The qualifying competition for the British Open begins on Monday when the Morningside Arena in Leicester opens its doors to 16 players who will be looking to win the four frames which will send them into the main draw in Cheltenham.
These qualifying events are often phased so that the bigger players who are on show come along later in the week. With the top 16 all having their qualifier held over to the venue there isn’t too many elite stars on show but some competitive action should still be able to be enjoyed.
The World Championship semi-finalist Si Jiahui is probably one of the biggest players on show this week and he’ll begin the action on the main table when he takes on the German player Lukas Kleckers for a place in the main draw. As is often the case in these morning sessions, there is Chinese challenge on the other table on Monday too as Ma Hailong goes up against the veteran Ian Burns in a match both men will see as an opportunity to progress in.
Early Afternoon Session
The high profile session of the day will be the second one which begins two sets of matches in the afternoon. Stephen Hendry will be at the British Open whatever happens in his role as TV pundit but he would like to be there in a playing capacity. He needs to get the better of Muhammad Asif for that to be the case. The other match in this session sees two Asian players going at it when the Indian player Ishpreet Singh Chadha takes on the new Thai on the circuit Manasawin Phetmaliakul.
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Later Afternoon Session
Tom Ford has had a relatively quiet start to the season after he skipped the Championship League here. He did win his qualifier for the European Masters though and he’ll be looking to come through when he heads up the second afternoon session. James Cahill is a potentially awkward challenger in his way. The other match looks quite tricky to call as two talented players meet when Louis Heathcote goes up against the Belgian rising star Ben Mertens.
Three veterans of the circuit are on show in the evening session with two of them meeting each other in what could easily be a clash in the World Seniors. That sees Alfie Burden looking to build on what has been a decent start to the season when he meets Ken Doherty. Fergal O’Brien will be looking to pick up what is becoming a rare win on the main tour these days when he takes on the Estonian player Andres Petrov, who will be hoping that this is his best season on the circuit so far.
There isn’t a huge amount that I want to go at on the opening day on Monday but it was only a couple of months ago that Alfie Burden beat Ken Doherty 3-0 at the World Seniors and I suspect we might see the Englishman coming out on top with a bit to spare when they meet in the evening session. Since then, Burden has won two of his three matches in the Championship League and qualified for the European Masters next week so he has started the season well.
Doherty didn’t have as good a time of it in the Championship League, although to be fair he knocked off fellow veteran David Lilley to qualify for Germany next week which might have boosted his confidence. Doherty doesn’t score as well as he did these days and I always want the scorer on my side, especially in these shorter sprints where if someone gets away from you it is hard to grind your way back in. Burden scores the better of these two and at a big odds against price I’ll back him to win no worse than 4-2.
Back A.Burden (-1.5 frames) to beat K.Doherty for a 3/10 stake at 2.30 with William Hill
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