Our team pick out their best bets for Saturday's sport, which includes racing at Aintree and Wincanton, snooker from Coventry and the Grand Slam of Darts.
- The Russian Doyen - 2.05 Aintree
With Doncaster falling victim to the torrential rain in the north this week all eyes are on the jumps action on Saturday. Aintree escaped the worst of the downpours and stage a fascinating card on which THE RUSSIAN DOYEN looks the best bet in the Virgin Bet Handicap Chase.
Colin Tizzard’s charge won two of his four novice chases last term, including on his reappearance, and ended the campaign with a fine fourth behind A Plus Tard in the Close Brothers at the Cheltenham Festival. He shaped very well through that contest, hitting the front on the bridle three out before tiring up the hill.
The handicapper has been kind in dropping him a pound for the run, meaning he’s only two above the mark from which he won at Newbury in January, and he has the scope to make even more progress this term.
- Native Robin - 1.15 Wincanton
NATIVE ROBIN looks a good bet in the Z Hotels Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Chase at Wincanton (1.15) on Saturday. Jeremy Scott’s horses are in good form and Native Robin ran well on his reappearance at Stratford, travelling well throughout before he tired late on for a five-length second.
That should’ve put him spot on for this and he’s a course and distance winner at Wincanton, while he was fourth in this race last year after being a little outpaced. That was his first race after an eight-month absence, though, so he should be in a better place to challenge this time around and any rain would help his cause, too, and there is some forecast.
Despite going up 5lb for his luckless last fence fall here last month, WHITE MOON still looks well handicapped on the strength of his effort at Cheltenham last November when holding every chance only to be practically knocked to the ground at the final fence.
With the first three home Count Meribel, Le Breuil and Mr Whipped now rated 151, 151 and 149 respectively, Colin Tizzard's grey must have chances of enjoying a change of fortune off just 142.
CHELSEA's hot streak of five straight wins is on the line when away-day specialists Palace visit the Bridge in the early kick-off - only Liverpool, Man City and Chelsea themselves have won more games on the road that Roy Hodgson's men in the last 18 months.
Frank Lampard can do no wrong recently, Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount have played their way into the England squad, while Christian Pulisic has made an immediate impact when finally being given his chance - scoring four goals in two games (which is why he's just 6/4 to bag again).
Chelsea also set-up better as an away side with their speed on the break, but they'll have little space against Palace who will defend deep and trust their own speedy attackers to cause trouble at the other end against the worst defence in the top half of the Premier League.
Chelsea should win, but of their seven Premier League victories they have conceded in five and that looks the most likely outcome again.
The concern is real now at Arsenal, and although they have a friendly little run of fixtures after this, it will get worse before it gets better as this game on the face of it looks exactly what Unai Emery's side doesn't need right now.
LEICESTER have been the total package so far, as the second-top scorers with the joint-best defence in the division, they're solid and hard-working at the back but have quality through midfield and a clinical ruthlessness up front - plus the Premier League's top scorer in Jamie Vardy.
The way Arsenal have been defending of late the Foxes will be licking their lips at the prospect of facing a side under huge pressure in Emery's 50th Premier League game in charge.
Arsenal still have plenty of quality and an ability to score at any time, but they haven't looked anywhere near good enough to challenge this flying Leicester side, who are as short priced as they've been for a couple of years against a top half team at home, and if you've seen these teams play recently the home win is the only outcome you'd be comfortable backing.
The underdog's unbeaten 29-fight record (one draw) looks good at first glance, but closer inspection reveals he has mixed in very mediocre company and has boxed solely in his native country up to this point.
This hasn't escaped the attention of the layers, with BILLY JOE SAUNDERS a best price of 4/9 to get the stoppage and while I expect those odds to be landed at some point, the better value looks to be the 15/8 (Sky Bet) about it being in the second half rather than the 6/4 available about the champion getting the job done in rounds one to six.
Saunders is known more for silky skills than his knockout power, and all of his last six scheduled 12-rounders have gone the distance, so while the gulf in class and desire to make a statement can tell in the end, it may not be the early night many are expecting.
MARK ALLEN has made a couple of semi-finals already this season and although yet to get his hands on any silverware, he looks to be approaching peak form and can count himself a shade unlucky not to have triumphed at the English Open having led eventual winner Mark Selby 5-3 in their epic semi-final before losing out.
He has been in good touch since, gaining revenge on Selby here on Tuesday, and Judd Trump could be his latest casualty with the latter having shown he is far from bombproof in the last couple of months. Allen currently has the head-to-head edge over Trump (13-10) and with this lightning-fast table in Coventry playing to his strengths, he looks a bet at 13/8.
BRENDAN DOLAN is playing fantastic darts at the moment, winning two Players Championship titles since August while he even averaged 112 in his final qualifier on Monday to book his spot in Wolverhampton.
Something has clicked for the History Maker, who upset the odds to reach the World Championship quarter-finals last year, as he bids to rise back up the rankings in emphatic fashion and this would be another great opportunity to do just that.
Dolan's averages on the floor have been superb of late - often pushing 100 and beyond - and defeated the likes of Jeffrey de Zwaan, Chris Dobey, Dave Chisnall, Glen Durrant and Jermaine Wartimena to end his five-year wait for a title in August before playing equally brilliant stuff to overcome Gerwyn Price, Peter Wright and Ian White to bag another last month.
He's 5/1 to win his group, the best bet of the day, but don't rule out a run at the title at three-figure prices.