Something For the Weekend. Best Bets for the Racing and Football Action

england vs slovakia free bets

With the sparring of the Group stages now complete, this weekend sees Euro 2024 move into the knockout stages, with eight mouth-watering clashes set to begin on Saturday as the Last 16 kicks into gear. The football may provide the main course, but the horse racing offers a satisfying side dish. Saturday sees Newcastle's biggest race, with the 2024 edition of the Northumberland Plate, followed by the Group 1 Irish Derby at the Curragh on Sunday afternoon.

Here, using data presented by, we pick out our best bets for what promises to be another enthralling weekend.

Saturday: Northumberland Plate Handicap – Newcastle 3:10

The race known as the Pitmen’s Derby takes centre stage on a cracking card at Newcastle. Held over the marathon trip of 2m½f and offering £150,000 in total prize money, the Northumberland Plate is amongst the most coveted staying handicaps of the season and invariably attracts a maximum field of 20.

Irish raider Alphonse Le Grande has been the one for money in the week leading up to the race, and it's easy to see why punters have latched onto the claims of this son of Sea The Stars. Successful three times on the all-weather and a winner over 2m2½f at Chester last time, he boasts strong claims. However, he is currently number 31 on the list and needs a few to come out.

Alphonse Le Grande is one to consider on the day, but the best bet at this stage is an each-way punt on Kevin Ryan’s Forza Orta. Three starts this season have yielded little, but two of those came on unsuitably soft ground, and he ran a decent race to go down by under five lengths in a 2m2½f event at Chester. The suspicion is that this is his big target, and on his 2023 win in the Stayers Handicap at York, he boasts strong claims. Forced inside by a rival, checked in the run, and switching around runners inside the final furlong, he did remarkably well to get up and score by a neck. That came off a mark of 86, and he’s only 1lb higher here.

  • Recommended Bet - Forza Orta each way @ 25/1 with BetMGM

Saturday: Switzerland vs Italy – 5pm

The Last 16 action kicks off in Berlin as Switzerland take on Italy at the Olympiastadion. It was a mixed bag from these sides in the Group Stage. Switzerland impressed in wins over Hungary and a draw with Germany but failed to fire in their draw with Scotland. Italy started with a solid win over Albania but were second best to Spain and Croatia.

Last 16 encounters can be cagey affairs, and it would be no surprise to see this one follow suit. As such, the value may lie in determining where a goal is most likely to come from. Switzerland’s three centre-back system has performed well overall, but they have looked vulnerable down their left-hand side. As such, the man to side with is Italy’s right-sided forward, Federico Chiesa. Whilst not as electric as in previous tournaments, the Juventus man has shown flashes of his best and changed the game when coming on against Croatia. Expect him to start here, and at 4/1, he looks solid value to score at any time.

  • Recommended Bet - Federico Chiesa Anytime Goalscorer @ 4/1 with LiveScoreBet

Saturday: Germany vs Denmark – 8pm

So far, so good for the hosts, who topped their section – albeit needing a late leveller against Switzerland to do so. It could also be argued that their performances have dipped with each game. A class apart against Scotland, Hungary caused them more problems than expected whilst they were within a whisker of defeat against the Swiss. However, that is still better than the form shown by Denmark, who have reached the Last 16 on the back of three dull draws with Slovenia, England, and Serbia.

Denmark may have been uninspiring from an attacking standpoint, but have been good at the back - doing notably well in starving the opposition of possession in the final third. It may take guile to find the breakthrough here. Step forward Ilkay Gündogan. There are few better at finding pockets of space when faced with a congested back line, and Denmark will be doing well to keep track of his well-timed runs for ninety minutes. Averaging over two shots per game in the tournament, take the Barcelona man to get on the scoresheet.

  • Recommended Bet - Ilkay Gündogan Anytime Goalscorer @ 18/5 with BetMGM

Sunday: Irish Derby – Curragh 4.05pm

The betting makes Sunday’s Irish Classic a two-horse race between Epsom Derby 2nd and 3rd Ambiente Friendly and Los Angeles. That duo clearly boast the strongest form, with the manner in which Ambiente Friendly travelled around Epsom before seeing off all bar City Of Troy, making him a deserving favourite. However, better can be expected of Los Angeles, who didn’t help his chances when becoming worked up in the preliminaries.

We find it tough to choose between the top two in the market and, with the duo priced at around 11/10 and 13/8, prefer an each-way punt. Roger Varian’s Matsuri is interesting, but at a double-figure price, the one to get the vote is Grosvenor Square. Looking a horse to follow in landing two of three starts last season, he disappointed on his comeback in the Chester Vase, but wouldn’t be the first O’Brien runner to improve markedly for his seasonal return. By Galileo, and a half-brother to Santiago, who won the 2020 edition of this, he is built for the challenge on pedigree and may shake up the principles.

  • Recommended Bet - Grosvenor Square each way @ 14/1 with BetGoodwin

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