What's on: Sporting Life pick out five big sports events for the week ahead

Sporting Life previews the big sporting events coming up over the next seven days

Sporting Life highlights the main events of the week with key details and odds, so you don't miss a thing.

Racing – Cheltenham’s Showcase Meeting

Cheltenham returns this week with its opening fixture of the 2020-21 National Hunt season – billed as the Showcase Meeting.

Racing continues behind closed doors and it will be no different at the home of British jumps action as the famous sporting amphitheatre plays host to action for the first time since the Festival which controversially went ahead as planned in March.

The two-mile October Handicap Chase and an often informative Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle are among the Friday features, while day two includes the Matchbook Betting Exchange Handicap Chase and the Showcase Novices’ Hurdle – both over a gruelling three miles of Prestbury Park.

Racing - Doncaster

The Vertem Futurity Trophy Stakes - formerly known as the Racing Post Trophy - has an impressive roll of honour with the likes of High Chaparral, Motivator, Authorized, St Nicholas Abbey, Camelot, and Saxon Warrior all winning at Doncaster in the last 20 years before going on to enjoy great success as three-year-olds.

Kameko won the last year's renewal - rerouted to Newcastle owing to bad weather - and he returned this season to claim Classic glory in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.

As ever, Aidan O'Brien is highly likely to have a strong hand and expect the master of Ballydoyle to send over multiple contenders, while the home team could be an exciting one once again with the likes of Richard Hannon and Charlie Appleby having possible runners.

Football – Champions League

The Champions League is back!

Thirty-two teams, eight groups and all starting with a clean slate, matchday one of the 20/21 tournament gets underway on Tuesday.

Last season’s winners Bayern Munich are favourites to retain the trophy at 7/2, while Man City (4/1), Liverpool (6/1) and PSG (10/1) are close behind in the betting. Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona are at 12/1 and 14/1 respectively.

Premier League champions Liverpool - without Alisson Becker and Virgil van Dijk - get their Group D campaign underway on Wednesday with a trip to Ajax, while they are also paired with Atalanta and Midtjylland.

Pep Guardiola’s City will be hoping to bounce back after their shock quarter-final elimination by Lyon last time out. They host Porto in Group C, which also features Olympiacos and Marseille.

Big-spending Chelsea start against Europa League winners Sevilla on Tuesday in Group E, also consisting of Krasnodar and Rennes, while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Man United have a tough start against 19/20 runners up PSG in Group H which also contains RB Leipzig and Istanbul Basaksehir.

Golf – Zozo Championship

Tiger Woods is back in action at the Zozo Championship, likely his final stop before a long-awaited Masters defence. Woods is defending champion here, too, but does so at a different course with the event rerouted to California from Japan.

Not that it diminishes his prospects; rather, it enhances them. Sherwood Country Club used to host ‘Tiger’s event’ and he was always the man to beat, for all Zach Johnson and Graeme McDowell both managed to. Woods is hard to predict these days, but there’s no doubt he’s comfortable at the course.

Beyond the star attraction there’s a high-class field which will include Dustin Johnson – if his latest COVID-19 test comes up negative, after he was forced out of the CJ Cup last week. What a strange world it is right now. Sherwood will bring us something comfortingly familiar, at least.

Tennis – ATP Tour action

There’s ATP Tour action all over the world as the tennis season continues. Milos Raonic will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing semi-final defeat in Russia last week, the Canadian having looked on course to land a winner for Andy Schooler’s followers.

We’ll have more selections from our tennis expert in time for the action, which begins on Monday in Antwerp and Cologne. US Open runner-up Alex Zverev will take part in the latter while Raonic is over in Antwerp, where Andrey Rublev could well be the man to beat.

Responsible gambling

We are committed in our support of responsible gambling. Recommended bets are advised to over-18s and we strongly encourage readers to wager only what they can afford to lose.

If you are concerned about your gambling, please call the National Gambling Helpline on 0808 8020 133, or visit begambleaware.org.

Further support and information can be found at GamCare and gamblingtherapy.org.

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