It’s just two weeks to Christmas and the National Hunt season is now well under way with the build up to one of the biggest days of the season, the Boxing Day meeting at Kempton which features the King George VI Chase, one of the highlights of the calendar and which features a stellar field including Might Bite, Bristol De Mai, Sizing John, Thistlecrack, Fox Norton and Douvan.

To add a little extra fun to the punters that enjoy betting on races over the fences and hurdles, Coral Sport has just announced a brand-new offer called The Jumps.

Each day, Coral will select one or more races or race meetings as their Selected Races for this promotion and for every race, or number of races in a selected meeting, Coral will offer you a chance to earn your money back as a free bet if the horse you back in a selected race falls at one of the fences.

This offer includes if your horse falls at a a fence, is brought down by another horse or unseats the jockey at any point in the race. If any of these scenarios befall your selection, then Coral will reward you with a free bet matching your stake up to a maximum free bet award of £25.

Your free bet will be in your account from 12pm the following day and is valid for a period of 24-hours. You can use your free bet stake on any racing market.

If you place an Each Way bet on a horse and it falls, is brought down or unseats the rider, then you will lose the place part of your bet, but you will be paid out up to a maximum of £25 in free bets for the Win part of your bet.

If a horse pulls up or refuses to jump a fence, then those bets are not part of the offer and your bet will be a losing bet.

Given how heavy the conditions are over the winter months, and the number of fallers there are in National Hunt racing, this is a good value offer which punters can use repeatedly throughout the season on successive days.

However, while horse racing is one of the staples of the winter sports program in the UK this week also sees the start of another massive sports event which takes place right the way through Christmas and culminates on New Year’s Day 2018. That is the PDC World Darts Championship and we’re bringing you all the key details in our special preview below.

PDC World Darts Championship 2018 – A Preview

This year the PDC World Darts Championship once again comes from the Alexandra Palace (Ally Pally as it is known for the duration of the competition) in London as the cream of the PDC World Darts Organisation compete to become the 2018 World Champion, who will be crowned as is tradition on New Year’s Day.

Previous Winners

The first PDC Event was contested back in 1994 and 2017 will be the 24th time the tournament has been staged. The full list of winners for the event is as follows:

Year Winner Score Runner Up
1994 Dennis Priestley 6-1 Phil Taylor
1995 Phil Taylor 6-2 Rod Harrington
1996 Phil Taylor 6-4 Dennis Priestley
1997 Phil Taylor 6-3 Dennis Priestley
1998 Phil Taylor 6-0 Dennis Priestley
1999 Phil Taylor 6-2 Peter Manley
2000 Phil Taylor 7-3 Dennis Priestley
2001 Phil Taylor 7-0 John Part
2002 Phil Taylor 7-0 Peter Manley
2003 John Part 7-6 Phil Taylor
2004 Phil Taylor 7-6 Kevin Painter
2005 Phil Taylor 7-4 Mark Dudbridge
2006 Phil Taylor 7-0 Peter Manley
2007 Raymond van Barneveld 7-6 Phil Taylor
2008 John Part 7-2 Kirk Shepherd
2009 Phil Taylor 7-1 Raymond van Barneveld
2010 Phil Taylor 7-3 Simon Whitlock
2011 Adrian Lewis 7-5 Gary Anderson
2012 Adrian Lewis 7-3 Andy Hamilton
2013 Phil Taylor 7-4 Michael van Gerwen
2014 Michael van Gerwen 7-4 Peter Wright
2015 Gary Anderson 7-6 Phil Taylor
2016 Gary Anderson 7-5 Adrian Lewis
2017 Michael van Gerwen 7-3 Gary Anderson

Phil Taylor has won the event a record 14 times, with four players winning it twice – Gary Anderson, Adrian Lewis, John Part and Michael van Gerwen. Raymond van Barneveld and Dennis Priestley are both one-time PDC World Champions.

Taylor’s FarewellBet365 Darts Grand SLam 2015

The 2018 World Championships will be the final time that Phil Taylor, the 18-time PDC World Championship finalist and 14-time winner of the tournament will compete in the event. Indeed, this will be the final professional event in Taylor’s career unless he decides to come out of retirement in the future.

Taylor has a remarkable record in the event reaching 21 quarterfinals in 24 years and never being beaten in the semifinals of the event, winning all 18 semis he has competed in. The records he set in this event will likely never be matched.

Current World Rankings

The current PDC World Rankings are as follows:

Rank Name Rank Name Rank Name Rank Name
1 Michael van Gerwen 9 Raymond van Barneveld 17 Ian White 25 Steve Beaton
2 Peter Wright 10 Simon Whitlock 18 Kim Huybrechts 26 Cristo Reyes
3 Gary Anderson 11 James Wade 19 Joe Cullen 27 Justin Pipe
4 Daryl Gurney 12 Jelle Klaasen 20 Rob Cross 28 Rob Thornton
5 Mensur Suljovic 13 Michael Smith 21 Stephen Bunting 29 John Henderson
6 Phil Taylor 14 Benito van de Pas 22 Mervyn King 30 Mark Webster
7 Adrian Lewis 15 Alan Norris 23 Darren Webster 31 Jonny Clayton
8 Dave Chisnall 16 Gerwyn Price 24 Kyle Anderson 32 James Wilson

There are a total of 32 first round matches to be played which will start on Thursday 14th December and which will run until Thursday 21st December. The second round then begins on Friday 22nd December and runs until the 27th December (with a break for Christmas on the 24th and 25th December). The Third Round is played over two days on the 27th & 28th December with the quarter finals on the 29th, the Semi Finals on the 30th and the final two days later on the 1st January 2018.

Each night of First Round action will also see one of the eight Preliminary Round matches played, with the winner of that game going to take on a seeded player in the final match of the evening.

The winner this year takes home a record top prize of £400,000 and there is a record £1.8m in prize money to be shared amongst the players. A second-round loser will take home more money (£18,500) than the £16,000 won by first champion Dennis Priestley in the first ever PDC World Championship event back in 1994.

Highlights from the First Round of matches

Coral are offering betting on all of the First-Round games starting this Thursday and there are some cracking clashes in prospect.

A real eye-catcher is Michael van Gerwen’s clash with former BDO World Champion Christian Kist (16/1). The Dutchman is 1/100 to win this first round clash but Kist is a very solid player and a former World Champion himself in the BDO and if van Gerwen starts slowly could there be a huge shock on the cards here.

An all Dutch clash between Jelle Klaasen and Jan Dekker also catches the eye as does James Wade’s clash with the improving Keegan Brown. Daryl Gurney’s clash with Ronny Huybrechts also promises to be one of the best matches of the opening round of games.

Who do the bookies think will win?

Given his form in 2016 and 2017 in particular, it is no surprise that Michael van Gerwen is the 8/11 favourite with Coral to win the event. Gary Anderson, a two-time winner, is second favourite at 13/2 with Peter Wright seeking his first ever world title a 10/1 shot. Phil Taylor is 12/1 in his last ever World Championships alongside newcomer Rob Cross. Outside of these players the odds lengthen sharply with Adrian Lewis a 33/1 shot, Daryl Gurney 40/1, Mensur Suljovic 5-/1 and Raymond van Barneveld at 66/1 the only players ranked at better than 100/1 to win the event.

The best bet?

I think van Gerwen is odds on to reach the final given his somewhat favourable draw and his current form, so for me the best odds are available in selecting from the To Reach the Final market with Coral and my top here is the 6/1 shot Rob Cross who has enjoyed a stellar year on tour this year and is a much better player than his current World Ranking suggests. I expect him to reach the quarter finals at least and if the draw is favourable, he could go all the way.