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South Africa, Thailand, PH among early favorites to win Miss Universe 2017

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Just few days before the Miss Universe 2017 pageant, candidates from South Africa, Thailand and the Philippines emerged as the early favorites to win the crown, according to a one-stop-shop for current and accurate sports gaming information based in Ireland.

Heading the list is Miss South Africa Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters at +250. She was followed by Miss Thailand Maria Poonlertlarp at +300, according to the betting site Covers.com.

Two Peters -- Miss Philippines Rachel Peters poses with Miss South Africa Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters in Las Vegas. The two candidates emerged as early favorites to win the Miss Universe 2017 crown. (Photo courtesy of Rachel Peters Instagram)

Two Peters — Miss Philippines Rachel Peters poses with Miss South Africa Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters in Las Vegas. The two candidates emerged as early favorites to win the Miss Universe 2017 crown. (Photo courtesy of Rachel Peters Instagram)

At No. 3 is Miss Philippines Rachel Peters at+600; Miss Colombia Laura Gonzales at +800, and Miss Venezuela Keysi Sayago and Miss USA Kara McCullough, both at +1,100 odds.

The 66th Miss Universe pageant will be held at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, Nevada on Sunday, Nov. 26. (Monday morning, Nov. 27, in Manila).

A total of 93 contestants are competing in the prestigious pageant this year, so far the biggest in number in the history of Miss Universe.

Debuting this year are candidates from Cambodia, Laos and Nepal.

On Saturday, the candidates showed off their national costumes. Peters walked the runway in her gold Sarimanok ensemble designed by Val Taguba. On Nov. 20 (Nov. 21 in Manila), the candidates will compete during a presentation show for a spot in the semifinals. The results will be announced on Nov. 26.

Iris Mittenaere of France, who was crowned in Manila in January, will relinquish her crown at the end of the show.

 Hoping for the best

Rodgil Flores, head of the Kagandahang Flores beauty camp that trained Peters, said he is not necessarily pressured following the winning streak of other Filipino beauty queens who were groomed by his group.

“Not necessarily pressured but I’m hoping for the best for Rachel,” said Flores, in an exclusive interview, when asked if he is pressured to produce a winner in Peters.

Flores, who is also joining the Bicolana beauty queen in Las Vegas, said Peters has transformed as a beauty queen worthy of being Miss Universe.

“She did her very best. You’ve seen her transformation. And it’s a remarkable transformation,” said Flores. “Her styling, catwalk, projection, it’s Miss Universe caliber already.”

Asked what Peters has to do to win, Flores said: “All she has to do is focus and integrate everything.”

The Philippines has already produced three Miss Universe — Gloria Diaz (1969), Margie Moran (1973) and Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach (2015).

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