Page last updated at 13:47 GMT, Monday, 20 April 2009 14:47 UK

The chances for your Budget bets

Black tie
There are long odds on Alistair Darling wearing a black tie

Some watchers might argue that the figures to be revealed in his Budget speech represent a moribund UK economy.

But the likelihood of Chancellor Alistair Darling wearing a mournful black tie for Wednesday's Budget speech remain slim, say bookmakers.

Odds of 25-1 were being offered at the start of the week on a black neckpiece, with Labour's red the favourite at 7-4.

Bookies' Budget odds include prices for the length of the speech, the words used and the rising cost of cigarettes.

Ladbrokes suggest that Mr Darling using the word "sorry" is a 14-1 shot, whereas William Hill think there is more of a chance, offering 5-1.

Vocabulary such as recovery, fiscal stimulus and downturn are much more fancied for use, according to Ladbrokes.

Long shot

It has been a year of the underdog so far. Ireland won the Six Nations rugby, Jenson Button is top of the Formula One drivers' rankings and Argentinean Angel Cabrera won the Masters golf ahead of runaway favourite Tiger Woods.

Most surprisingly Mon Mome won the Grand National at Aintree at odds of 100-1 - the longest odds of a National winner since 1967.

Ladbrokes believe that the phrase "boom and bust" being used in the Budget speech is twice as likely, with odds of 50-1.

The bookmaker is sitting on the fence over the length of the speech, offering the same price of 5-6 on the speech being under 55 minutes, or 55 minutes and over.

Last year's speech was clocked by William Hill at 50 minutes and 25 seconds. It is favouring a short speech again this time, with 46 to 50 minutes the 7-2 favourite, followed by 4-1 for 51 to 55 minutes.

Odds of 12-1 are on offer from the bookmaker for Alistair Darling reviving the detail of a William Gladstone Budget speech by talking for more than 80 minutes.

Gladstone delivered the longest continuous Budget speech, which lasted four hours and 45 minutes on 18 April 1853. Benjamin Disraeli's 1852 speech lasted five hours, but that included a break.

Disraeli, however, does hold the record for the shortest Budget speech, that of 1867 which took just 45 minutes.

All these odds were priced on 20 April.

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