Bookmakers see three-cardinal race after shock resignation

February 12, 2013 - 4:54:48 am

LONDON: British and Irish bookmakers ranked Nigeria’s Cardinal Francis Arinze, Peter Turkson of Ghana and Canadian Marc Ouellet yesterday as favourites to lead the Roman Catholic Church, setting odds swiftly after Pope Benedict’s shock resignation.

William Hill, Britain’s largest bookmaker, offered odds of 3/1 against for Arinze, or a probability of 25 percent, while Ouellet and Turkson were priced at 7/2 against, meaning successful punters would win seven pounds for every two staked. Irish bookmaker Paddy Power had the same three cardinals as leading contenders but placed Ouellet as favourite ahead of the two Africans. Britain’s Ladbrokes narrowly made Turkson its  initial frontrunner.

Arinze and Benedict, who was then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, were both among the bookmakers’ favourites in 2005 when the German was elected to succeed Pope John Paul II, Sharpe said.     

Dark horses included the British scientist and atheism campaigner Richard Dawkins on 666/1 and the fictional Father Dougal McGuire, a hapless priest from the 1990s Irish TV comedy show ‘Father Ted’ on 1000/1.