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Good reasons to look forward to the weekend

WITH nights drawing in and the airwaves full of economic doom and gloom, there's a lot of negativity out there at the moment.

But punters have every opportunity to take their minds off their worries with a cracking weekend of racing in store.

Here are just five reasons it's going to be a great weekend for race fans...

1Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot tomorrow at 4.15

Eight runners go to post but the field is depleted of some of its quality with Canford Cliffs now absent. What a clash it would have been to see him take on Makfi and Rip Van Winkle. Those two are still there, though, and that dual should not be missed either, while Godolphin will be hoping to slip in under the radar and show that Poet's Voice is not just in to make up the numbers.

2 Frankel Runs in the Group Two Royal Lodge Stakes at Ascot at 2.30 tomorrow

Has only raced twice to date but put a blinding twinkle back in the eye of his legendary trainer, Henry Cecil, last time at Doncaster. Cecil has had many greats but possibly not a juvenile of this calibre for quite some time. He's been through a lot in recent years but never lost the knack of how to train a good one, and this one could be very good. Current favourite for the 2000 Guineas and certainly likely to stay there.

3 The Beresford Stakes at 4.25 on Sunday at the Curragh

Pathfork is undoubtedly the best two-year-old colt we have seen on this side of the pond this season and those who have him backed for Classic glory in 2011 will be watching carefully to see if his form is franked at the Curragh on Sunday. A number of the runners have form tying in with Jessica Harrington's colt and if Casamento could win, it would prove a huge boost to Pathfork's Group One win and his Classic credentials for next year -- let alone Casamento's, as he too would appear above average.

4 Navan's first jump meeting of the new season tomorrow afternoon

Listowel is the unofficial start of the 'real' jump season and Navan's first card could also throw up a few threats. Look no further than the first race where Mouse Morris is set to saddle First Lieutenant, a point-to-point and bumper winner, the dogs on the street have spoken a lot about this Gigginstown Stud-owned son of Presenting. Indeed, Morris also has Venalmar, a former classy novice hurdler who could yet be special over hurdles, while punters should keep an eye on trainer Colin Bowe. A leading man in the point-to-point sphere, he holds a couple of notable entries for Navan and could have a prosperous day following a winner already this week on the track at Downpatrick.

5 The return of the point-to-point season

The grassroots of the jump racing game probably do not get enough coverage as it should in daily papers but the 2010-2011 season gets under way this weekend with two fixtures scheduled to take place. Tomorrow, racing between the flags takes place at Toomebridge in Antrim and on Sunday it's on to Rathcannon in Limerick. Of course Denman was one of the most famous recruits from a point-to-point field, while last year's Gold Cup winner, Imperial Commander, was a winner at Summerhill in 2005.