Juddernaught can Trump rivals in York

The UK Championship begins in York on Tuesday in the first Triple Crown event of the season.

Ronnie O’Sullivan is the defending champion and 4.00 favourite after claiming an 18th major title last season, equalling Stephen Hendry’s record, but ‘The Rocket’ will face a fierce battle to retain the trophy.

In-form Trump a genuine contender

Judd Trump was hailed as a likely successor to O’Sullivan when he burst onto the scene in 2011 and reached the final of the World Championship.

Things haven’t necessarily gone to plan since however, and despite the fact he is a former world number one and has nine ranking titles, he only has one major to his name – the 2011 UK Championship.

Trump also reached the UK final in 2015 but hasn’t progressed beyond the third round since.

That may change this year though and at 8.00, the Bristolian looks good value to go all the way at the Barbican Centre.

Trump endured a mixed start to the season but hit his stride at the Northern Ireland Open earlier this month to land his first ranking title of the season.

The ‘Juddernaught’ beat O’Sullivan 9-7 in the final in a high-quality affair and lost just 17 frames in seven matches in Belfast.

That victory may have provided the confidence boost the 29-year-old needed going into the first big event of the season.

Trump is on the same side of the draw as O’Sullivan so there is a real chance he will meet the holder before the final.  However, the world number five has been handed a kind section three draw and should have a fairly straightforward passage to the quarter-finals, with world number 12 Ryan Day the only real danger in that section.

Allen can go far after home blow

Mark Allen suffered a first round exit in his home tournament but can put that Northern Ireland Open disappointment behind him with a big performance in York.

The reigning Masters champion landed the second biggest prize of his career at the International Championship in China earlier this season and has a good record in the UK Championship, having finished as the runner-up in 2011.

Allen is 3.75 to win the fourth quarter and although 4.00 shot Mark Williams remains a danger, he looks good value to go on a march in the first major of the year after his impressive display in Daqing.

The Northern Irishman is in the opposite side of the draw to Trump and is 11.00 to reach the final, while a showdown between the two in the showpiece is 34.00.

A few potential first round upsets

The first round tends to throw up a few surprises and China’s Chen Zifan may be able to shock Michael Holt at 3.65.

Holt hasn’t been beyond the third round in any tournament so far this season and Chen did manage a surprise win over world number six Barry Hawkins in Northern Ireland.

Eden Sharav can also spring a surprise on Akani Songsermsawad at 2.40 and veteran star Jimmy White can roll back the years with a victory over Thailand’s Thepchaiya Un-Nooh at 3.45.