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World Championship Snooker: Selby is a winner so why isn't he favourite for The Crucible?

Next stop the Crucible . . . Mark Selby enjoys his Masters moment

"Selby is the only player to have got himself up enough to win more than one of the six European Tour events. Is it any wonder he has also been on song in two of the Majors?"

Mark Selby confirmed his place as snooker's number one by taking the Betfair Masters to add to his UK title. Ralph Ellis wonders why the markets are still unsure of his World Championship credentials...

"Winners win."

It's one of those slogans that I've seen stuck up on walls in training grounds and dressing rooms. You know the sort of thing: "There's no I in team," or "When the going gets tough, the tough get going."

The message is that finishing first should become a habit. The more you compete, the more you expect to win, and the more you win the more you want to compete. I don't know if Mark Selby has it somewhere on the wall of his practice room at home, but I rather suspect that even if he doesn't it is very much part of his ethos.

Selby became the Betfair Masters champion last weekend, adding that to his UK title. He's inevitably talking about his next target being the World Championship at The Crucible in April - and so joining an elite band of only three players who have held the sport's three 'Majors' in the same season. It's a worthy ambition, but just as interesting to me was the way he plans on going about achieving it - by turning up for pretty much every event on offer between now and then.

When I talked to Judd Trump ahead of the Masters for the Betfair Big Interview I was curious about what seemed like a little dig at Selby in his replies. He suggested that the "Jester from Leicester" was more interested in collecting trophies and ranking points from around the circuit, and thus getting his status as the sport's number one, than he was in winning the big prizes.

To back up his argument Trump won't be in Blackpool this weekend for the World Snooker Shootout - but Selby will be. And the Masters champion, is 16.015/1 favourite just ahead of John Higgins in the early betting.

Personally I take a different view. I think that playing consistently and winning in smaller tournaments is a good way to keep your 'A game' brushed up, so that it's ready to go when the big ones come along. Selby is the only player to have won more than one of the six European Tour events. Is it any wonder he has also been on song in two of the Majors?

Trump had taken time off over Christmas to recharge his batteries after his shock first round exit to Mark Joyce in the UK Championship and, to be honest, much as I enjoyed talking to him and found him an engaging and friendly soul his rustiness showed at Alexandra Palace. He scraped through his first round with Barry Hawkins and was then completely outplayed by Graeme Dott.

Selby, meanwhile, looked in superb form on his way to winning and it's hard to understand why he isn't favourite for the World Championship now. In fact the current price of 7.613/2 looks cracking value - in any other sport a man who held two of the top titles would be around evens to win the next one.

It's not even that it's like tennis or golf where different surfaces or courses can favour another one of the players - the green baize is pretty much the same wherever you park the table.

Winners win. And at the moment Mark Selby is a winner so backing him gives you every chance of being the same.

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23 January 2013

Snooker

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