Ahead of a busy Easter weekend, the Sporting Life team provide their best bets for Saturday across a range of sports.
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CHASING THE RAIN made really good progress every time she stepped foot on the racecourse last year and there's every chance she's well treated on her seasonal return in the Fruit Shoot Fillies' Handicap at Wolverhampton.
It was here where the daughter of Toronado broke her duck on a six furlong novice event on October 30 and that came on the back of a promising fourth at Kempton.
She bumped into subsequent winner Red Impression at Kempton (now rated 96) and her win at Wolves hinted that she'd be fully effective once stepped up in distance this season.
So the move to seven furlongs isn't expected to prove a problem and a mark of 74 looks more than fair, while trainer Karl Burke just looks to have his string clicking into top gear (winner at Southwell on Sunday).
It's a warm enough race with James Tate and Roger Varian also unleashing potentially well treated handicap newcomers and Diamond Oasis lining up for Saeed bin Suroor on the back of a narrow success at Chelmsford.
But Chasing The Rain definitely has untapped potential and stepping up to seven furlongs could just unlock that improvement in the well-bred filly.
Lake Volta is well handicapped on the pick of his form, having slipped from 112 to 97 over the past 10 months, and he's well drawn in stall five for a horse that likes to get on with things. Ground conditions suit.
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Kevin Ryan has his team in tremendous shape at the start of the Flat season and Commander Han looks a horse to follow this season, starting in the Silver Arrow Handicap at Musselburgh.
It’s a race that Ryan won 12 months ago with Lualiwa and this year’s contender looks to hold excellent claims based on his two very solid placed efforts at Chelmsford when last seen in September.
He was bouncing back from two lesser efforts after being gelded last summer and even more can be expected of him providing he’s made the right sort of progress from three to four.
He certainly goes well fresh having won impressively first time out last April so fitness shouldn’t be a serious concern and with the Ryan yard firing on all cylinders, Commander Han looks a great bet.
Backing handicappers who appear to suddenly show improved form in conditions races is a fast route to impecunity but Royal Brave can prove that rules are there to be broken in the Scottish Sprint Cup at Musselburgh on Saturday.
Rebecca Bastiman's highly consistent course specialist, who has won five times from 14 visits, appeared to make a highly pleasing seasonal debut on a return appearance 18 days ago when, in a non-handicap, he stayed on well to take fourth behind Tanasoq, El Astronaute and Tarboosh despite meeting all three on disadvantageous terms.
A big call in the hope that the hosts will not be too leggy, but worth the gamble at this price.
They are quick starters, opening the scoring in midweek inside four minutes and in the opening 10 minutes in two of their last three Premier League games - and the other game was after just 10 minutes. This season they have scored in the opening quarter of an hour an impressive 24 times.
Spurs could be forgiven for a laboured start and a slightly rotated City can punish them and set the tone for this game. With the 11-20 minute period at 17/4, we are going for small stakes on each with a nice profit should either land.
Since his arrival, Babel has been directly involved in more league goals than any other player with four goals and three assists, one of which came against Everton.
He has added a direct approach to Fulham's play in his supporting role to Aleksandar Mitrovic and averages just under two shots per game.
Added to this, the Vitality has played host to some crackers in recent seasons and there could be goals in this one with both having unconvincing defences.
It is interesting to see both sides' starts to games. West Ham have scored six and conceded seven in the opening quarter of an hour this season, with an early goal coming in their last three home games.
Leicester, meanwhile, have one of the worst records in this period having conceded 12 and scored just three. One of those has been scored under Rodgers' management and his side have made stronger starts since his arrival from Celtic.
Nothing fancy, the bookies are calling this a close one and as such you get a decent return when taking a view either way and with two teams so closely matched you may as well play the value on the away win.
John Higgins, world champion in 1998, 2007, 2009 and 2011, has finished runner-up in Sheffield in each of the last two seasons. There is little doubt that the longer format of the World Championship suits his game perfectly, one that is built on a rock-solid temperament, heavy scoring and a wonderful tactical brain. When at his best, Higgins is the complete player.
While Higgins suffered an early exit at the recent China Open, he only made it to the second round in China last year before arriving in Sheffield fresh and with his game finely tuned from hours on the practice table.
Furthermore, the fact Higgins didn't enjoy a deep run in China was no bad thing given it effectively preserved his place in the top half of the draw for Sheffield. Given the way the cards have fallen it could be that what appeared to be a setback may in fact facilitate his best performance of the season when he needs it most.