The 2019 Oxford Cambridge Boat Race Betting Preview
April 4, 2019
This Sunday sees the 165th Oxford Cambridge Boat Race, one of the longest-running televised sporting events in the country.
First taking place in 1829, the Oxford Cambridge Boat Race is a British Institution. The annual rowing contest between crews from Oxford and Cambridge University Boat Clubs is so famous it’s now simply known as ‘The Boat Race’.
Although the inaugural men’s race took place in 1829, it was only in 1856 that it became an annual event. The only exceptions have been during both World Wars.
Similarly, the first women’s Oxford Cambridge Boat Race took place in 1927, but it took until 1964 for it to become annual.
In 2015, the women’s race was moved to the same day and course as the men’s, which it usually precedes.
Every year, without fail, the two universities will field two teams of ‘open-weight eights‘ (men’s and women’s) to compete in a head-to-head race down London’s River Thames.
The race has been covered on BBC Radio since 1927 and televised since 1938 while attracting crowds of up to 250,000 spectators to the banks of the river with more than 15 million tuning in to watch the race on TV.
This year, one of the regular presenters of The Boat Race will be swapping his microphone for oars as he joins the men’s Cambridge crew. None other than double-Olympic champion James Cracknell OBE is set to make history by becoming the oldest rower ever to compete in the men’s boat race, at the age of 46.
He is eligible to race for the light blues having enrolled at the university to study a Masters in Philosophy.
Cracknell, of course, is used to beating the odds, and recording enormous achievements.
Having won Olympic gold medals in Sydney in 2000, and Athens in 2004, Cracknell embarked on a series of endurance tests with and without his friend, TV Presenter Ben Fogle. These included the Atlantic Rowing Race, the London Marathon, and the inaugural Amundsen Omega3 South Pole Race.
In 2000, during an attempt to cycle, row, run and swim from Los Angeles to New York within 18 days, Cracknell was hit from behind by a petrol tanker and suffered a near-fatal brain injury to his frontal lobe. He credits his survival due to the fact that he was wearing a cycling helmet, but he now suffers from epilepsy and an altered personality.
Now, over a decade since his last Olympic triumph, Cracknell is once again part of a rowing crew going for glory.
Older men have tried and failed to earn their place, but Cracknell is still an athlete first and foremost and, once he sets his mind to something, it’s a brave man who bets against him.
Oxford Cambridge Boat Race Betting
Speaking of betting, Cracknell’s presence isn’t the only reason Cambridge are favourites to retain their title.
The outright odds for the Oxford Cambridge Boat Race have tended to favour the latter in recent years, because the light blues are ahead of the dark blues in culminative wins since 1930.
As with all good rivalries, the two universities very much keep score.
This is true of both the men’s and women’s races as the Cambridge University Boat Club have won 83 of the races, compared to Oxford’s 80, whilst the Oxford University Women’s Boat Club also trail their rivals 30 – 43.
There is, of course, always the possibility that the race ends in a dead heat.
However, this result has only been recorded once, way back in 1877 and, even then, it’s somewhat dubious.
Both crews finished in a time of 24 minutes and 8 seconds. This was, however, in extremely bad weather, and the judge in question, John Phelps, was over 70 years old and reportedly blind in one eye. Finishing posts were also not used until the following year, making Phelps’ job even more difficult.
A dead heat is not impossible, but it’s highly unlikely, so if you want to take a punt, you’ll get excellent odds – 150/1 with Coral!
The only other possibility is that no one wins, and the race has to be re-rowed. This outcome is still rare, but has more precedence than a dead heat.
What if the Boats Sink?
There have been several incidences of one, or even both, of the boats capsizing during the course of the race.
The first came in 1912, just days before the Titanic sank, when high winds and poor weather saw both the Oxford and Cambridge boats take on water and lose out.
In 1859 and in 1978, Cambridge sank, whilst it was Oxford who ended up in the water in 1925 and in 1951.
There were no further sinkings until 1984, when the Cambridge boat crashed into a barge before even starting the race!
The last incident took place in 2016, when the Cambridge women’s boat began to take on water, and the umpire advised the crew to pull to the side. However, the Cambridge cox asked if they could continue and was given permission to do so.
In the event of both boats sinking, the race will be re-rowed at a later date and we’ll all be back here to do this all over again!
The Women’s Boat Race will take place at 2.13pm, with the Men’s Boat Race following shortly after at 3.10pm.
Can Oxford close the gap, or will Cambridge pull even further ahead? Tune in to find out!
The Boat Race Betting Odds
Cambridge Men’s – 2/7 with Betfred
Oxford Men’s – 3/1 with Unibet
Dead Heat Men’s – 150/1 with Coral
Cambridge Women’s – 3/10 with Unibet
Oxford Women’s – 9/4 with 888 Sport
Dead Heat Women’s – 150/1 with Ladbrokes
A Boro fan from birth, Elle is a qualified sports journalist and the former editor of the now-defunct sports site ComeOnBoro.com and Sporting Preview. Her work and strong opinions have been published in The News of the World, The Observer and BBC Tees Radio. After work in PR, Elle returned to her roots as a copywriter as a Content and SEO Editor at ActiveWin Media.