Christie has few backers at 200m

SPORTS BETTING
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The Independent Online
"I'll be back in the 200 metres," Linford Christie declared after his 100m debacle early yesterday morning, but according to the bookmakers, "I'll be at the back" would be a more accurate prediction. Hills quote Christie at 100-1 to take the gold, and, according to a spokesman, "we don't expect to be knocked over in the rush".

In fact, there has been little betting interest in the events in Atlanta, though the bookies cannot be anything but satisfied with the results so far. Frankie Fredericks, heavily backed for the 100m final, could finish only third, while Jonathan Edwards failed to justify an opening quote of 1-5 in the triple jump, thereby dooming many short-odds accumulators linking him to several other hot favourites.

Edwards's defeat should be a useful warning to anyone prepared to step in and back Michael Johnson at 1-4 for the 200m. Those brave enough to oppose him, meanwhile, should note that while Ato Boldon and Mike Marsh are 6-1 and 8-1 respectively with Coral, William Hill offer 12-1 and 16- 1. Both firms make Fredericks their 11-4 second favourite, but this event is, in betting terms, as unappetising as the rest of the Games.

Punters may prefer instead to turn to the NatWest Trophy, which reaches the quarter-final stage tomorrow, and, at the Big Three's best prices, offers a very acceptable book of 105.4 per cent.

The first point to note is that the top quote of 3-1 about Lancashire, the favourites, represents odds of barely 4-6 for each match, which might be fair enough for tomorrow's home tie with Derbyshire but is unlikely to feel like value if their semi-final is, for instance, Surrey at The Oval.

At the other end of the list, both Hampshire (11-1) and Sussex (12-1) have home ties tomorrow. It is an advantage which the latter side can exploit to full effect against Yorkshire, whose confidence may be flagging after their comprehensive home defeat by Somerset in the County Championship. Sussex have taken time to find form this season, but are developing a useful attack and have plenty of experience in the batting order. The 12-1 is a very fair price.

NATWEST TROPHY: Best prices: 3-1 Lancashire (Coral, Tote), 7-2 Surrey (Ladbrokes), 6-1 Essex (Coral), Yorkshire (Coral), 11-1 Hampshire (Hills), 12-1 Sussex (Ladbrokes, Tote), 12-1 Derbyshire (Hills,Ladbrokes), 16-1 Somerset (Ladbrokes).

SUPER LEAGUE (Hills): 1-4 St Helens, 11-4 Wigan.

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