Sky Sports very own darts guru Dave Clark talks exclusively to the Paddy Power Blog and picks out his winners ahead of tonight’s opening night of Grand Prix darts at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin.
Thornton won the players championship event in Dublin yesterday and his manager said he couldn’t miss a dart and is in phenomenal form. Mark Walsh doesn’t have a great record here, he reached the semi-final a couple of years ago but hasn’t been playing terrifically well on the circuit. Rob Thornton, the UK Open champion of course, has never got past round two here but he’s in great form and could easily win it 2-0 here.
One thing that worries me about Chisnall is his ability to get the doubles. He’s a power scorer. A fantastic scorer on the floor and a fantastic scorer on the big stage but he struggles on doubles. With the pace of his throw sometimes he gets a bit edgy, he misses a couple and his head goes a bit. Having to do it twice in each game is going to be tough for Chisnall so I don’t fancy him. Dean Whinstanley was the world championship runner-up in 2011 and is in great form. He fancies a bit of a run here and I’m backing him to upset the odds and win this one.
It was a massive win in the European Championships for Simon Whitlock but who would want to run in to Justin Pipe in the first round of any competition, particularly in the best of three sets? He’s one of the slowest throwers on the circuit, he grinds out victories and he can grind you down. He’s been throwing well and is now number 11 in the world. Simon Whitlock has a hell of a job getting through this match and I’m avoiding betting on this one. Justin Pipe has the game, has the ability, and has the mental strength to cause an upset.
The way King is playing you’d agree that Jenkins should be favourite for this match. Terry is a seven-time major finalist and it’s about time he had another good run to a major final. He’s got a tough draw all the way through and this will be close, King will push him all the way, but Jenkins will just nick it tonight.
This will be fantastic and could go all the way to a thrilling climax. Gary Anderson is back with a bang after a good run in the players championship but again he has a frailty on the doubles. Time and time again we’ve seen Anderson get massive leads in terms of legs and throw it away. His form is fragile at the minute and Brendan Dolan will have the passionate Irish fans behind him. He’s on a high still from last year, a 500/1 outsider 12 months ago he went on to the final and lost to Taylor, he hit a 9-darter along the way as well. He loves the format and I haven’t seen him at the venue today which means he’s on the practice board already. Irish eyes will be smiling tonight as Dolan does a job on Anderson.
Smith is red-hot on the youth tour and managed by Gary Anderson who gives him a lot of tips and pays some of his entry fees on the circuit. He’s a good player and one for the future but Phil Taylor will want to send out a message tonight and it will be a comfortable victory. When Taylor’s won his first round match only once before has he crashed out before going on to win it but Taylor should win tonight.
Huybrechts has been in phenomenal form on the circuit, absolutely outstanding. He’s only been a professional for 15 months and he’s reached the last eight in eleven pro-tour events and is chasing his first ranking title. He’s a good price to win this event outright and you wouldn’t back against him tonight. Kevin Painter is a little bit out of sorts. He really enjoyed the Premier League but showed he wasn’t quite in the same class as the top eight players in the world. Painter is a four-time quarter-finalist here but isn’t the player he was and shouldn’t cause an upset against Huybrechts tonight.
Van der Voort has been struggling with a persistent back problem but I saw him today and he said his back was alright so he should be in good form. He’s a big guy and it was affecting his throw, he was in agony after each match which shows why he wasn’t playing well on the pro-tour. When William O’Connor burst onto the scenes a few years ago we expected big things from him but he hasn’t delivered. I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes, maybe he’s not practising as hard as he should. It will be close with the Irish fans getting behind O’Connor but VVV is the ‘Dutch Destroyer’ and he’ll win tonight.