The colourful senator has been the bookies’ clear favourite in recent weeks to become the next President. However, there has been a stampede of cash in recent days for one of the founders of the Progressive Democrats and former president of the European Parliament, Pat Cox.
Recently, Mr Cox said was giving serious consideration to running for the Áras. “It wasn’t on my radar screen at all. I have had so many emails and calls and so on that I certainly would take some time to consider it. Apart from the presidency, I’m talking about self for the moment, it is a very big issue to do with life, duty, family, responsibility but I’m prepared to ask myself the question this week that wasn’t even on my mind a week ago,” he said.
Ladbrokes have reported an enormous rush of money on Mr Cox. He was available at 33/1 with the firm on Tuesday morning but this was slashed to 9/4 within 24 hours.
Ladbrokes spokeswoman Hayley O’Connor said it would be “carnage” for the bookies should Mr Cox enter and win the race for the Presidency.
“News that Pat Cox may be throwing his hat into the ring for the presidential election, caused a stampede of punters through our doors wanting to back him,” she said. “They devoured his price of 33/1 right into 9/4 within a matter of hours and it’s going to be carnage for the bookies if he makes it into Áras.”
Paddy Power has noted a similar stampede to back Mr Cox, with odds having been slashed from 20/1 to 4/1.
The largest bet placed in recent days was placed on Tuesday, with one punter placing €500 on Mr Cox at 12/1. The flutter has led to speculation that the Progressive Democrats co-founder may well be chosen as the Fine Gael candidate for the Áras.
However, whether Mr Cox runs for President as a Fine Gael candidate or as an Independent, he is likely to face fierce competition from Mr Norris at 9/4 and Michael D Higgins at 11/4.
Spokeswoman for Paddy Power Sharon McHugh said the bets were a sign that Mr Cox had a real shot at winning the race should he throw his hat in the ring.
“It’s an old cliche but it’s usually true when we see this kind of betting activity — there’s no smoke without fire,” she said.