What a Saturday we have in store with Champions Day at Ascot, the return of the Premier League, the Champions League of Darts, the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup, the start of the domestic Premiership rugby campaign and the conclusion of the CJ Cup.
The Sporting Life team have it all covered with their best bets for each event below. Then stay with us for the best coverage across the weekend here on sportinglife.com.
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Not right when fifth in the Irish 2000 Guineas but big player on his first start since then here on the form of his win in the Newmarket equivalent. Won't be lacking for fitness despite absence.
If you take Magical out of the Qipco Champion Stakes it doesn’t look a vintage renewal and there has to be doubts about her performing to her usual figure given she had such a tough race in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe less than two weeks ago. With that in mind it looks an open race and Addeybb is short enough given he’s flopped a couple of times at the top level while Coronet carries her head high and doesn’t look one to trust at relatively short odds.
John Gosden could still win this race for the third successive season, though, and with Frankel progeny as well as Mehdaayih has solid claims in this company if you can forgive her run in France last time out. I can, as she was too fresh and keen after a mini break, but on her form at Chester in soft ground in the Cheshire Oaks and at Goodwood in the Nassau Stakes she has a good chance in this contest.
If Rab Havlin can get her settled in a prominent position, she could take some pegging back in the straight and she rates a good each-way bet at generous odds.
Officially rated at least 6lb higher than his rivals, Saeed bin Suroor's globetrotter made a dramatic return to these shores when bolting up by five lengths from King Of Comedy in the Joel Stakes over this trip at Newmarket last month, by far his best performance in this country.
Hitherto, Benbatl had seemed better overseas and was a Group One winner at Caulfield in Australia a year ago before getting to within two lengths of the mighty Winx in the Cox Plate.
Those efforts along with an easy victory in the Dubai Turf at Meydan back in March set him apart here and he has shown in the past that he can handle at least good to soft going while his smart dam Nahrain was very able with cut in the ground.
Benbatl is a class act.
The Balmoral is always a difficult puzzle to solve but there’s an awful lot to like about Amedo Modigliani who remains thoroughly unexposed. Trained by Aidan O’Brien he makes his handicap debut here from a mark of 98 and there’s a chance he’s significantly better than that.
Things just haven’t fallen right for him in a three-race season to date, including when continually denied room when fourth in a Listed race at Cork last time. He finished full of running there and while he has his quirks, he wears a hood for a good reason, this big field, strong gallop scenario could really play to his strengths.
The deep ground holds no fears and on only his sixth career starts, the son of Galileo looks ready to finally show his true colours.
The best bet of Champions Day comes in the very first race with Hello Youmzain fancied to claim the Sprint. He was a very good two-year-old, didn’t stay the trip in the Greenham on his comeback but then went and slammed Calyx in the Group Three Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock back in May.
That marked him down as a sprinter with a serious future and he ran a massive race to be third after getting upset in the stalls ahead of the Commonwealth Cup at Ascot. Following a couple of months off and with soft ground to suit, he justified very strong market support to win the Betfair Sprint Cup last month. He was brilliant that day and looks capable of improving further – if that’s the case he’ll be desperately difficult to beat with the ground absolutely ideal once again this weekend.
Weekend Best Bets podcast
The Scottish midfielder netted a hat-trick for his country last week, albeit against San Marino, to take his tally for for club and country this season to seven. He has scored two in his last two Premier League appearances and averages three shots per game, more than any other Villa player.
With these stats in mind, McGinn is a man in form and enjoying life in the top flight and the 4/1 on him to find the back of the net looks generous.
Leicester have scored seven of their 10 home goals in the second half, while there have been a total of seven second-half goals in Burnley's four away games, so it plays in favour of the market here.
The Northern Ireland international has averaged around two shots per game this season, good-looking stats considering his role as a right-back for the large majority of it.
Even in a defensive role, Dallas has opportunities to strike. His goal against Stoke shows how he has the freedom to drive forward and get chances on goal.
It's a big price in a game where Leeds are expected to be on the front foot, and given the shorter prices available on other options, it's one which is worth taking
West Brom are backed to continue their fine start to the season as they travel to take on a struggling Middlesbrough side. In League One, Fleetwood boast one of the best home records in the division and they'll be looking to add to that as they welcome Burton.
Newport are yet to lose at home and welcome Scunthorpe, a team with the worst away record in England's fourth tier. Port Vale will also be aiming to capitalise on poor away form as they face Stevenage who are yet to win on the road. Only Cheltenham possess a better home record than Vale.
Sunday's Premier League preview
We're now back to normality for the hectic winter of televised majors, starting with the star-studded Champions League of Darts, live on the BBC this weekend.
The standard of all eight players, who are split into two groups, can make predictions look foolish but I've made my decision based on Michael Smith perhaps being underrated after a trophy-less season so far.
Bully Boy has reached four finals since being runner-up to MVG at the Ally Pally on New Year's Day, including the World Matchplay and the televised US Darts Masters while the other two - on the Pro Tour - he lost to James Wade.
He may not have been at his best in recent weeks but this is a great chance for all that to change and end his title drought that stretches back to the Shanghai Darts Masters in 2018.
Everyone knows he's got the talent and ability to handle the pressure on his way to finals - it's now just a case of him clearing the mind when it gets to that last match and reproducing what we've already seen. Easy for me to say!
I'm going for the St Helens man to qualify from his group and also a small bet on him to lift what would be viewed as his first major trophy.
Wright is clearly operating close - or better than on this week's record-breaking evidence (!) - to the standard we saw from him during that glorious 2017 in which he won 11 titles and his current seasonal tally of five (including the World Cup) is only going one way.
Wright endured a frustrating first half of 2019 but since leading Scotland to glory with Gary Anderson it's been a different story and on Tuesday he picked up his fourth individual crown just 24 hours after setting a new world record for an average in a broadcast match of 123.5.
I'm extremely tempted to go for him to lift the trophy but I'm going to give the nod to Gerwyn Price.
The fact he's preparing for his Champions League debut underlines what an upward curve the Welshman has been on over the past 12 months, backing up the Grand Slam of Darts triumph with four more PDC titles in 2019.
His most recent last month was a trademark frosty affair with Krzysztof Ratajski before holding his nerve in a deciding leg and although he bowed out in the opening round of the World Grand Prix, it was to eventual runner-up Dave Chisnall who played sparkling darts all week.
The CJ Cup is at the mercy of Justin Thomas entering the weekend and it will be a surprise if he doesn’t win the title for a second time.
Thomas is two clear of two infrequent winners who aren’t in his class, for all that both Danny Lee and Byeong Hun An were teenage stars thought capable of challenging for majors in time.
There is a better betting opportunity, though, and it concerns Ryan Palmer, who should be backed for a top-10 finish.
A closing 62 for third place here last year showed what Palmer can do at the course and from 18th on the leaderboard, he’s in a similar position to produce the sort of weekend charge he’s always been capable of.
There are 18 instances of Palmer being between 15th and 20th at halfway over the course of a lengthy PGA Tour career, and in 10 of them he’s gone on to finish inside the top 10. That’s a serious strike-rate and his record improves again if we strip out top-grade events like WGCs and the PLAYERS.
In a nutshell he’s a brilliant golfer when the pressure is off, the emphasis is on low-scoring, and there’s a gentle breeze – factors which are all in play this weekend.
He’d need to shoot a pair of 62s to win, but a top-10 finish is a very realistic ask at 7/2, with the more cautious advised to take 13/8 that he stays inside the top 20.
Wales are unbeaten in Japan and pride themselves on their 80-minute stamina, and that durability came to the fore when Australia pulled it back to 26-25, and again in the closing 10 minutes or so against both Fiji and Uruguay.
Contrast that to France, who often tear off in front, and struggle to hold on to the finishing post.
That was the case against Argentina and Tonga, where they only edged home by two points on both occasions after taking big leads in the first-half.
I can see a similar pattern developing here so, while I would just about favour Wales -6 on the handicap, I do like the look of the France-Wales HT-FT bet at the general 6/1.
The Sharks finished just a point off the top four last term, and that was after losing four of their opening five matches.
They've recruited excellently this summer, bringing in much needed depth, competition and steal. That includes international forwards Mark Wilson and lock Lood de Jager, while fellow Springbok additions Coenie Oosthuizen, Akker van der Merwe and the Du Preez have also arrived.
Historically they are hard to beat at home and if they improve their away form they have a big chance of making the top four play-off spots.
Denny Solomana finished joint-top try scorer last term with 12 and that's despite Sale's inconsistent attacking performances.
With the Sharks expected to be even stronger this time around, and Simon Hammersley a more creative influence at full back to work with, Solomona will be disappointed not to be near the top of the charts again.
Solomana, along with his sale teammate Chris Ashton, who is 8/1 to be the top try scorer, will not be involved in England duty. So a lot of their rivals for this title will lose a lot of Premiership game time due to the World Cup and the Six Nations. So if Solomona can make the most of this extra league game time he should be up there again.