Saddle up with horse for the course Murphy at Barbican

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Four-time UK Championship holder and recent Champion of Champions winner Ronnie O’Sullivan rightfully spearheads the market for this year’s tournament at 7/2 but the value may lie elsewhere.

2005 World Champion Shaun Murphy has been out of the snooker limelight for a couple of years but The Magician knows exactly what it takes to win this event and looks overpriced at 20/1.

The Harlow cuesmith secured his third ranking title at the Barbican back in 2008 and confirmed his fondness for the York event by reaching the final last year where he lost out 10-6 to good friend Mark Selby.

The devout Christian’s form has lacked the consistency that guided him to the trophy in North Yorkshire five years ago but he has still shown enough in that period to warrant support for a week he clearly looks forward to.

He won his fourth ranking title two years ago at the Players Championship and although without a significant victory since then his impressive passage to the final of the UK – he survived two deciding frames en route – is further evidence that Murphy is one of those performers who can conjure great results when seemingly at their most unlikely. Just before he became only the second qualifier to win the World Championship he had seriously considered giving up the game and selling cars for a living.

This is the first year that the world’s top-16 will have to qualify like the remaining tour players and that is understandably a concern to potential backers. Murphy was caught out by the new format at the beginning of the season at the Wuxi Classic where he lost 5-1 to Alex Davies, a player who has never progressed past the last-64 in any professional event. However, it’s unlikely that the 31-year-old will make the same mistake twice and investors should hold little fear that their charge will make the main draw.

A price of 20/1 looks too big considering some of the other quotes for some of the field who haven’t come close to matching Murphy’s resume and it is generous enough to seriously accommodate the each-way possibility.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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