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Thursday's Sport: Ally Pally showpiece gets started

The start of the World Darts Championship is the highlight of Thursday's sport, while there is also football and golf to look forward to.

There are four matches at the Alexandra Palace on Thursday evening and the tournament is often seen as both a pre and post-Christmas treat, with the final set to take place on 3rd January.

The Scottish Premiership is also set to resume as a new era dawns for Rangers, while one of the most picturesque weeks on the golfing calendar gets under way on Thursday, for what is the final tournament of the year.

There is also the continuing English Open snooker taking place at the Brentwood Centre in Essex.

Darts: All eyes on the Ally Pally

What: World Darts Championship, Day One
Where: Alexandra Palace, London
When: Thursday December 15th 2022 - Tuesday January 3rd, 2023
How to watch: Sky Sports Main Event & Arena
Odds: Michael van Gerwen 5/2, Gerwyn Price 6/1, Michael Smith 15/2, Peter Wright 10/1, Luke Humphries 14/1

For many sports fans, Christmas only truly starts when the darts comes on the telly and the 30th PDC World Darts Championship gets underway on Thursday at the Alexandra Palace with four matches due to take place.

Northern Ireland's Mickey Mansell, who made the second round of the 2022 event, opens the show against Kiwi Ben Robb at 19:15 and Mansell is 8/13 to be the Match Winner.

bet365 are also offering Bet Boosts on all four matches on Thursday, with a Match Double on Mickey Mansell To Win Match & Highest Checkout available at 7/4.

Then at 20:00, Keane Barry, a semi-finalist at March's UK Open, faces South African Grant Sampson.

With the Irishman just 1/12 as the Match Winner, Keane Barry To Win Set & Most 180s as a First Set Double is could appeal as a Bet Boost at 7/4.

Then at 20:45, there could be a real barnstormer as 'The Machine Gun' Jermaine Wattimena faces 'The Natural' Nathan Rafferty.

Wattimena has twice previously reached the third round at the Ally Pally but his mixed form this season means the 6/4 for debutant Rafferty as Match Winner might be worth a look.

That's not all, as defending champion Peter Wright is set to close the show on Thursday.

'Snakebite' beat Michael Smith to claim his second world title last January and he is billed to take on the winner of the opener between Mansell and Robb.

Scottish Premiership: A new era at Rangers

What: Rangers v Hibernian
Where: Ibrox, Glasgow
When: 20:00, Thursday 15th December
How to watch: Sky Sports Football and Main Event
Odds: Rangers 3/10, Draw 19/4, Hibernian 17/2

After a tough time pre-World Cup, it is a fresh start in more ways than one for Rangers as they host Hibernian.

The Gers crashed out of the Champions League group stages in record style and resume their domestic campaign nine points behind bitter rivals Celtic.

It was expected that Giovanni van Bronckhorst would be given until the second Old Firm game of the season on 2nd January but the board decided to act during the break, with Michael Beale replacing the Dutchman.

Beale is a familiar face at Ibrox having worked under Steven Gerrard and has been appointed after just five months as a head coach at Queens Park Rangers.

The 42-year-old's first game comes against eighth-placed Hibernian, who lost their last three Premiership matches heading into the hiatus.

Having dropped just two points at home in the league this season, Rangers are the obvious favourites and captain James Tavernier is 2/1 in a Bet Boost To Score at Any Time.

DP World Tour: Paradise calls

What: Mauritius Open
Where: Mont Choisy Le Golf
When: Thursday 15th October - Sunday 18th October
How to watch: Sky Sports Golf & Main Event, bet365 Live Golf Tracker
Odds: Thomas Detry 13/2, Dean Burmester 13/2, Antoine Rozner 14/1, Laurie Canter 18/1, Oliver Bekker 18/1

Tour-level golf can be a brutal profession, but the chance to follow the sun is one of its attractions and the final event of the calendar year sees the DP World Tour head to the idyllic Indian Ocean island of Mauritius.

The Mauritius Open takes place at Mont Choisy Le Golf to the schedule and returns for the first time since 2019 when Rasmus Hojgaard won with an eagle at the third play-off hole.

Hojgaard is not in this week's field, but the two men he beat in extra holes, Antonie Rozner and Renato Paratore are 14/1 and 28/1, respectively, to win the tournament.

Thomas Detry is 13/2 to take his first DP World Tour win, while Dean Burmester is also 13/2 as he chases his third victory.

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