STAR SPORTS £20.22 CHALLENGE: Best Bets for 2022

Hello one and all, and welcome to 2022!

Normally on a Thursday, I’d have written a ‘Just William’ column, perhaps one looking at the next two months with something like New Year’s Resolutions.

However, I was beaten to the punch by Simon Nott’s fantastic set of pro-punting resolutions – which you must read here if you haven’t already – and after putting my thinking cap on (something I hope to do more of in the next 12 months) the idea came to me: what about our teams best bets for the year ahead?

After running through this idea with the team, head of content David Stewart came up with an inspired idea; a challenge for every person involved to bet a notional £20.22 with any winnings going to the Trussell Trust, who provide for millions through their foodbanks.

So without further ado, here are the assorted best bets of the year ahead, all with a budget of £20.22. We hope for enough winners to make a decent donation to the charity.



William Kedjanyi

William Kedjanyi (@KeejayOV3), Political Betting Analyst, Star Sports

As I’ve been given a free hit with my £20.22, I’m going to split my stakes across a couple of markets.

The first is the search for the next BBC Political Editor (did you expect anything else?) where I’m going to back two reporters who I think would make fine replacements for Laura Kuenssberg.

The first is Vicki Young, a woman who could take over the job tomorrow. The deputy political editor of BBC News since October 2020, Young was formerly the chief political correspondent before then and has built up much respect in a long and successful BBC career.

She has contributed to BBC coverage of seven general elections – often earning praise for her live coverage in front of Downing Street – has regularly filled in for Kuenssberg and avoided the controversy and criticisms which many BBC journalists have been hit with over the past few years.

It’s notable that the departing Andrew Marr has backed her, and with Director General Tim Davie and incoming CEO of News and Current Affairs Deborah Turness very keen to avoid putting any more pressure on already ice-cold relations with the Government, Young’s appeal must grow considering the great deal of respect in which she is held.

Follow up the selection of Young with another impressive BBC performer in the shape of Alex Forsyth. Currently a Political Correspondent who is based outside of London, she has built up an impressive CV at the corporation having held stints at home affairs, education and in the Middle East.

Promoted to her current role in 2019, she has travelled the length and breadth of the country talking to people affected by decisions mad in Westminster and would provide what some would say is much needed perspective from outside London to the top job at a time when the BBC is very keen to show it understands the whole country, and 14/1 appears big for someone who is well liked inside the corporation, with such odds giving us a potentially good run for our money. Put £2.97 on her, which will pay just short of £50 if she gets the top job.

The BBC may want to appoint another woman after Kuenssberg made history by raking the top job, which adds extra appeal in a packed field.

The second bet is one which I expect to be backed over coming months; Boris Johnson to leave in this calendar year. He survived 2021, but there are many serious structural issues that he will have to deal with, especially a cost-of-living crisis with energy bills and inflation set to his families extremely hard, and that is sure to increase tensions between him and Conservatives in Parliament.

There’s also the issue of the next general election for the Conservatives to think about – and there’s no doubting that Labour and the SNP would very much prefer to face Boris Johnson to current leadership favourites Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss.

A double of him to leave this year and Vicki Young to be appointed BBC Political Editor returns £11.51 to each £1 staked, so a fiver will make for a decent contribution if both land.

Selections and Stakes: £7.25 Vicki Young To Become New BBC Political Editor at 11/4 with

£2.97 Alex Forsyth To Become New BBC Political Editor at 14/1 with

£5 Boris Johnson to Leave Office in 2022 at 15/8 with

£5 Double of Vicki Young To Become The New BBC Political Editor & Boris Johnson to Leave Office in 2022 at 15/8 with (£5 returns £57.50)

David Stewart (@david_stewart), Head of Content/Social Media, Star Sports

Slightly off the beaten track with an oddities of a market – in fact a market that I don’t think I’ve ever played in – so am looking for a dollop of beginners luck. have priced up four markets for the Oscars and the only one of them that isn’t headed by an odds-on shot is the most interesting one of all – Best Picture.

My starting angle is that I don’t think West Side Story (5/2) can win. I enjoyed the film enormously, which was a reimagined version of the original 1961 classic which won the Best Picture itself in 1962.

The remake is directed by none other than Steven Spielberg but in general musicals don’t fare well at the Oscars and it has flopped at the box office (not always a massive factor). As good as it was – it is still a remake and I think that will count against it.

COVID has interrupted the cinematography schedules with many big releases put on hold or even cancelled so it’s an interesting year. My £20.22 bet goes on Belfast (trailer below) which follows the life of a Belfast family in the late 1960’s when troubles broke out. It doesn’t hit UK cinemas until 21 January.

Written and directed by Kenneth Branagh it’s already won rave reviews in the States and is filmed in black and white – just the kind of arty nuance that appeals to the Academy Awards judging panel!

Selection and Stake: £20.22 on Belfast to win Best Picture, The Oscars, at 9/4 with

Joe Citrone (@Joe_Citrone), Social Media Assistant, Star Sports

Liverpool were drawn out in the so-called ‘Group of Death’ in this year’s Champions League, but managed to breeze past Atletico Madrid, Porto and AC Milan with an emphatic six wins out of six.

We all know the Reds’ credentials in this competition, they’ve won the Champions League six times and reached nine finals; their most recent triumph coming over fellow Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur in the 2019 final in Madrid.

Liverpool’s fast, full-throttle style of football coupled with the booming and intimidating atmosphere their passionate fanbase are able to create on those special European nights at Anfield always have, and always will, make Jurgen Klopp’s side a nightmare tie for any side in this competition.

Also, luckily for them, the African Cup of Nations doesn’t clash with any Champions League fixtures meaning that their two key front-men of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah will be ready and available for every round.

Manchester City are the favourites yet again but, although they are unquestionably a fabulous side, have yet to prove that they possess what it takes to go all the way in Europe as well as domestically. At 5/1, the Reds are an attractive bet to go all the way and win the competition.

Selection and Stake: £20.22 on Liverpool to win the Champions League at 5/1 with

Flynn Goward (@flynngoward), Head of Horseracing, Star Sports

The improving Protektorat bolted up by 25 lengths last time in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree, beating a well backed Native River into 2nd.

There are plenty of question marks over his rivals at the front of the market. A Plus Tard beaten last time, Minella Indo doesn’t look himself at all this season & Al Boum Photo beaten in the race last year when he was a year younger than he will be this time around. Galvin looks the most solid but is short enough now.

With Protektorat you are backing a horse on the improve at 7 years of age & is versatile ground wise (won on Good to Soft & Soft, run well on Heavy). One other thing to note is the potential improvement for being stepped up in trip. Staying on over 2m4f in the Paddy Power & then his convincing win previously mentioned, over 3m1f. We know he likes the track already so that’s another tick in his box. It wouldn’t surprise me if he went straight to the Gold Cup, or even had a Cotswold Chase entry at the end of January.

I think his price of 14/1 is very fair & would be the best bet for me so far this year!

Selection and Stake: £20.22 on Protektorat to win the Cheltenham Gold Cup at 14/1 with

Bill Esdaile (@BillEsdaile), City AM Racing Editor

I’m going to be creative with my £20.22 and go for a £0.92 each/way yankee for this year’s Cheltenham Festival.

Vanillier, National Hunt Chase (12/1)

Gavin Cromwell is a master at producing horses for the big day, as shown with Vanillier’s victory in last year’s Albert Bartlett. He was outpaced at Leopardstown over Christmas so a step up in trip should really help him and this appears to be his main target, unlike some of the other market leaders, making 12/1 a good each/way price.

Nube Negra, Champion Chase (12/1)

He ran a cracker in the race 12 months when arguably and unlucky loser. The key to this horse could be to catch him when fresh, so it’s encouraging, and he reads straight to the Queen Mother after running a below par race in the Tingler Creek. Shishkin and Energumene set a very high standard, but Nube Negra is best when fresh and if he runs to his full potential then 14/1 is a big price.

West Cork, County Hurdle (14/1)

Expertly trained to take the Greatwood Hurdle off a 631 day lay-off, he ran a race full of promise on ground which might have been too soft for him at Ascot in the Betfair Exchange Trophy. Returned to spring ground, he could take all the beating in a race that his stable have a great record in.

Galvin, Gold Cup (5/1)

An impressive winner of the Savills Chase over Christmas, he proved himself at Cheltenham when winning the National Hunt Chase at last year’s Festival and the fact he showed the gears to win over 3 miles is ominous for his rivals, who will be crying enough long before Galvin stops.

Selections and Stakes: Vanillier, Nube Negra, West Cork, and Galvin in £0.92 each/way yankee at Cheltenham Festival with

Jordan Cox (@jxrdancox), Racing Trader, Star Sports

Mount Ida was undoubtedly the most remarkable winner at the 2021 Cheltenham Festival. Subject to a gamble during the day and going off 3/1 favourite, the Gordon Elliot-trained eight-year-old was ridden prominently early in the Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup.

However, it wasn’t long before the mare found herself in all sorts trouble and quickly became detached from the 21-runner field. Incredibly, £101 was matched at 1000 in-running on the machine and out on the final circuit she found herself picking off rivals one-by-one and astonishingly won with ease by six-and-a-half lengths.

This season, Mount Ida has been competing against her own sex in the new mares chase program – winning both her starts impressively under our brand ambassador Davy Russell. After winning on her seasonal debut, Gordon Elliott’s assistant Lisa O’Neill quickly acknowledged that the 2022 Grand National is the main aim for Mount Ida this time around.

As a Cheltenham Festival winner with already plenty of chasing experience, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Mares’ Chase on the final day of the Festival as her final prep en route to Aintree. It is a race which she is currently second favourite for, behind Willie Mullins’ Concertista.

Mount Ida has demonstrated that she is versatile on any ground with preference for a bit of cut and clearly relishes a trip based on her win at Cheltenham last season. She has successfully qualified for the National based on her run in the Kim Muir over 3m2f last season. With that said, she could give her owners of the KTDA Racing Syndicate a fantastic day out at both Cheltenham and Aintree this year, all being well, of course.

Selection and Stake: £20.22 on Mount Ida to win the 2022 Grand National at 22/1 with

Blue Horsehoe (@betteranbetter1), Star Sports Golf Expert

My 20.22 charity bet is going to be on golf. I’m going to put £10.11 each way on Bernd Wiesberger at the Masters. Wiesberger has a decent record at Augusta and he’s currently 200/1 with Star Sports, so ten quid each way will pay well even if he places.

Selection and Stake: £10.11 each/way Bernd Wiesberger in 2022 Masters at 200/1 with

Ben Keith (@BenStarSports), Owner, Star Sports

‘Buy Bitcoin at $43,000.’

Never change, Ben!

Steve Palmer, Racing Post Golf Tipster

Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy – two of the most gifted golfers on God’s Earth – look set for further glory in the year ahead.

Rahm will play the Masters as a Major champion for the first time in April – and the increasingly confident Spaniard can be fancied to claim the Green Jacket at 9/1.

McIlroy will be licking his lips at the prospect of the Open in July at St Andrews, where he opened with a 63 on his way third place in 2010. He is 12/1. A £20.22 win double returns £2,628.60.

Selections and Stakes: £20.22 win double John Rahm to Win Masters and Rory McIlroy to win The Open, to return £2,628.20 with

Gearoid Norris (@icyestretro), #BettingPeople interviewee

Most won’t know this event is, most won’t care bar one man, Phil Taylor. This is the definition of “Just Back Fucking Winners” at odds against.

#BettingPeople: GEAROID NORRIS

Selection and Stake: £20.22 on Phil Taylor to win the World Senior Darts Championships at 5/4 with

Matthew Shaddick (@shadsy), Head of Politics, Smarkets

A 2022 Boris Johnson exit was odds-on a couple of weeks ago. That was probably an over-reaction to the Downing St party stories, but the current 15/8 doesn’t seem like a bad bet. Inflation and cost of living issues aren’t going away even if the Covid situation improves. If Labour stay ahead in the polls and the Tories get a kicking in May’s local elections, his party could easily decide the time is right for a change.

Selection and Stake: £20.22 on Boris Johnson to Leave Office in 2022 at 15/8 with

Johnny Ward, Journalist & Presenter – Host of Trader Chat & The Polling Station

My bet for the year is Boris Johnson to leave in 2022.

He has lost the support of the vast minority of the party and has descended into a mess in recent months.

If the Tories have any chance of winning the next election, they need a new leader. And we’re only in early January.

Selection and Stake: £20.22 on Boris Johnson to Leave Office in 2022 at 15/8 with

Oli Coulson (@olicoulsxn), Editor, The Dugout

George Russell to be 2022 F1 World Champion

The young hungry Brit finally got his move to Mercedes for the upcoming season. With 3 years at Williams Racing now behind him, the 24 year old now finds himself in a car not just capable of points, but of race wins and I think he’ll deliver from the off. He joins a team vastly experienced in the art of winning, and now with the equipment under him to dominate like he did in junior formula E, George Russell will be the Formula One World Champion in 2022.

Manchester City to win the Champions League

Pep Guardiola’s men have been ruthless this season, scoring for fun with performances of the highest, sometimes record-breaking, quality. I expect them to go one better than last year, righting the wrongs of last season’s Champions League final and bring home the trophy they’ve wanted for years. They’ve never looked more efficient, more capable of confusing opponents, even when they play bad, they still usually win. No striker? No problem. The trophies will still keep on coming. City to conquer Europe? The time has never been better.

Selections and Stakes: £10.11 on George Russel to win the F1 Drivers Championship at 5/1 with

£10.11 on Manchester City to win the Champions League at 11/4 with

Matt Bisogno (@MattBisogno),

It’s very hard projecting forward on horse racing with so many doubts about participation, let alone ability. That’s much less of an issue in tennis, which has become an area of keen interest to me since I co-created a tennis trading data service called

Our TP ratings show that Djokovic is still the man to beat (shock horror, I know), but he had a habit of getting well behind in matches at Roland Garros last season; and he’ll be 35 this year. Rafa Nadal, who is a year older, went out to Djoko in a phenomenal semi-final there, and they are again likely to be seeded to meet before the final. As 6/4 and 9/4 chances they make the market for all that they’re the most likely winners.

But this may be a changing of the guard year, with young guns like Stefanos Tsitsipas (23), Andrey Rublev (24), and Alex Zverev (24) establishing themselves. Tsitsipas is probably the best clay courter of the trio but his temperament is still open to question while I think Zverev has the look of the coming man about him. He’s 14/1 to win the French Open and that’s a pretty fair bet having lost in a five-set semi to Tsitsipas, who is 4/1, at Roland Garros 2021.

Selection and Stake: £20.22 Alexander Zverev to win French Open at 14/1 with

Graham Woods (@wggwg2987), Leopardstown groundman and Irish form expert

Tuesday (1000 Guineas) – 18/1

Superbly bred daughter of Lillie Langtry, which makes her a full sister to Minding, she only ran once at 2 when only finding subsequent Moyglare winner Discoveries too good when she would have won with another stride. I’d expect to see her very early in the season for a maiden and then possibly a Guineas trial before heading to Newmarket, a huge season awaits.

History (Epsom Oaks) – 25/1

Another daughter of Galileo (her dam is a half-sister to Moohather) who had three runs at 2 and was steadily progressive. She doesn’t strike me as a Guineas horse, and will hopefully be given a typical Oaks prep – maybe through Chester – and she has everything in the locker needed to give her trainer another Oaks win.

Selections and Stakes: £10.11 Tuesday to win the 1,000 Guineas at 18/1 with

£10.11 History to win the Epsom Oaks at 25/1 with

Steve Mullington (@mulldog), Racing Reporter

Six Nations – France

Twice runners-up under Fabien Galthié, Les Blues can make it third time lucky in the 2022 Guinness Six Nations.

A win over the Wallabies in Australia, an unbeaten Autumn Nations Series, and a stunning win over New Zealand are grounds for great optimism.

Open Golf – Victor Hofland

Hovland became the first Norwegian to win on the European Tour when he won the BMW International Open last season.

Add that to his existing three PGA Tour victories and this young golfer has the scope to improve upon his T12 position in last year’s Open.

Wimbledon Tennis (Women) Aryna Sabalenka to reach the final £2 e/w
Belarusian starlet Aryna Sabalenka reached the semi-finals of both Wimbledon and the US Open last year and looks all set to have another great year in 2022.

Her aggressive style and strong serve is ideal for SW19 and she can go all the way to the final.

Selections and Stakes: £6.74 France to win Six Nations at 6/4 with

£3.37 each/way Vitkor Hovland, 150th Open Championship at 25/1 with

£3.37 Aryna Sabalenka, Wimbledon at 8/1 with

Neil Watson (@WattyRacing), Freelance Journalist

2022 promises to be a stellar year for rugby league. The domestic season kicks off on Saturday 15th January with the first round of the Challenge Cup sponsored by another bookmaker whose owner shares the same first name as a certain Mr Flintstone (Hopefully some of you know which one I mean) and culminates at the end of September with the Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford, also sponsored by the same bookmaker then a few weeks later the rescheduled Rugby League World Cup begins with tickets still available and very attractively priced especially if your northern!

Last season saw St Helens dominate the club game winning the Grand Final 12-10 against League Leaders Catalan Dragons as well as beating Castleford Tigers at Wembley in the Challenge Cup, at 15/8 in a field of twelve they are still the team that sets the standard in the game and it will take a herculean effort from someone else to overpower them so for me St Helens to win Super League 2022 is my first best bet of 2022.

For my second best bet of 2022, I shall be sticking with the thirteen a-side game and will be suggesting Warrington Wolves for the Challenge Cup which is once again sponsored by a well-known Salford based betting company.

Warrington over recent years have had many good days out at Wembley with wins in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2019, last season they made it to the semi-finals only to be knocked out by Castleford Tigers who themselves lost in the final to St Helens.

A lot can depend on the draw to get to the final of course but Warrington always take the Cup seriously as they seem to jump the final hurdle in the final far better than when they have made the Super League Final where they have been runner up four times, So for that reason I am saying Warrington Wolves at 4-1 to win the Challenge Cup.

Selections and Stakes: £10.11 on Warrington Wolves to win the Challenge Cup at 4/1 with

£10.11 on St Helens to win the 2022 Super League at 15/8 with

Michael Doonan (@ABP2GoldCups)

My choice for the £20.22 charity bet will be on Spain to win the 2022 World Cup in Qatar at 8/1.

I feel really strongly about this bet. Teams that have had a falling from grace and starting to find their feet again before regaining momentum is a huge part of international football.

Spain went undefeated in the Euro’s and lost to Italy on penalties but revenged that loss in the Nations league. If Spain can find a natural goalscorer, they will be difficult to beat.

One thing that will be helping the Spanish cause is the influx of youth into the side mostly from Barcelona who are struggling financially, which means players like Fati, Pedri, Gavi are all going to be playing high level football.

Add those talents to the more experienced heads in Alba, Busquets (who still hasn’t decided on retirement) Azpilicueta, Koke and Carvajal they have a great depth of team.

The Spanish have a coach the nation believes in to succeed in Luis Enrique – who’s lost just 3 of the 26 matches since he’s taken back over from Robert Moreno – and 8/1 is more than a fair price for a team that look like bringing back the glory years to the nation of Spain.

Selections and Stakes: £20.22 on Spain to win the World Cup at 8/1 with



Author: Adrian Gray