GB 9 Ball Tour Midlands Classic – Day One

Darren Appleton

The cream of Britain's pool talent congregated in the heart of the country today to begin season three of the GB 9 Ball Tour. Over the next three days, the beautiful Barceló Palace Hotel in Buxton, Derbyshire is housing the first ever British ranking event to be played in a hotel venue and the players were clearly chomping at the bit to get started after a lengthy five month break from national competition. In a change to the schedule from the previous two years, Friday's play now sees the opening 3 rounds of the Challenge Cup plus the opening round of the elite 32 man Pro Cup. 

In the Pro Cup, two usual suspects secured their spot in the last 16 but against very different opposition. Current World Pool Masters Champion, Darren Appleton overcame newly promoted Alan Coton by 9 racks to 5. Coton has proved to be somewhat of a giant-killer in previous events but the scalp of Appleton will have to wait for another day as ‘Dynamite' dispatched the Midlander in his now trademark, ‘no nonsense' fashion to set up a mouth-watering clash with Tony Drago in the next round. Mark Gray faced the polar opposite of Coton, in styles at least, as London based hot-shot So Shaw made his Pro Cup debut. Shaw, simply known as ‘Gamble', is one of the few players on our shores famed for money matches rather than tournament play. An imposing proposition to some maybe, but if Mark ‘Granite' Gray can be fazed, exactly how has not yet been discovered, Gray running out a convincing 9-1 winner. 

This season's Challenge Cup is undoubtedly the strongest to date. For an ‘amateur' competition, check this list out; Andy Richardson, former Mosconi Cup representative; World Pool Championship stars Stephen Capaldi and Andy Worthington; Stewart Colclough and Martinho Correia, British ranking event semi-finalists; needless to say, whoever finishes in a coveted top eight position come the end of the season will have truly deserved it.  Cueing smoothly in the opening rounds were Adam Shaw, winning 9-6 against Geoff Simpson; Gary Bullocke, making a positive return to the national scene with wins over Mathew Lawrenson and Chris Stocker, both by a 9-5 scoreline; Yorkshire's Ben Finch ousted Lee Brett 9-3 and followed that up with a 9-1 victory over John Davies. Round Three will be completed Saturday morning and play will continue down to a champion in both the Pro and the Challenge Cups. Live streaming will begin Saturday courtesy of Cuesport TV,, and Live Scoring is available through  

The GB 9 Ball Tour is supported by Barceló Hotels, SAM Leisure, Mezz Cues, Aramith, Simonis and Flexirest.