The oche is set for another cracking day of darts a week today as players battle for the prestigious Doves Vauxhall Hampshire Open title.

This year no firm favourites are being tipped to collect the £1,000 winners’ prize – giving county and super league players a great chance of securing the crown.

Reigning champion Johnny Haines can not make it to Southampton’s Novotel to defend his title and the handful of professionals who usually compete are otherwise engaged.

Joint organiser Frank Branscombe said: “It again looks set fair to be a brilliantly contested tournament and with over £2,600 in prize money available.

“It is thanks to the support of this year’s sponsors Doves Vauxhall, the Daily Echo, Novotel and Hampshire County Darts Organisation that there is so much to play for.”

But, as always, the day at the Novotel is not all about super league standard and top flight players.

A huge part of the 400-strong entry is made up of pub and club players who grab the opportunity to take part in the country’s biggest and best one-day open.

“Once again the tournament this year has attracted players of all ages ranging from a youth contingent to local Joe Freemantle who will be participating in his 13th event at the tender age of 85!” added Branscombe.

“Players from all over the UK will converge on the Novotel to battle for the title.

“Not forgetting the ladies who have a strong contingency of entries and who are determined not to let the men have it all their own way.”

The first games get underway at 11.30am and spectators are welcome – entry if £3.

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