Bookies go walkies as suspicious betting at Crufts forces William Hill to refuse bets

Crufts has long been considered a competition of the utmost decorum. The closest it normally comes to opprobrium is someone accidentally picking up an opponent's grooming brush. But this year, the dog show has been rocked by an unlikely betting scandal, with fears that a mystery "super dog" may be about to pad off with the top prize.

The competition starts today, but yesterday the bookmaker William Hill announced that it was closing the book on bets as to which category the competition's overall winner – the Best in Show – will come from.

The unprecedented decision came after a flood of bets predicting that the winning dog would come from the previously unfancied "utility dog" category – a miscellaneous group of breeds including bulldogs, miniature poodles and dalmatians. The market for bets opened yesterday morning with the chances of a "utility dog" winning being rated at 13/2 by odds compilers at William Hill.

They had predicted that an entrant from that category would stand little chance against dogs from the pastoral, terrier, hound, toy, gun and working dog classes. However, after just a few hours of betting, the odds on the utility dog class had been shortened to 6/4. Then, in the early afternoon, betting was closed after the price was cut to odds-on favourite of 1/2.

Rupert Adams, a spokesman for William Hill, said the company feared that there was a "super dog" in the running which could swipe the overall prize. "There must be an exceptional dog out there that we have not heard about," he said.

"Normally in betting, when we shorten the price people start to back off a little and back other contenders, but that hasn't happened here and no matter how short a price we offer on a utility dog winning, people keep betting.

"It's essentially a seven-horse race with all the money going on one horse. We decided enough was enough and closed the book."

Mr Adams said that the firm became suspicious after more than 20 bets of £100 or more were placed on the utility dog category. He added that William Hill faced a payout of more than £10,000 should that be the case.

Paddy Power, the other bookmaker offering odds on Crufts, still have their book open, but they too say they have seen a surge of bets being placed on a dog from the utility category winning.

The organisers of the event say they aren't aware of any sure-to-win super dogs. Caroline Kisko, the secretary of the Kennel Club, said: "There are 23,000 dogs in the competition ... It's impossible to say that there is one dog certain to win the top prize."

The dogs in the utility and toy categories will be judged today, with the winners returning for the Best in Show finale on Sunday.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Ashdown Group: Accountant - London - £48,000 - 12 month FTC

£40000 - £48000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: International Acc...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power