Free snooker betting tips: Richard Mann previews the UK Championship at York

Neil Robertson
Neil Robertson

Ronnie O'Sullivan is firm favourite to the lift the UK Championship and Richard Mann is in no rush to oppose the reigning champion in York.

Recommended bets

1pt Neil Robertson to win the UK Championship at 22/1

1pt Neil Roberston to win the Fourth Quarter at 5/1

Already advised

4pts Ronnie O'Sullivan to win the UK Championship at 4/1


This time last year, Ronnie O'Sullivan was crowned UK Championship winner for a record-equalling sixth time having cruised through the early rounds before beating Shaun Murphy 10-5 in a one-sided final.

Think Roger Federer, Tiger Woods, Michael Schumacher. This was the very definition of sporting dominance; one player so far ahead of his peers that the tournament became less a sporting contest, more a shrine of awe and appreciation.

Twelve months on, The Rocket returns to York having a enjoyed a strikingly similar preparation: a strong run at the English Open before winning the Champions Of Champions, leaving his game finely tuned ahead of the 'Triple Crown' events.

Having found himself drawn in the same quarter as Murphy and Ding Junhui this year - both some way below their best of late - O'Sullivan will surely fancy his chances of progressing from his opening match against Luke Simmonds right through to a potential semi-final clash with Judd Trump.

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Trump got the better of O'Sullivan when they met in the final of the Northern Ireland Open a couple of weeks back but O'Sullivan produced a herculean effort to even make the final in Belfast having lifted the aforementioned Champions Of Champions trophy only seven days earlier.

As we have seen time and time again, winning back-to-back tournaments has become almost impossible on the modern tour and having had a week or so to freshen up since, O'Sullivan should be primed and raring to go in York.

O'Sullivan's record in this tournament is already mightily impressive and given that it seems clear he has geared his season around a tilt at a record-breaking seventh UK title, he could prove very hard to beat indeed.

I was particularly keen on O'Sullivan's chances a few weeks ago when advising him at 4/1 in my Antepost Angle column and despite his price contracting to 3/1 in light of recent events, I'm certainly not about to desert him.

In terms of potential dangers, it is hard to see anyone in his quarter causing him too many sleepless nights and though Trump will be eyeing up that potential semi-final meeting, the latter will have the likes of Ryan Day and John Higgins to navigate if he is to make it that far.

Both have enjoyed a fair amount of success against Trump in recent times but Higgins, in particular, has struggled for his best form of late and could remain vulnerable, as was the case when he was defeated by Mark King here last year.

Current world number one Mark Selby has been hinting at a return to his very best form in recent weeks and played really well when only losing out 6-5 to O'Sullivan in their epic Northern Ireland Open semi-final.

A conscious effort to take a more aggressive approach looks to have helped Selby regain some confidence and but for a cruel run of the balls against O'Sullivan, Selby could have easily added the Northern Ireland Open to his victory in the China Championship earlier in the campaign.

He is very close and having won here in 2012 and 2016, makes some appeal at 15/2.

Mark Selby
Mark Selby

Kyren Wilson sits in the same side of the draw as Selby and will be top of many shortlists given the significant strides he has made with his game.

A 'Triple Crown' title still evades him, however, and until he bags a big one, I will still have a few small reservations about a player who couldn't get over the line against O'Sullivan in the Champion Of Champions and was beaten by Mark Allen in last season's Masters final.

Nevertheless, Wilson is a wonderful player with a fine all-round game and the 16/1 chance is always respected, if making less appeal than previous course and distance winner Neil Robertson.

The Australian is one of the biggest hitters in the game and has a CV to suit having won this title twice already - in 2013 and 2015 - as well as the Masters and the World Championship.

In fact, Roberston is one of only ten players to have won all three 'Triple Crown' events - the World Championship, UK Championship and the Masters - and following an unusually quiet spell, there have been some most encouraging signs in recent weeks.

Roberston has already lifted the Riga Masters this season and played really well to make the final of the International Championship before beating Selby in the last 16 of the Champions Of Champions.

Neil Robertson is already a tournament winner this season
Neil Robertson is already a tournament winner this season

A brilliant long-potter who scores heavily when on song, Robertson is up there with the very best in the game and his ability to stay cool under pressure and land the biggest prizes in the sport is unquestioned.

With a few personal issues off the table seemingly now behind him, Robertson looks to be fully focused and enjoying his snooker again and I have a strong suspicion that he will be a big player wherever he turns up in the coming weeks and months.

The presence of Mark Allen and Mark Williams in his side of the draw means Robertson is 5/1 to win his quarter but Williams has failed to scale the heights of last season so far this term while Allen hasn't made it past the last 16 in his four most recent visits to York.

Throw into the mix Allen's recent flop in Belfast and there are enough ingredients to suggest Roberston is a better bet to win the fourth quarter and the 22/1 about him in the outright market looks far too big, too.

Make no mistake, O'Sullivan is the man to beat but 22/1 about a dual winner of this tournament who has found form in recent weeks is worth taking, with the very real prospect of a dream final we can sit back and enjoy.

Finally, those looking for a speculative punt might fancy throwing a few quid at Sam Craigie at 750/1.

Craigie faces the experienced Mark Davis in his first match but he is a fine prospect who scores heavily and pushed Barry Hawkins hard earlier in the year.

His time will surely come and he is certainly one to watch with interest.

Posted at 2130 BST on 26/11/18.


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