Champion Judd Trump is hot favourite to retain his UK Snooker Championship crown with sponsors Here STEVE CARROLL looks at the Barbican betting market

JUDD TRUMP isn’t just the world number one, he is a clear favourite to defend his UK Championship title.

The reigning champ is a short-priced 7-2 to lift the famous trophy aloft once more at York’s Barbican on December 9 following his 10-8 victory over Mark Allen last year and a subsequent run of scintillating form that has taken him to the summit of the game.

Victory in the last ranking tournament, the International Championship in China, and a 4-0 victory over John Higgins in the final of the recent Bulgarian Open established the Bristol potter as the man to beat when snooker’s second biggest tournament gets under way on Saturday.

But trends are against Trump, No player has successfully held on to the UK Championship title since Stephen Hendry 16 years ago.

Higgins, meanwhile, is joint 7-1 second favourite with Neil Robertson despite having never made it past the semi-finals at York, and two-time winner Ding Junhui, who won the competition in York in 2005 and in Telford four years later, is 10-1.

Punters looking for a bit of value could take a sideways glance at former world number one Mark Selby (11-1), last year’s finalist Mark Allen (12-1) and, for those who like their prices to be on the even larger side, 2003 champion Matthew Stevens (33-1).

The sponsors have made Trump a banker to win his first round match against qualifier Mark Joyce on Sunday. He is a prohibitive 1-7 favourite to progress while Selby (1-5 on against Michael White), Stephen Maguire (3-10 against Fergal O’Brien) and Higgins (1-4 over Michael Holt) are similarly fancied.

Steve Davis, who overcome all the odds in the qualifying tournament at Sheffield’s World Snooker Academy to make the final stages in York, is 12-5 to stun Ali Carter (3-10) in their first round match.

Harder games to call include Barry Hawkins v Liang Wenbo (8-15 and 11-8 respectively) and Graeme Dott v Martin Gould (4-6 and 11-10).

So which two players will make the final?

The smart money is going on a Trump/Higgins match-up at 8-1. The pair have contested the last two tour finals. Trump beat Neil Robertson in the final of the International Championship earlier in the month and a repeat of that contest is 9-1.

You can bank on Trump and Allen renewing their York rivalry for the trophy at 14-1 while, of the bigger prices, a Mark Williams/Selby final is 40-1. UK Championship tournament winner odds (sponsors bet):

7-2 Judd Trump, 7-1 John Higgins, 7-1 Neil Robertson, 10-1 Ding Junhui, 11-1 Mark Selby 12-1 Mark Allen, 14-1 Shaun Murphy, 16-1 Mark Williams, 18-1 Stephen Maguire, 22-1 Stuart Bingham, 25-1 Allister Carter, 33-1 Matthew Stevens, 40-1 Ricky Walden, 50-1 Barry Hawkins, 50-1 Graeme Dott, 66-1 Cao Yupeng, 66-1 Luca Brecel, 66-1 Marco Fu, 66-1 Mark Davis, 66-1 Martin Gould, 66-1 Ryan Day, 66-1 Tom Ford, 80-1 Jack Lisowski, 100-1 Dominic Dale, 100-1 Liang Wenbo, 100-1 Michael Holt, 100-1 Michael White, 100-1 Robert Milkins, 125-1 Mark King, 150-1 Fergal O’Brien, 150-1 Mark Joyce, 150-1 Steve Davis. 1/2 odds place 1, 2.