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Saturday, 19 January, 2019

Ronnie O’Sullivan is the jewel in high-class gathering

Chinese number one Ding may give Rocket most trouble

Ronnie O'Sullivan is enjoying a hugely successful campaign
1 of 1

Day one
ITV4, 7pm Monday

Defending champion Barry Hawkins and Marco Fu, who has had eye problems, are the big names missing from the Ladbrokes World Grand Prix at the Guild Hall in Preston but punters should side with the biggest name of them all.

The top 32 players ranked in a one-year money list are invited to this event, staged at one of the most historic snooker venues, and the man to beat is the top seed Ronnie O'Sullivan.

The Rocket has enjoyed a fine campaign, with three titles already and almost £500,000 in prize money banked.

Having swerved the Coral Shoot Out and not played since his quarter-final exit in the Masters to winner Mark Allen, O'Sullivan goes into this event relatively fresh, which is rare for any player at this time of year given their hectic schedule.

A revitalised O'Sullivan is a dangerous O'Sullivan and he has shown a liking for these shorter-format events in recent years.

The draw has been kind to him, with a smooth passage through the first two rounds expected and he looks primed to go on and land yet another lucrative prize.

In the other half of the draw, Ding Junhui can go well and is fancied to win the fourth quarter at least.

The world number four landed the World Open in September, but then lost his way for a few months before showing glimpses of a return to form during the recent German Masters.

The Chinese ace is another blessed with a fine draw and he could coast through the early stages.

At a more exotic price punters could find value in Ricky Walden. He has been suffering severely with back problems but looks as if he is back to full health and is a match for most when on form.

He performed well in the Shoot Out and could trouble some of the big names, including Shaun Murphy who he meets in the first round.

R O'Sullivan
3pts 10-3 Betfair, Paddy Power
Ding Junhui
1pt each-way 16-1 Coral, Ladbrokes, Sky Bet
R Walden
1pt each-way 100-1 general

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A revitalised O'Sullivan is a dangerous O'Sullivan and he has shown a liking for these shorter-format events in recent years
E.W. Terms
Sky bet