Why Reading are the horse to back in Championship handicap race

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So lopsided is the Premier League that Ladbrokes’ scale in the division’s handicap market ranges from scratch to 49 points.

That the Championships runs from Cardiff at scratch to Blackpool at +31 says everything about the league’s notoriously even nature.

Picking the right-weighted horse to prevail over 46 furlongs can therefore be quite challenging, especially as a winner could come from anywhere in the field.

Ever the Samaritans, the news.ladbrokes team are here to help though and have worked out that it’s Reading who should be counted on to prevail this season, thanks to being dealt a kind turn by the handicapper.

At 16/1 to win the league without a handicap, Reading are among the reasonably priced outsiders for the title.

In the handicap market, however, they’ve been given a +12 head start on the Bluebirds.

A seventh place finish last season was a credible return for a side recovering from relegation and forced to release some of their better players for cost purposes.

Now, having kept together the bulk of the squad that only lost three times from March 1 last season, a run at the league title has to be expected for the Royals.

Adam Le Fondre’s departure is an obvious blow, but a core of Royston Drenthe, Pavel Pogrebnyak, Danny Guthrie and Stephen Kelly highlights quality in the squad capable enough of challenging in the handicap market.

At 18/1 with a +12 handicap Reading are certainly on top of our punting shortlist, but alternatives lie in and around that bracket.

Wolves, who stormed League One last term, have been given 13 points, so too have Bournemouth who were among the form teams in the league as the season ran down, while Ipswich’s +14 handicap looks favourable while Mick McCarthy is at the helm.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.