Light the fuse and stand well back, if you like your sports then the opening weekend of October looks pretty succulent.
A must win game for England against Australia in the Rugby World Cup, a Merseyside derby that you can imagine Liverpool boss Brendan Rogers must be dreading in the Premiership football, plus league leaders Manchester United paying a visit to Arsenal.
Those may well be the pick of sports that involve a ball of some variety, but if you prefer action of the four-legged persuasion then this is also a special couple of days, serving up the best day’s Flat racing anywhere in Europe courtesy of Sunday Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe card at Paris track Longchamp, plus some ultra competitive fayre in the UK.
So, the question is what to back on a busy weekend if you’re in the mood for a wager?
Starting with Saturday, I expect Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace to be too hot for West Bromwich Albion to handle in the televised early kick-off, and anyone tuning into the game from Selhurst Park might do well to grab a bit of the 20/23 available with either BetVictor or Coral.
The ex-Newcastle boss has turned the Eagles into a very tough side to beat, and with a variety of options going forward they ought to have too much firepower as they look to add to Sunday’s hard fought 1-0 win away to Watford.
Switching to racing, I’m really looking forward to seeing Andre Fabre’s Fractional, the winner of the 2014 Group 2 Prix Dollar, defend his crown at Longchamp (3.15pm).
Now a six-year-old, he was awarded the race following a stewards’ enquiry 12 months ago, having received a bump near the finish.
Better ground is key to this horse, as he demonstrated when scoring in the Group 3 Prix Messidor at Maisons-Laffitte in July.
Put a line through his last run on horrible ground at Deauville, and instead focus on the fact we can get 8/1 each way about a horse who has won nine of his 14 starts, and is prepared by a master.
Fred, Paddy or Victor will lay us the best price.
Around half an hour later Ascot’s big handicap, the £180,000 Totescoop6 Challenge Cup Handicap, can go the way of a horse I’ve tipped here a few times previously, Peter Chapple-Hyam’s Buckstay.
The five-year-old ran a scorcher when trying to thread the eye of the needle from a hold up position in the Ayr Gold Cup last time out, running on to be fifth having looked dead and buried at halfway.
It’s no surprise to see him return to his usual seven furlongs on this occasion, with Jamie Spencer taking over from Fran Berry in the saddle.
His last five runs have been excellent, plus the handicapper left him untouched despite a mighty effort at Ayr.
Two weeks on, compensation may wait and we can back him each way at 6’s with any of BetVictor, Boylesports or Ladbrokes.
Sandwiched inbetween those two cracking races is the small matter of a Group 1 at Newmarket, namely the Kingdom Of Bahrain Sun Chariot Stakes (3.30pm) for fillies and mares.
Worth a quarter of a million, the race has attracted a field of nine including three from France and one from Ireland.
I’d love a price for any of the French-trained runners capturing the prize, as they did in 2009, ’10, ’11 and ’12, given that the visitors are responsible not only for the hot favourite Esoterique, but also for lively each way chance Bawina.
Trained in Chantilly by Carlos Laffon-Parias, the 113-rated four-year-old has accumulated a good deal of experience and run some fine races in defeat this season, but her turn may not be far away.
The Rowley Mile’s galloping track could really suit her, and Maxime Guyon’s mount looks tempting at the 7/1 generally available.
The standard of racing in Paris on Sunday is through the roof, serving up seven Group 1’s on the bounce.
The Arc itself is race four in that sequence, coming around at 2.55pm.
The hype and excitement about Treve’s bid to win it for the third year on the bounce is welcome and justified, and I’d love to see her deliver another knockout blow.
She was brilliant in the Vermeille three weeks ago, but at 11/10 or less it’s worth remembering that in recent seasons this wonderful race has given us winners at 33/1 and 20/1, and there is also a rich history of horses at huge prices creeping into the frame.
One to consider at massive odds each way is the Alain De Royer-Dupre inmate Dolniya, who has form at the very highest level, and is a crazy price given her proven quality at 40/1.
Females have won this four years on the bounce, and she’s trained by the man who prepared Zarkava to win this prize back in 2008.
There’ve been reports earlier in the week of each way cash for Andre Fabre’s Flintshire, but if you like him at 20/1 surely you have to give a shout to Dolniya at literally double those odds?
She beat him handily in Dubai in the spring, not one but twice, the second time when landing the Group 1 Sheema Classic on World Cup night.
Furthermore, Dolniya was fifth in the Arc a year ago and will love the better ground.
She has work to do to topple Treve, but could very well find her way into the places.
This weekend’s best bets: