Much water has already passed under the bridge on the tracks since the turn of the year, but for many today represents the real start of the season, with the first major Open competition of the year, the SIS Live Gold Cup, commencing at Shelbourne Park.
The stars are emerging from their winter quarters, though a few more will have their returns delayed by another month until the College Causeway Easter Cup over the 550 yards distance.
The decision to revert to the 525 trip with Gold Cup competition is a good one and allows our shorter running classic aspirants an easy introduction to their second or third seasons.
Looking at the overall picture, the three we will take against the field in this €20,000 to the winner competition are Frances O'Donnell's Ardfert Thunder, Aidan Denton's Kereight King and Paul Hennessy's Priceless Sky. Unfortunately, the latter named pair clash in heat three, where fast starting Ashfield Impact could make it difficult for them.
Ardfert Thunder is rated in the very same league as his Derby hero Skywalker Puma by shrewd veteran Matt O'Donnell and it would be difficult to disagree when one remembers how he performed in the Night of Stars victory in December.
Suggested betting propositions at Shelbourne are BRUNSWICK PEG (7.50), CABRA MILLIE (9.15) and HOT PURSUIT (9.45).
The final of the Feramo D Open 525 will be contested at Limerick and John O'Flynn Jnr can experience a return to the big time with DEAR PA, a lovely early paced tracker that was destined for the very top in 2012 but for injury problems which largely kept him off the track. He can clear the bend and go on to win from Raggletaggle Rio and Carrowgarriff.
A banker for our weekend Yankee would be RINGTOWN SNOWY (9.55) in an A1 575 final in Limerick. He did us a turn last week and looks equally good here.
Ken Duce's NICKEN BUILDER has been impressive in the Guinness Trophy at Curraheen Park and he can take the final this evening at the expense of Ryecourt Fox.
Over at Crayford this morning the final of the Ladbrokes Golden Jacket will be run and here, Irish stayer WHITE SOKS ROKS can collect the £15,000 prize for the Dogfathers Syndicate.
There is a full catalogue of 80 lots for this morning's Sales at Thurles. Trials will commence at 9.0, with the auction set to commence at 11.0.
Number of the day
25,000The sum guaranteed in the Pick 6 Intertrack Jackpot this evening. Recommendations for the Shelbourne legs would be COOLYKEREEN IMP (10.0) and both HOMELESS BOY and GIZMO CLASSIC in the concluding leg (10.30).
White Soks Roks 12.39 Crayford
Cabra Millie 9.15 Shel Pk
Hot Pursuit 9.45 Shel Pk
Ringtown Snowy 9.55 Limerick