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So unexpected was the Pope’s resignation, that there was no chance for his potential successors to get under starter’s orders, but now they’re off, and British bookmakers have wasted no time in calling the odds.

The Ghanaian contender came out of the stalls the strongest, but Canadian and Nigerian runners are also making good ground.

Rupert Adams is a spokesman for the UK’s biggest bookies, William Hill. “Peter Turkson is the red hot favourite as it stands,” he said, “he’s been backed quite heavily, in from five to three-to-one, which would suggest that some people think that he’s a genuine contender. Another that we’ve seen a fair amount of cash for is Marc Ouellet. We put him in at 16/1 – lots of money – in to second favourite.”

Nigeria’s Francis Arinze, a joint favourite with the then Cardinal Ratzinger last time round in 2005, is also one of the front runners.

For the more adventurous gamblers the price for the prominent atheist Richard Dawkins is a devilish 666/1, and there is 1000/1 on offer for the U2 singer Bono taking over at the Vatican.

Copyright © 2014 euronews

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