With the start of the Irish Derby just five and a half weeks away, the search is on for a potential champion and the contenders for the Champion 550 will come under microscopic examination at Shelbourne Park tonight.
Prime among these will be Droopys Nidge, which is the clear ante-post favourite for the Derby despite the fact he has had only three races in his career and is returning from an injury-influenced three-week break.
Having clocked 28.09 and 28.00 in his first races, he finished last and lame in the final of the Champion Puppy. He is now fully recovered from that slight injury but trainer Robert Gleeson reports that the dog is short of work.
He added: "I gave him a gallop on Wednesday and he came out of it fine. He is in good form but does need a trial. We are just hoping that he comes away like he can and finishes in the first three."
Droopys Nidge (9.10) goes in the third of the five heats and he has a few serious early-paced rivals. However, I expect him to lead home Native Hut and Con Te Partiro.
The 'Newstalk' team will be out in force in support of their new acquisition Razldazl Newstalk and the irony is that he is opposed in Heat 4 by the dog which led him home in Kilkenny's Red Mills Champion Unraced Stake, Jaytee Valencia.
This should be a great race with the likes of Fair Taxes and Green Prince sure to test their mettle.
From a betting viewpoint, I would prefer to go with sponsor PJ Fahy's Tyrur Supermac (8.40) in Heat 1 now he has had a change of seeding.
Fahy also has prospects with his Champion Puppy winner Tyrur Nathan (9.55) in Heat 5.
The supporting card boasts some tremendous racing and the Boylesports.com Derby Trial Stake should be a cracker.
With a number of inside seeds drawn towards the outside, Fiery Splendour looks magnificently drawn but I still fancy the chances of Jerry Melia's Greenwell Hulk (10.10).
The final of the Open 550 will be the highlight of a gala sponsored programme at Limerick and it affords the James Roche-trained Ballyana Foxtrot (10.16) the ideal opportunity to avenge his semi-final defeat by Fraser Black's Tarbrook Taetoe.
Taetoe flew the lids last week but that is not always his modus operandi and it would be no surprise if the Foxtrot cut out the running this time. In such an eventuality, he would surely land this €4,100 prize.
There is a major benefit meeting at Lifford tomorrow evening for the We Are Macmillan and Marie Curie cancer charities and there promises to be some terrific racing.
Craig Dawson's UK challenger Farloe Nutter (6.48) and Aidan McVeigh's Crown Champ (7.36) look bankers while the meeting of Skywalker Farloe and Mind The Net could be a real epic.