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Tipster wasn’t vague about Hague – Best and worst sports bets ever

Article, Editorial, Featured, Football Accumulators, News, Trading | Article posted on May 16th, 2013

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Tipster wasn’t vague about Hague -

Best and worst sports bets ever


English: William Hague at the U.S. Deptartment...

English: William Hague at the U.S. Deptartment of State (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Every week, bookmaker and former Racing Post chief sports betting writer Mark Worwood takes you inside the wagering industry with tales of the best and worst bets of all time.


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It must be one of the best ante-post tips ever published: Racing Post writer Dominic Chapman’s advice to back William Hague at the massive odds of 100-1 to succeed John Major as the leader of the United Kingdom’s Conservative Party.

No sooner had Major taken over from Margaret Thatcher after Michael Heseltine fatally wounded the Iron Lady’s prime ministership in November 1990, bookmakers were betting on Major’s successor because opinion polls suggested that the Conservative Party would struggle to retain office at the next British General Election. Hague, who only entered the House of Commons in February 1989, was a rank outsider.

Chapman was not afraid to tip up big-priced options and he had an uncanny knack of unearthing talent early on in their careers. For example, Chapman backed Tiger Woods at the huge odds of 50-1 to win his first title and his belief in the American golfer was such that he would back him going into the final round of every tournament in which he took part, irrespective of how the leaderboard looked after 54 holes.

Hague was a member of Major’s Conservative Party government even though he was new to parliament, working initially for the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Norman Lamont, and getting his first Cabinet position in 1995 as Secretary of State for Wales. By that time, Chapman has put his neck on the line and tipped Hague at a three-figure price to succeed Major.

It is well worth noting that Hague did not have a big public profile when Chapman advised Racing Post readers to back him and, also, that those people who did know who he was had one thing in mind: his Conservative Party Conference speech when he was just 16 years old and a schoolboy in Rotherham. Hague achieved national notoriety as the archetypal Tory Boy.

When Major resigned following the Conservative Party’s loss to the Tony Blair-led Labour Party in the 1997 British General Election, five men announced their intention to stand: Kenneth Clarke, Michael Howard, Peter Lilley, John Redwood and Hague. Early ante-post favourite Heseltine decided against nominating because of health reasons, whereas Redwood was up for another crack after having challenged Major unsuccessfully two years earlier.

The first ballot took place on 10 June 1997 and Clarke, the hot favourite, led the way with 49 of the 164 votes, ahead of Hague (41), Redwood (27), Lilley (24) and Howard (23). The results eliminated Howard, while Lilley withdrew. Both men gave their backing to Hague but that was insufficient for Chapman’s 100-1 shot to overtake Clarke in the second ballot seven days later. Clarke increased his vote to 64, Hague scored 62 and Redwood bowed out on 38. Redwood gave his backing to Clarke but that unlikely alliance prompted Thatcher to go into bat for Hague, who won the third and final ballot on 19 June 1997 by a margin of 18 votes.

One of the first letters that Hague wrote as leader of the Conservative Party was to Chapman. It turned out that Hague had been aware of Chapman’s 100-1 tip for many years and so the politician wrote a note thanking the journalist for his support. It ended up in the following day’s Racing Post.

Hague did not have the best time as the Conservative Party leader but he has rebuilt his reputation to such an extent that he is trading at odds of around 12-1 to succeed David Cameron when his fellow Oxford alumnus vacates the position.


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