A Chester-born snooker player has enlisted the help of a former world champion in his efforts to break into the professional ranks.
Jack Bradford has turned full-time and is eyeing a place on the new Challenge Tour that will launch next year and give amateur players a chance to win a Main Tour card.
But first up for the 26-year-old is a shot at glory at the World Amateur Championship in Qatar next week.
And Bradford will enter the big event, which has been won previously by the likes of Jimmy White, Ken Doherty and Marco Fu, on the back of practice sessions with Dennis Taylor.
Taylor, who famously beat Steve Davis on the black to win the 1985 World Championship, is part of the new World Seniors Tour.
And the 68-year-old has been giving Bradford a helping hand along with Main Tour veteran Rod Lawler.
Bradford, who plays for Broughton Wings in the Chester League, said: “I can’t wait for the championship and I’ve been putting in as much prep as possible.
“I’ve been practising five, six or seven hours a day on the table and also going to play with local pros like Rod Lawler, who has took me under his wing. He’s been around as long as I’ve been alive so I can learn a lot from him!
“I’ve also been playing with Dennis Taylor. He lives in Gresford and initially he was practising at Rileys in Chester. I saw him there one day and asked if he’d like to come and practice on the match tables at Broughton with me and another lad, Neal Jones.
“It’s weird because I grew up watching videos of him in the 1985 final and listening to him as a commentator. I’ve grown up with him and now he’s practising with me a couple of times a week. It’s a weird feeling but great.”
Bradford, from Ewloe, had to find new practice partners after Gareth Allen lost his Main Tour card and then retired from the sport and another local professional, Alex Taubman, had a change in his personal life.
But that change did allow Bradford to make the World Amateur Championship in the first place.
“It’s all based on your national rankings and last year I missed out on a place at the championships by one place and this year I missed out by one place,” said Bradford, who has started up a DJ business with Allen called Top Spin Discos.
“But Alex Taubman, who finished one place above me in the national rankings, found out his missus was having a baby, and she’s due to give birth while the tournament is on, so he had to turn it down.
“As it happened, I would have been invited anyway, because they offered another place, but initially it was because Alex had to pull out, and after being devastated at missing out last year, I snapped their hand off.
“I’m going to be playing the best of the best so if I can do well there is no reason why I can’t have a run on the Challenge Tour and push for a professional card.”
Bradford is looking for individuals and companies to sponsor his trip to Qatar and if you are interested you can call him on 07525 474279 .
Meanwhile, top Chester potter Ricky Walden was knocked out of the International Championship at the last-32 stage.
The world number 22 lost 6-4 to Yan Bingtao after beating Peter Ebdon 6-5.