And it was all going so well. Just prior to Christmas our fifth attempt at the £1k Challenge came to an abrupt end when Fleetwood Town and Bury were unable to go over the 1.5 goal mark – a bet which had landed in 40 of their previous combined 44 outings. A cruel slice of luck that brought an end to a streak of 12 consecutive winning wagers.
But fear not, brave punters, as we dust ourselves down and prepare to go again. New year, new start, and hopefully a ‘bag of sand’ to furnish our bank accounts in a few months time.
But all journeys start with a first step, and so here’s our first foray into the challenge:
Bet 1: Glen Durrant to beat Nick Kenny – £10 at 1/5
Saturday January 7, 13:00
Darts is a sport that has served us well in this challenge in the past, and we kick off our latest attempt with, taken in context, an excellent price. Glen Durrant is the red-hot 6/4 favourite to land the BDO World Championship, and that’s no big surprise: he has captured back-to-back World Masters crowns, was hugely impressive in reaching the last 16 of the cross-code Grand Slam of Darts and has won eight other titles this term.
Nick Kenny is a capable thrower but in his first Lakeside appearance, against the best BDO player around, he will surely fall short.
Bet 2: Wycombe to Qualify vs Stourbridge – £12 at 1/8
Saturday January 7, 15:00
Northern League outfit Stourbridge will enjoy one of the most special away days in the club’s history on Saturday; it’s just a shame they will run into a Wycombe side in fine form.
The Chairboys are unbeaten in ten in League Two, with eight wins in their last nine starts. This being a challenge wager we’re looking to keep risk to a minimum, hence the ‘to qualify’ selection which ensures Wycombe can use the replay to advance should they need one.
Bet 3: Jeff Smith to beat Seigo Asada – £13.50 at 1/6
Saturday January 7, 19:00
Back to the darts now and Jeff ‘The Gentleman’ Smith, who in his last two appearances in the BDO World Championship has reached the semi-final and then the final last year. The Lakeside stage brings out the very best of him, and in November’s Grand Slam of Darts he qualified from his group – beating Simon Whitlock – before taking five legs from Phil Taylor.
Seigo Asada has never been past the first round of this tournament and should provide a decent run-out for Smith, who will have glory in mind.
Bet 4: Jamie Hughes to beat Martin Atkins – £15.75 at 2/7
Sunday January 8, 22:00
A final trip to the darts for our last selection this week, and here we are backing the excellent Jamie Hughes to proceed to the second round at the expense of Martin Atkins.
Hughes reached the semi-final here a year ago and reached the last four of the World Darts Trophy in 2016, but his crowning glory came in averaging 106.32 in beating Dave Chisnall at the Grand Slam of Darts. Hughes finished above Chizzy and James Wade in his group before succumbing 9-10 to talented young upstart Chris Dobey in the last 16.
Beset by injuries, Atkins has never played his best darts on the Lakeside stage and has progressed past the second round once in eleven visits.