Bookies' favourite for the group chief executive job at Royal and SunAlliance (R&SA) is previous incumbent Richard Gamble. At 7-4 they seem to think he is a dead cert, based purely on the fact that he has publicly stated he wants the job.

But Gamble was kicked out of his Berkeley Square office five years ago by present chairman Sir Patrick Gillam. And while Gillam remains, the chances of Gamble riding in on a white charger seems as likely as Shergar winning the next Grand National.

The smart money, Backchat is told, is Norwich Union chief executive Patrick Snowball. Industry sources say the former tank commander has been wined and dined "numerous" times in recent months, even before Bob Mendelsohn finally walked the plank.

Snowball's motivation seems to be the word "group" in the title, which will allow him to hunt global deals rather than spend his last days of his corporate career tied to the UK. Oh, and a tripling in salary too.

And the odds? 9-2. Well worth a punt Backchat feels...