2015 winner Brett Miller came through the Order of Merit last year and ended up Champion.
It’s always a bit of a thrill for me when the bookies price up my event. It always feels strange to see it there on Oddschecker and on the websites listed next to major sporting events and today Boyles have kindly priced up the outrights again for this year here.
In a way it is a bit different this season. As places are being taken up so quickly I was able to send over a more or less complete list of entries to them and they have come up with their interpretation of what I told them. Which I stress was nothing more than names and how many qualifiers they have entered.
For those unfamiliar with how it works, there are 11 qualifying heats this year so effectively 11 chances to make the Grand Finals. Some players enter a lot of them to give themselves a better chance, both of automatically qualifying and of topping the ongoing Order of Merit, others pick and choose.
Indeed last year’s eventual champion Brett Miller, was a player who got into the Grand Finals by virtue of his place on the Order of Merit so this is proof that it’s worthwhile entering more qualifiers to give yourself that advantage.
Brett is back to defend his title this year and has entered 6 qualifiers (he’s on a waiting list for a further 2) so he clearly has his eye on repeating history this year, though of course, he has proved that he may not need the Order of Merit this time around and could easily qualify early. He is 25/1 to retain the title, something nobody has yet done in the 4 years we’ve been running. The Curse?
Here are a few other pointers:
No player that has ‘fallen off’ the tour the previous year has yet won the SB Classic. Only 1 former professional, David Gray in 2013, has lifted the trophy, all other winners have been amateur players, never having been professional, when they won.
Brett Miller (25/1) was the first player to win the SBC who had qualified from the Order of Merit, the runner-up on that list Phil O’Kane (33/1) made the semi-finals at Grand Finals Day last season. Prior to this, all eventual champions had won their first qualifying heat.
By definition, with the exception of the first champion, Martin O’Donnell, every winner had entered the SB Classic at least one year before they won it, in the case of Ant Parsons (10/1) and Brett Miller (25/1), they had entered the previous two SB Classics before winning.
Jamie Clarke (7/1) has made the Grand Finals Day for the last 3 seasons, the only other player to have made 3 Grand Finals Day is Syd Wilson, who is now professional.
The last 3 runners-up in the SB Classic have turned professional the following season, those being Kyren Wilson, Mitchell Mann and Daniel Wells.
Number of Entries:
This might be a deciding factor in placing a bet, will you go for someone who has given themselves every chance by entering multiple events or someone who has ‘cherry picked’. Let’s take a look at the players at the top of the betting.
As things stand:
Jamie Clarke @ 7/1 has entered one qualifying weekend in Gloucester.
Elliott Slessor @ 8/1 has entered two qualifiers.
2014 Champion Ant Parsons @ 10/1 has entered three qualifiers.
Alex Taubman @ 12/1 has entered more than six qualifiers.
Joe Roberts @ 14/1 has entered one qualifier.
SWSA Gaffer Andrew Norman @ 14/1 has entered one qualifier (guess where?), ditto Preston’s Chris Norbury @ 22/1 who owns one of the venues.
There are lots of familiar names in the tournament (anyone spot David Roe @ 66/1?) and I can’t wait for it to get started. I can’t call it, a lot of the ‘regulars’ from previous years have flown the nest and turned professional but those who remain are a force to be reckoned with. There are a lot of players trying their hand for the first time, which makes this year’s tournament all the more exciting for me as it has a feel of new blood coming in.
A final note that players are welcome to bet on this, the outright book will close when the first event gets underway in October in Liverpool. Boyles have indicated that for new customers it will lay bets to win up to £4000. Please note that these prices are right at time of posting and that this is from the current known crop of entrants, with a few places at certain venues left to fill.
PRICES CORRECT AT TIME OF WRITING