparkling form of late that he no doubt wishes he could have found in time for the Olympics. With Santos looking a tired athlete, in need of a winter break, he's one to be laying heavily at 2.65.