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Darts: Upsets are par for the course in early bouts; SKY POKER WORLD GRAND PRIX SKY SPORTS 1 6pm.

Byline: Steve Davies

THE preposterous can happen in round one of the Sky Poker World Grad Prix - just ask Phil Taylor, writes Steve Davies.

Three times The Power has been bundled out at the first hurdle of this quirkiest of majors with its double-in format, so don't be afraid to oppose some favourites in round one.

There were four upsets in the eight matches on night one a year ago - Adrian Gray beating Taylor was the biggest of the lot - and Wayne Mardle, Colin Lloyd and Raymond van Barneveld all look vulnerable this evening.

Barney would have loved a cosy round one opener on his comeback from a three-month sabbatical, but he couldn't have hand-picked a tougher adversary than Alan Tabern.

The Saint has had a blinding 2008 culminating in victory in a Players Championship event in Wales last month. It was Tabern's third title of the year and he also booked his place in the Championship League final at just the second attempt.

A rock-solid scorer and deadly on his doubles, on current form he's the third best player in the world right now and that might just make him too hot for Barney, who lost to Tabern when they last met in Las Vegas in June.

The layers have factored all of that in to their pricing - six months ago Tabern would have been a 2-1 shot, now he's 6-5. But he probably ought to be favourite since he looks every bit as comfortable on the stage as the Dutchman - in fact arguably more so.

Mardle is most people's idea of a good thing against Felix McBrearty, but the Irish outsider gets my vote at 11-4 with Paddy Power and Skybet.

McBrearty stunned the arrers world by winning the Ireland Open Classic last month though none of the players he beat that day - among them Kevin McDine, Andy Hamilton and Colin Lloyd - complained that the wrong man had won.

McBrearty was a worthy winner on home soil and the Dromore darter has also recently claimed the Tyrone Individual title. This bloke is no mug and providing he copes with the stage - and the crowd will be on his side - he has to be considered.

Vincent van der Voort is also preferred to Colin Lloyd in what should be a real treat. The Dutchman has been a revelation since joining the PDC and reached another semi-final on Saturday.

Lloyd is in great form on the floor but can't win a match for love nor money on the telly - he went out at the first hurdle in his last three majors including a 9-4 crushing by Van der Voort at the UK Open - and against that background has to be taken on.

Recommendations

A Tabern

2pts 6-5 Boylesports, Totesport

F McBrearty

2pts 11-4 Skybet

V van der Voort

2pts 5-4 Skybet

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Alan Tabern
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Oct 6, 2008
Words:475
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