RISING darts star Kirk Shepherd has waited a whole year to get his hands on the Daily Echo Hampshire Open trophy.

The 20-year-old from Ramsgate in Kent has been tipped for the very top by experts of the oche and he showed his potential when he lost out in the final at Southampton's Novotel last year.

This time round though, the maturing player made no mistake as he went one step further and left with the £1,000 winner's cheque tucked in his pocket.

It was a day for young talent as Shepherd got the better of 23-year-old Karl Forrington who had travelled down from Grimsby to take part in one of the country's biggest and best one-day open tournaments.

About 350 hopefuls toed the oche at around 11am at Southampton's Novotel and for some time it looked as if Somerset's Neil Raikes was going to become the first player to successfully defend the prestigious title.

But Raikes came up against Shepherd when there were just eight players left standing and this time the man from Kent dominated his opponent throughout.

"I knew I was in with a good chance of going all the way and winning it after I beat him," said Shepherd who already boasts a string of top titles.

"Last year he beat me 5-2 in the final but I had a lot of shots at doubles and this time I took my chances."

See today's Daily Echo for full report and pictures.