There’s little time for snooker fans to absorb Judd Trump’s dominant Champion of Champions win as the UK Championship begins at York on Tuesday – James Cooper has found three bets in the first round.
2pts Ashley Carty to beat Dominic Dale at 6/4 (General)
2pts Ashley Hugill +2.5 frames against Mark Davis at 8/11 (Sky Bet, BetVictor)
2pts Hammad Miah +2.5 frames against Matthew Stevens at 6/5 (Sky Bet)
1pt Hammad Miah to beat Matthew Stevens at 7/2 (bet365)
The season cranked up a notch in Bolton last week and this prestigious 128-man event with best-of-11 frames from the outset ups the ante further. It feels slightly weird to write it, but a first-to-six first round actually feels like a lengthy match and there is clearly a different dynamic at play to opening fixtures so far this campaign, with the mid-session interval after four frames.
The best bet away from the handicaps comes on Tuesday afternoon, with the 6/4 about ASHLEY CARTY to see off Dominic Dale too big. The Welshman is approaching his 50th birthday and is clearly in the final stages of his career on the main circuit. He is of course a wily competitor, but the fact is that he has won just one match in a light campaign so far and his scoring boots seem to have deserted him.
It’s also well worth pointing out that in the two matches he has gone off favourite, Dale lost by a combined score of 8-1 to Chang Bingyu and Rory McLeod. I place Carty somewhere between those two on my ratings so he can approach this match full of confidence.
Indeed, Carty is playing some pretty good stuff, recording his best win of the season when defeating Stephen Maguire 5-1 to qualify for the European Masters recently. Victories over Jordan Brown and Jamie Jones are not to be sniffed at, either, while defeats to a trio of elite operators in Stuart Bingham, Kyren Wilson and Mark Selby do not cause any alarm.
Given the perceived level both are at currently, I make this game closer than the 4/7 v 6/4 generally on offer by the layers, with Dale only a marginal favourite at 0.53 v Carty 0.47, so I would chalk this game up around 17/20 v 20/17.
Having forced his way back on the main tour last season, I was slightly disappointed with ASHLEY HUGILL’s results, but on closer inspection and as is often the case given the current structure, he faced a series of tough qualifying and first-round opponents along the way.
The vibes this season certainly look better for Hugill, though, and watching his recent match against Bai Langning to qualify for the European Masters, he looked very comfortable, scoring pretty heavily in a decisive 5-1 result.
Whether he can eliminate Mark Davis is up for debate. I have it as a 0.67 v 0.33 contest, so Davis as the 1/2 jolly. There’s a bit of 11/5 on offer about Hugill which offers a small amount of value, but playing him on the handicap looks the more prudent option given Davis (as so often seems to be the case) has made a very solid start to the campaign and is not an easy man to get the better of.
When betting in handicap markets, it’s always worth exploring the manner in which a player wins and loses in terms of the final scoreboard, and the Championship League four-frame contests aside, Hugill hasn’t lost by more than a frame so far this season. That augurs well for him covering the +2.5 handicap.
As always though, the prices have to be in your favour and the 8/11 about Hugill registering at least four frames in the match is overpriced using my model. I predict that scenario would happen 62% of the time, so it’s around an 8/13 chance with me.
Iulian Boiko on the +4.5 handicap against Anthony McGill at a shade of odds-on came under consideration from a value perspective, but the youngster hasn’t started the campaign with much vigour and following a very poor start, McGill has clicked in recent weeks with German and European Masters qualification.
From what I have seen of Boiko, there is clearly something there (he really should have beaten Mark Allen in the Gibraltar Open last season), but the Ukrainian isn’t an easy player to get a handle on and in short, my rating of him isn’t particularly robust, so that wager is passed over.
Instead, HAMMAD MIAH completes the staking plan and given the prices on offer, he appeals in both the match and handicap markets against Matthew Stevens.
A couple of defeats against Jamie O’Neill in recent weeks have dented slightly what has been a productive start for Miah, but a return to the main tour followed by a run to the last 16 in the British Open is a more-than-acceptable start for Hammad.
Opponent Stevens is getting increasingly hard to predict by the season. His best game is around top-16 standard but there are plenty of dips too, losing to Ken Doherty, Si Jiahui and Peter Devlin already this campaign, and he survived a major scare against Simon Lichtenberg in a Northern Ireland qualifier.
The match has been priced up as a 1/4 v 7/2 contest and that underplays Miah’s chances as I go 0.74 Stevens and 0.26 Miah, which places Miah at a shade under 3/1 to triumph.
As is often the case when there is value siding with the underdog in the match prices, a bet on the handicap also represents a betting opportunity so I will also take the +2.5 handicap at 6/5 with Sky Bet given that outcome is a 10/11 chance on my figures.
Preview published at 1545 GMT on 22/11/21
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