Dark Blues have talent to cruise home
Cambridge crew lack experience
BBC1 5.35pm Sunday
Cambridge ended a three-year losing streak in the men’s University Boat Race last year but as the Light Blues have only two of their 2016 crew back on the Thames, Oxford look worthy favourites.
The Dark Blue crew are no bigger than 4-11 to win this year’s heat after proving their pace and power in the warm-up events
Oxford returned only one member of their successful 2015 boat last year and paid the price and Cambridge look to be in the same position this time round.
Both crews took on Oxford Brookes University in their warm-up races. Oxford won by two lengths in the first piece and just prevailed in the second. But Cambridge could not win either of their races against the benchmark crew (despite having six of their Boat Race crew on board), finishing level in one and losing the second by two lengths.
Cambridge were also beaten in one run against a strong Italian national crew, but prevailed in the second, while Oxford were comfortable winners against Leander.
Oxford have classy performers in the likes of Olivier Siegelaar, who won bronze in the men’s eight for Holland at the Rio Olympics, and Michael DiSanto who was in the USA boat in fourth. Bow William Warr, who rowed for Cambridge in 2015, is only the third man ever to appear for both universities in the event.
Cambridge are 3.2kg heavier per man and have the tallest oarsman ever to take part in 6ft 10in James Letten but Oxford’s crew are on average two years per man older and the experience edge could count for plenty.
The winning distance has been more than three lengths in six of the last nine years and Oxford may well be able to top that.
It’s the opposite story in the women’s race, where Cambridge, who lost by 24 lengths last year after almost sinking, are long odds-on to gain their revenge.
Oxford by three or more lengths
1pt 11-10 Ladbrokes