Kevin Hatchard's chasing a hat-trick of profitable Eurovision Song Contests, and here's his look ahead to Saturday's Grand Final in Stockholm...
"Belgium's Laura Tesoro was fantastic in the semi-final, and even though opening the show is a tough slot to be given, I think she can make an impact that will stay in voters' minds."
Eurovision Song Contest
Saturday May 14, 20:00
Live on BBC1
I fancied Russia as winners from the start and backed them at [2.7] to in the contest in my first semi-final preview. Some people have dismissed "You Are The Only One" as a soulless attempt to recreate the magic of Sweden's winning entry last year, but in terms of the song and the staging I think it works superbly.
Sergey Lazarev is a captivating performer, and considering there is so much going on around him in terms of special effects, he holds it all together well. The song gets into your head, as I can testify - if I play it in the house one more time my wife might seriously injure me.
If you got on at [2.7], you did well, because the price has now tumbled to a somewhat prohibitive [1.58]. Despite the criticism, and the expulsion of one of the Russian jurors, I think this will win. Russia finished second with the fantastic ballad "A Million Voices" last year, proving the country can do well despite unpopular foreign policy.
After a really strong semi-final performance, Australia have moved into second-favourites at [8.0]. Dami Im sparkled (literally, her dress was amazing) as she delivered "The Sound of Silence", and the soaring ballad has really grown on me, as I wasn't sure about it at all when I first heard it. Dami has apparently been mentored by Dannii Minogue - I'll leave you to decide if that's a good thing or not.
Since the semi-final, the song has been flying up the download charts, and it's got a chance of topping the voting. The first half draw didn't help, but 13th in the running order isn't too bad.
Ukraine have moved out significantly to [13.0], and although Jamala nailed her performance of "1944", I still maintain that it won't have broad enough appeal to win the contest. The song is about the brutal deportation of Crimean Tatars under Stalin, and as such it's incredibly dark. Juries will love it, not least because the vocal is beautifully delivered, but will enough televoters connect with it? I don't think they will, and I'm not sure a sympathy vote for Ukraine over Russia will significantly materialise. That said, there has been huge support for this on forums, and the big votes it'll get from juries means it's an entry to be respected.
I don't see the winner coming from outside of these three entries, so if you have already backed Russia at a decent price, what you could do is stick half a point on both Australia and Ukraine. That way, you are guaranteed a profit if any of those three win the event.
Given the impact Australia made in the semi, you might also consider backing them in the Top 3 market at [1.8].
I love Belgium's entry "What's The Pressure?", even if the title is bizarre, and the opening is lifted straight from "Sax" by Fleur East. Teenage popstrel Laura Tesoro was outstanding in the semi-final, getting the crowd moving. The staging and choreography is great fun, and although opening the show isn't a helpful place in the running order, I think this can make enough of an impact to stay in voters' minds. At [3.65], it's worth a shot.
It's time to talk about the UK, and I've slightly warmed to "You're Not Alone" by Joe and Jake. I still think the song's a bit too vanilla, but the lads do give it some, and they smile a lot. The excellent Dan Shipton has done a super job with the staging (there are selfies against the back wall and on the floor), and 25th is a great slot in the running order.
If you're feeling patriotic, [2.7] for a Top 15 finish is a fair price, but it's worth noting the UK has managed just two Top-15 finishes in the last 13 years.
Given the strategy I outlined in the Winner market section, a victor from outside Russia, Ukraine and Australia would be a distinctly unwelcome development. Sweden are defending champions and regular contenders, but as you can read here, I can't get on board with Frans' "If I Were Sorry" at all. I laid it at [1.77] in the Top 3 market a while back, and it's now out to [3.9].
Things to watch out for
Nina Kraljic has stolen every scrap of Bacofoil in Croatia to make her dress. In rehearsals, Spanish singer Barei faked a fall as part of her routine, so presumably she's had some calls from ambulance-chasing lawyers by now. The German entry Jamie-Lee has dressed as Chun-Li from Street Fighter II (spinning bird kick not included), and the Polish entrant Michal Szpak has clearly been to far too many acting classes. Tone it down, Michal!
Don't you just love Eurovision?
Open Bets from previous columns
Backed Russia to win the Eurovision Song Contest at [2.7]
Backed France to finish in the Top 10 at [1.98]
Laid Sweden in the Top 3 market at [1.77]