STEPHEN Hendry says Ronnie O’Sullivan is the man to beat at the Betway UK Championship – but believes current world number one Mark Selby could push him all the way.

Seven-time World Snooker champion Hendry was speaking ahead of the prestigious event which begins on November 28 at the Barbican.

He said: “Ronnie O’Sullivan is going to be the man to beat, there’s no doubt about it.

"Ronnie is starting to dominate the game again. He won the English Open, he lost to Murphy in the final of the Champion of Champions, and then went to China and won there.

“He’s getting that winning aura about him again, and it looks to me that players are intimidated by him, which means Ronnie can win matches even when he's not playing at his best.”

O’Sullivan currently has five UK Championship titles to his name, the same number as Hendry. The Scotsman admitted he expects the Rocket to equal Steve Davis’ record of six triumphs.

“Ronnie is still going and competing to such a high standard," said Hendry. "He’s entering more and more tournaments these days, so it’s inevitable that these records are going to get broken.

"I have resigned myself to the fact that it is going to happen, if not this year then possibly next year.

“Losing records is never a nice thing, you can’t lie and say you don’t mind because you always do.”

Hendry believes that Mark Selby – priced by BetStars as joint 4/1 favourite with O’Sullivan – can be another major contender, and could defend his title.

He added: “Mark normally does very well in the big three events, certainly in the World Championships and the UK Championships – the long-frame matches suit his game. His form always comes good for the big events."

Twenty-two-year-old Belgian star Luca Brecel – priced at 40/1 with BetStars to win the event – could be the dark horse and worth an each-way bet, according to Hendry.

“40/1 would be a decent bet," he admitted. "If he was to get through the early stages and into the last 32 and last 16 then he could cause some problems.

“He’s an amazingly talented player. He’s got the game, he’s got the attitude, but until I see Brecel regularly appearing in semi-finals and finals, he won’t be considered a potential winner for the big events.

"If you want to be at the top of the sport you need to be competing for titles regularly.

“It’s great for Belgium to have a snooker hero, and bodes well for snooker in Europe. You only have to look at the popularity of snooker in China which is down to the success of Ding Junhui.”