Bookies anticipate tight race

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The Independent Online
Punters yesterday staked thousands of pounds on John Redwood becoming the next Tory leader as the former Secretary of State for Wales announced his intention to stand.

Betting was so fierce that Ladbrokes cut Mr Redwood's odds from 8-1 to 6-1 within moments of his announcement, making him third favourite behind Michael Heseltine and the Prime Minister.

Last week Mr Redwood was a 66-1 outsider. Yesterday morning his odds were slashed from 33-1 to 8-1 as Ladbrokes took pounds 10,000 worth of bets.

William Hill cut Mr Redwood's odds from 25-1 to 12-1 after taking pounds 3,000 of bets, and later to 10-1. A spokesman said that not a single bet had been placed yesterday morning on Mr Major.

Ladbrokes odds: 4-5 Major, 5-2 Heseltine, 6-1 Redwood, 8-l Michael Portillo, 12-1 Gillian Shephard. William Hill odds: 4-5 Major, 2-1 Heseltine, 5-1 Portillo, 10-1 Redwood, 16-1 Shephard and Kenneth Clarke.