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Following the first two days’ action at the Citywest Hotel in Dublin, the big guns in the betting for the World Grand Prix Darts, Phil Taylor and Michael van Gerwen, have their eyes firmly on the £400,000 prize.
Reigning champion Taylor, who is seeking his twelfth victory in the partypoker.com-sponsored tournament, cruised through his first round tie against Steve Beaton, winning 2-0, the same scoreline by which Mighty Mike saw off Vincent van der Voort on Tuesday.
Of course, no great surprises there, but the manner of Van Gerwen’s victory did raise the eyebrow. While the world No 1 was long odds on to beat his fellow countryman, the Dutch Destroyer was expected to give a better account of himself.
However, MVG was in no mood to give his close friend any leeway. He started the match with real intent, hitting a 180 in the opening leg and rounded off his 3-1 first-set victory in great style with a 100 checkout.
Van Gerwen is now a top-priced 11/4 with Bet365 and Betfair to thwart Taylor in Dublin this year, but The Power’s price has also contracted. Indeed, the Stoke man is now generally a 7/4 chance to maintain his firm grip on the title.
Taylor, Adrian Lewis, James Wade and Gary Anderson should all sail through their second round ties, but Thursday night’s matches look more competitive on paper and there are some good betting opportunities.
In the opening bout at 7.10pm, Peter Wright and Stephen Bunting lock horns in what promises to be a tight match – In fact, most bookies can’t separate them, going 10/11 each of two.
Wright, holder of the European Open title, had a bit of a wobble when losing the second set against Jamie Caven on Tuesday. And though Snakebite’s class saw him through as he landed the deciding set, Bunting will be a far tougher nut to crack.
The Liverpool man, who bagged the BDO World Championship at Lakeside earlier in the year, impressed when outpointing Ronnie Baxter 2-0 in his opening game of the tournament. I’ll be looking to recoup some of my losses from the Dave Chisnall-Barney match by steaming into Bunting at 10/11 with Sky Bet.
Another tie which should be a close-run thing is that between Richie Burnett and Terry Jenkins. The latter was in rude health when steamrolling over Kim Huybrechts in the opening round, hitting four 180s in the process.
Even though Burnett took a notable scalp on Tuesday when getting the better of Simon Whitlock, The Bull will take plenty of stopping if he’s again firing on all cylinders.
I reckon Jenkins will come though this clash with the Welshman without dropping a set so -1.5 in the handicap betting is very tempting indeed at 5/4 with BetVictor.
The two additional matches on Thursday evening look more one-sided. Michael van Gerwen should comprehensively outclass Dean Winstanley, while Dutch compatriot Raymond van Barneveld ought to prove too strong for Mervyn King.
World Grand Prix Darts betting advice:
Peter Wright v Stephen Bunting (7.10pm, Thursday)
Back Stephen Bunting @ 10/11 (SkyBet)
Richie Burnett v Terry Jenkins (8.10pm, Thursday)
Terry Jenkins -1.5 in the handicap betting – 5/4 (BetVictor)