Sky Bet's Mikey Mumford previews the Unlimited National Banger Word Final, which takes place on Saturday.
By Mikey Mumford
Three-time world champion Jason Jackson once again heads the betting ahead of Saturday’s renewal of the Unlimited National Banger World Final - despite only securing his place just over a fortnight ago.
Winner of this race in 2006, 2007 and in 2012, not many titles in the sport of banger racing have eluded the 6/1 market leader commonly known as ‘Boxer Jack’, but the betting suggests this year’s event is proving a tricky puzzle to solve.
The coveted title race sees 59 seeded entries and the whole ‘banger’ community descend on the leafy outskirts of Ipswich as Foxhall Heath Stadium plays host to the 47th annual running of the sport's flagship evening.
Prior to the big race itself at least three last-chance qualifying races will be held, pushing the number of drivers in the showpiece over the 60 mark, and Sky Bet can report a spread of business as punters try to identify who will take the chequered flag.
Currently occupying favouritism is ‘Boxer Jack’, and he looks a solid frontrunner given the ex-world champion is in line to make his 19th appearance in the race. Jackson left it late to cement his spot by qualifying via one of the ‘wildcard’ routes only last month, but his vast experience may prove crucial in his quest to become champion for a remarkable fourth time.
Competition is not in short supply however and a whole host of drivers with trophy-laden careers will ensure this is one of the most fiercely contested renewals in recent memory, none more so than 2015 champion and second favourite Jack Overy, who looks a solid alternative at 13/2 to take a hand in the finish once more.
Arguably the biggest mover in the market following sustained support is Stacey Holdsworth, who is attempting to go down in banger racing folklore by becoming the first female winner of the race. Originally chalked up as a 40/1 shot, those odds have more than halved after Holdsworth qualified for the second consecutive year and punters are convinced the 699 car has a much better chance than those early odds implied.
Just behind the market principals are Dale Hughes (10/1) and his brother Lee (12/1), and combined the pair have taken gold in four of the finals held at Foxhall since 2008. Also fancied to be on the premises is defending champion Carl ‘Oris’ Korszewski, who took this 12 months ago in a rapid Mercedes. At 14/1 he may represent a spot of each-way value should he turn up in similar form on Saturday evening.
Alan Hunt has been a popular selection after finishing fourth in both 2009 and 2016 and fifth in 2010 and should the man in the 528 motor known as ‘Jethro’ turn up Ford Granada-powered, he could easily go a few places better.
The crown went overseas in 2017 when Steven Bolton took the trophy back to Northern Ireland at a massive 33/1, and he's a similar price to repeat the feat two years on. Meanwhile, the European challenge rests with a quartet of Dutch raiders and the best of those may be 66/1 longshot Karel Eecloo after he qualified for the main race for a sixth time.
With so many debutants expected to take their place on the grid, could a driver with no previous world final experience take the prize? PJ Collins (20/1) and Cameron Bradford (25/1) both fit that profile and at attractive odds the pair have not gone unnoticed in the betting.
Finally, it will be interesting to see how the Barton Boys fare given the numerical advantage they hold on track. Shaun Rushton (25/1), who last appeared in this race in 1999, is the most experienced of a quintet which also includes James Rushton (33/1), Jamie Pole (33/1), Reece Marsh (40/1) and Tom Jordan (66/1).
Who will take banger racing’s crown jewel under the floodlights and fireworks at Foxhall in 2019? Click here for all the latest Sky Bet odds on the race.