Some of the recent bets advised on NMP include:
Brave Display 18/1 - WON
Diligent Harry 9/4 - WON
Bangkok 5/4 - WON
Jabbarockie 5/1 - WON
Vanity Affair 7/1 - WON
Astro King 11/2 - WON
Thyme Hill 11/4 - WON
Happygolucky 3/1 - WON
Overwrite 4/1 - WON
Vanity Affair 16/5 - WON
Came From The Dark 4/1 - WON
Longlai 11/2 - WON
Thursday 6th May
Ante post bets:
After last year's Eurovision song contest (due to be staged in the Netherlands) was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic it is great to have the show back this year - we head to Rotterdam once again!
The first semi final takes place on 18th May, with the second on the 20th May, while the Grand Final itself takes place on Saturday 22nd May.
Looking at the odds, the entry which looks most overpriced in the outright market in my opinion is IRELAND.
Ireland have a poor recent record in the competition and have a potentially tricky draw in their semi final to overcome, which may explain their price, but their entry this year is considerably better than anything else that they have put forward in recent years and they have real potential to outperform their odds.
Ireland are actually the winning-most nation (seven victories, with the last recorded in 1996) in Eurovision history. They have failed to qualify for seven of the last 12 competitions and their highest placing in the last two decades was eighth in 2011, though they don't seem to have taken the competition very seriously at times - Jedward have represented them twice as they have gone down the gimmicky route.
However, this could be the year Ireland return with a bang as Lesley Roy has written and performed a Eurovision pop-bop. If you liked the Corrs in the 90s and noughties then you will love Maps, which is a story about Lesley's journey back to Ireland.
She left the Emerald Isle many years ago after her own musical career stalled and has since been based in Sweden and the USA. She was due to represent Ireland last year with Story Of My Life until the competition was cancelled due to the pandemic.
Lockdown has recently brought her back to Balbriggan and this song is about a metaphorical journey, re-finding your true self when you have become lost - a message which will strike a chord with many across the globe given the events of the past 18 months.
From the first note there is a tremendous Celtic vibe to this song and the music video - shot with the Wicklow Mountains in the background - is, quite simply, stunning.
The music video will count for nothing when on the stage in Rotterdam, of course, but I love the fact Ireland have teamed up with creative director Fredrik "Benke" Rydman to oversee the stage production. Benke was responsible for the production of Heroes, which was the winning 2015 Eurovision entry for Mans Zelmerlow and Sweden.
In a year when they've cleaned up at Cheltenham and in the Grand National, I think Ireland have huge potential to outperform their Eurovision odds of 250/1 in their quest for world domination!
With regards to their draw in their semi final, although they have been put in during the middle of the show, and you would ideally prefer to be on towards the start or end of the running order, they are one of those last on before an ad break, and that may help as viewers will have this incredibly catchy anthem stuck in their minds for that little bit longer than normal.
I am thinking back to the reasons why I liked Bulgaria's 2016 entry, which placed for NMP members at 100/1 in 2016, and I can see a few similarities with Ireland this year.
Bulgaria, too, enlisted the help of a Swede (in their case a songwriter) that year (having a Swedish influence in your team often gives you a better chance of scoring well with the juries) and were handed what looked a terrible draw, but a catchy, memorable song - If Love Was A Crime (anyone remember the lyrics "O, day mi lyubovta"?) - pulled Poli Genova through.
SBK are 13/8 for Ireland to qualify from the first semi final at the time of writing, while Bet 365 go 5/4, and I think both are very fair prices. That is my main ante post bet on Ireland, though with some meaty odds available I've also nibbled them for a top 10 finish (14/1 Bet 365 and Sky Bet), and each-way in the outright (currently a best-priced 250/1 with Sky and 200/1 with several other firms) to small stakes. If Ireland can navigate their way through the toughest of the semis then they could feasibly ruffle a few feathers in the final itself. I've weighted my stakes so I make a profit as long as they qualify.
With regards to other ante posts at this stage, I really like LITHUANIA's entry, Discoteque, a funky alternative pop number that is bright, quirky, and catchy.
Their best historical placing in the competition is their sixth-place finish in 2006 but The Roop, who return this year after being selected for the cancelled competition in 2020, could go even better. I am expecting them to pick up plenty of support from the televote and have backed them to finish top five in the Grand Final at prices around 2/1.
Lithuania actually open the semi final on the Tuesday - the producers seemingly have faith in them to put on a good show. Discoteque is incredibly catchy, audiences will love the action on stage and good luck to anyone trying to copy the little finger-dancing trick the lead singer chucks in at one point - brilliant stuff and a surprisingly high-quality entry from a nation we haven't typically associated with Eurovision success.
In terms of the semi-final one televote before we get to the main final, I do think MALTA are a deserved favourite and I'm very happy to get them onside at 5/2 with the option of backing Lithuania, who I regard as the main danger in this particular market, as a saver at 5/1 (to win enough to cover the stake on Malta).
The Maltese entry, Je Me Casse, is actually 11/4 to win the whole competition now and has been the subject of plenty of ante post support. I have missed the boat there, for all I am fully on board with the song and can fully appreciate its appeal. I just think I would rather back Malta at a very similar price in this smaller market instead.
We don't have to worry about France and Switzerland hoovering up jury votes in this semi final televote market, as we would do in the outright market, and all we are concerned with here is getting enough votes to see off the other 15 entries in that semi.
Malta have been put on last of 16 in the running order - the ideal position for Destiny, who brings a gospel element to the table, and her saxophonists to smash it before the voting lines open.
My final ante post bet this year is on SAN MARINO to finish in the top 10 in the Grand Final. They haven't yet qualified, and need to come through the second semi final first, but the mountainous microstate have really pushed the boat out this year and look to be making a real statement, going into battle with what appears a bumper budget - they've enlisted the help of artistic director Luca Tommassini, who did the tango with Madonna in Evita and has worked as an artistic director with the likes of Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Bjork, Kylie Minogue, Ricky Martin, Katy Perry and Robbie Williams.
They've produced a very catchy, upbeat entry, Adrenalina, sung by Senhit, featuring US rapper Flo Rida. It is still unknown whether Flo Rida will make it to Rotterdam to join Senhit on stage, due to the coronavirus travel restrictions, but the song was originally released without him on it and is catchy enough to make top-10 appeal even without him turning up.
The producers have put San Marino on first in the second semi on the Thursday and I fully expect them to exploit their favourable position in the running order to qualify and again be looked after in the running order in the final too. They are another country I expect to pick up support from the televote.
13/8 for them to finish top 10 in the Grand Final is very palatable. If Flo Rida's appearance is later confirmed they should probably be odds-on for a top 10 finish.
Thursday 13th May
Further ante post bets:
All of the acts had their first rehearsals last week and the first set of semi-final two acts had their second rehearsals this morning.
San Marino were among them and main singer Senhit had pictures of Flo Rida stuck to her headpiece at the start of the song this time and was shouting his name on stage - it looks likely the US rapper could be there for the Grand Final if those clues are anything to go by, so I've topped up my bet for a top 10 finish and also backed them at 70/1 EW in the outright market.
Everything has been positive during their rehearsals so far, even if an Italian rapper has been standing in for Flo Rida.
Coral are allowing punters to create their own 'to qualify' accumulators for semi finals. My confidence in Ireland has faded slightly as they seem to have overcomplicated the staging. They still have time to improve things ahead of the dress rehearsals (on which the semi jury votes are made) but I have left them out of this 'to qualify' acca and have put in the six countries I think are bankers to progress - Malta, Lithuania, Sweden, Cyprus, Ukraine and Azerbaijan.
Wednesday 19th May
New ante post
Ukraine were the entry to take from last nightís semi final in my opinion and I now think they are the main danger to Malta to win last nights televote (the results from which are announced after the Grand Final).
Iíve backed them EW in the outright market this morning. Who doesnít like a bit of flute and a forest rave?
I donít understand a word of the song but the eeeeeeeeeeee at the end is superb.
The lead singer overcame a Covid scare in rehearsals but sounded great last night.
I think Ukraine will be helped by the fact Russia have been stranded in the first half of the draw in the final. I think that may help draw in some of the Baltic votes as they are in the second half.