Entries are already being processed for this year’s Stubbington Ark Hampshire Darts Open.

The competition was launched just a week ago and is being backed by the Fareham animal shelter which has been serving the community by taking in and re-homing abandoned animals for 25 years, writes Clive Downton.

Play will again be staged at Southampton’s Novotel and up to 400 players are expected to take part on April 12.

However current champion Scott Mitchell, pictured above, from Bransgore in the New Forest will not be there to defend his title.

Mitchell’s goal for this year is to collect enough ranking points to get back to the Lakeside for the BDO World Championships next January.

He made a flying start when he won the Romanian Open earlier this month and will be toeing the oche in the German Open on the weekend of the Hampshire event.

Mitchell said: “I’m so disappointed. I’m up to number eight in the world (BDO) now and I would love to play in front of local people.

“It’s unfortunate but I will not be able to go.

“My number one priority is getting back to the Lakeside and other things like parties and weddings have had to go by the wayside and so will the Hamphire Open on this occasion.

“But I will be keeping an eye on things from Germany and seeing who wins the crown.”