Panda and Dutch the Juvenile favourites
While the all-aged stars turned on the style with their stunning performances at Shelbourne last Saturday night, there have been signs aplenty that the younger crop of racers are well up to standard and the omens are good for the 2016 season.
The usual very large eve of Derby crowd thronged Harold's Cross on Friday to witness the full first round of the Dublin Coach Juvenile Derby. The standard of the racing was high-class with the big two performers being the ante-post favourites Barnfield Panda and Jaytee Dutch.
Barnfield was having his first look at the track when running it like a veteran and Pat Buckley's charge, in the future to be called Lenson Panda, really impressed as he stopped the clock in 28.46.
Saying that, Paul Hennessy's Jaytee Dutch also impressed greatly as he rode a bump at the first bend before hitting the front on the third bend and he came home four lengths clear of Black Alder in 28.54.
These were the stand-out performers but others that created a buzz included Michael O'Donovan's Skywalker Leaf, Moss O'Connor's Ballymac Ogie, John Kiely's Newlawn Simon and Robert Gleeson's Toolmaker Scot. At this early stage these would be my six against the field.
The second round will again have eight heats on Friday and the draw has kept the big guns apart. Barnfield Panda will have Skywalker Archie and Maglass Razzle as rivals in Heat 8 while Jaytee Dutch has again drawn trap six in Heat 5 and his main rivals are probably Briar Hill and Lenson Santi.
Speaking of pups, we saw a couple of exceptional young prospects in the Owen McKenna-trained litter brothers Farloe Joey and Farloe Cody at Shelbourne on Wednesday night when they clocked 28.56 and 28.32 respectively.
They are both owned by Paul Ellis, who owned the Derby second and third, and McKenna reports that they will head for the Comerford Cakes Puppy Stake at Shelbourne.
Don't be surprised if one or both become members of the McKenna team for Wimbledon 2016!
Two major competitions commencing on Saturday are the Billy Mulvaney Memorial 600 at Shelbourne and the Paddy Power Fair Warrior Sprint at Mullingar.
Big race of the week will be the final of the Langton House Hotel/TSC Derby at Kilkenny on Friday. Fastest semi-final winner was Raheen Glory with a time of 29.06 and the Pat and Paul Cushen-owned tracker will need to make a slick start if he is to clear the field to the corner. Burgess Four would look the obvious danger. The Kilkenny card will also include the second round heats of the Gain A3/4.