UK Championship free betting preview and tips from Neal Foulds, Richard Mann and Ben Coley

Neal Foulds fancies Mark Williams to go well in York
Neal Foulds fancies Mark Williams to go well in York

Neal Foulds, Richard Mann and Ben Coley nominate their best bets for the UK Championship which begins at York Barbican on Tuesday.

Mark Williams each-way at 28/1

Neal Foulds

I know he’s an old name but Mark Williams, who’s been very quiet lately, interests me at 28/1.

He didn’t play in the World Open, which he didn’t try and defend, and he didn’t play in the Northern Ireland Open, which he won two years ago.

I think he’s trying to keep himself fresh and don’t forget he won the World Championship 18 months ago.

He’s been away from the big tournaments - he’s trying to look after himself with regards to travelling all around the world - and he comes into this tournament knowing he’s capable and has got what it takes.

A bit like John Higgins, someone is going to have to beat these guys and they could go very deep into the tournament, especially in the case of Mark who has been quiet for a while but has been putting in some hours on the practice table as opposed to playing in big matches.

I think he could have a good run.

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Zhou Yuelong to win the 3rd Quarter (25/1)

Richard Mann

Mark Selby heads the betting to win the 3rd quarter at 6/4 but despite his impressive victory at the English Open, he still has a few questions to answer having failed to build on that success as expected since.

Selby suffered a couple of bruising defeats at the World Open and Champion of Champions subsequently before taking an age to warm to the desk in his quarter-final defeat to John Higgins at the Northern Ireland Open.

Selby was uncharacteristically sloppy in the early part of that match and despite that earlier return to the winners' enclosure in Crawley, he still appears short of his ruthless, consistent best.

An early exit at this event 12 months ago is another slight negative to his chances and with old foe David Gilbert facing a tricky opener against James Cahill in the first round, this could be the quarter to take a flyer on.

Stephen Maguire is certainly capable of producing a deep run but a recent ankle injury has stunted his progress of late and I'm inclined to take a chance on Zhou Yuelong.

A big talent with a bright future, Yuelong beat Mark Allen and then pushed Ali Carter close at the World Championship last season to underline his capabilities.

A run to the quarter-final of the World Open recently suggests his game remains in good working order and at 25/1 to win his quarter, he looks well worth a small play.

Mark Allen and Ronnie O'Sullivan on the hunt for York glory
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Ronnie O’Sullivan v Mark Selby (16/1) and Ronnie O’Sullivan v Mark Allen (25/1)

Ben Coley

Ronnie O’Sullivan remains the man to beat in the UK Championship and the even-money that he emerges from a weak quarter could look a steal.

O’Sullivan’s chief threat is Shaun Murphy, always to be respected, but beyond him it’s a largely out-of-sorts section. Kyren Wilson has suffered a series of disappointing defeats already this season, Ding Junhui has been very poor, and rest are up against it.

The seven-time champion should emerge with only Neil Robertson presenting a serious stumbling block ahead of a final which many will expect to feature Judd Trump, the outright favourite who has won two of his last three tournaments.

That may be a curse rather than a blessing, though, as Trump hasn’t missed a dance in a long time now. Clearly, he’s risen to the challenge and wears the crown well, but he’s also had a fair few frames fall his way and does not look invulnerable.

At York, where he’s lost to Joe Perry, Oliver Lines, Graeme Dott and Liang Wenbo since last reaching the final, there’s a feeling the world champion may just come unstuck in the third or fourth round and that may pave the way for Mark Selby and Mark Allen to battle it out in the bottom section.

Allen was desperately unlucky not to beat Trump in Coventry and looks close to his best again, so a repeat of last year’s final rates a distinct possibility at 16/1. He should have little trouble against Jimmy White to get things off and running and in his sub-section, Barry Hawkins is not as fearsome an opponent as he might have been.

Split stakes with O’Sullivan v Selby, though, as the latter is also playing nicely and will not have been too disheartened by a narrow defeat to John Higgins in Belfast. He’s won a title and made the quarters on five further occasions this season and will be alive to the threat of an early exit having lost to James Cahill 12 months ago.

This time, Selby should be able to ease into things by beating Andy Hicks, and Cahill might even do him a favour by taking care of David Gilbert. Either way, the Jester is fancied to go a long way.

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