Wildlife By Jon Ivan-Duke

Bookmakers go Cuckoo for Flying Outsider

After celebrating a 25/1 outsider winning the Grand National this weekend, bookmakers William Hill could be going cuckoo for another betting longshot.

Bookmakers William Hill teamed up with BBC Springwatch presenter Chris Packham and the British Trust For Ornithology (BTO) to launch the first betting market on cuckoo migration from Africa to the UK.

It’s called ‘The Great Cuckoo Race 2015’, and followers have been glued to the live tracking system on the BTO website – www.bto.org/cuckoos - with 17 birds each carrying a high tech satellite tracking device to monitor their progress. 

And now the furious flapping contest is building to a climax, with a 20/1 outsider at the start of the race, Dudley, in a commanding lead. 

Songs dating back to the 13th century celebrate the return of the cuckoo to the British Isles and this year the bookmakers could be singing the praises of Dudley, a cuckoo from Sherwood Forest.

“Dudley was a real outsider to be the first bird back, but he’s soared in to a strong lead and he will take some catching,” said William Hill spokesman Jon Ivan-Duke. 

The latest signal from Dudley’s tracker put him on the border between Spain and France, just south of Bordeaux, while all of his rivals are still in Africa. ‘Chris the Cuckoo’ who is named after Chris Packham is really trailing behind at this stage. 

“Chris the Cuckoo would need to fly like a superhero to win the race now,” said William Hill spokesman Jon Ivan-Duke.

Cuckoos fly from West Africa, crossing over jungle, the Sahara Desert, the Mediterranean Sea, continental Europe and the English Channel before making it back to the UK.

Dudley is now the odds-on 1/5 favourite to be the first cuckoo home. 

Latest William Hill Odds – The Great Cuckoo Race 2015: 1/5 Dudley, 10/1 Stanley, 10/1 David 12/1 Derek, 12/1 Emsworthy, 20/1 Ash, 20/1 Hennah, 25/1 Chris, 33/1 Livingstone, 33/1 Jake, 50/1 Chester, 50/1 Fred, 100/1 BB, 100/1 Peter, 100/1 Skinner, 100/1 Waller, 100/1 Whortle