Even Ali got beaten so take 'Machine' to hit back
Christmas defeat remains a mystery but Faugheen still looks a champion
There is smoke in the air but is Rome really burning? This weekend will tell. We find ourselves €606,820 behind Gordon Elliott's hordes compared to only €238,812 at this point of the last campaign.
If we are to quench the flames, we will need to deliver a Blitzkrieg of results at this new fabulosity, to borrow a word from Stephen King, of a Festival. If we don't, then Gordon will be well and truly over the Rubicon.
The two-mile chase promises fireworks, especially with the Champion Chase winner Special Tiara setting the fractions. Yorkhill goes on a retrieval mission.
His three-mile experiment blew up like a mad professor's laboratory.
Willie has decided it was not a hill he was prepared to die on. He drops him significantly in trip in a bid to be able to harness his ability easier off the stronger pace provided by the shorter distance.
Riding Yorkhill can be like trying to steer a runaway jet ski with a wet sail at times but this should help.
His jumping early on at Christmas was spectacularly swift and it should be an asset here, whereas over three miles it was making him keen.
He has a high cruising speed and the lack of jumps in the latter part of the chase course at Leopardstown, coupled with the strong gallop guaranteed by Special Tiara, will make this more stamina-orientated than most two-mile chases. That should suit.
Min is another of our Galacticos chasing redemption. He did at least manage to pass the post in front at Christmas but even allowing for that his performance was underwhelming, rather like Real Madrid this season. He is better than that.
We will probably ride him slightly differently and hopefully he can be more economical with his jumping. He was using far too much energy and losing rhythm last time, which is a distinct possibility considering this is only his fifth chase start. It is a mouth-watering clash.
One for the each-way players is most definitely Patricks Park. I rode him over three miles the last day and he was too keen early and didn't stay.
We are dropping him drastically in trip and the better ground will help as will the return to fences, not to mention the change in jockey! Rachael Blackmore is unbelievably natural over a fence. Keep an eye.
In the Champion Hurdle, Melon provides the back-up in case lightning does manage to strike Faugheen twice.
His run at Cheltenham was very good but just short of top-class. Nevertheless, he is entitled to improve from that as he had the revs too high all the way so we have added a hood today to combat that.
If he can conserve more energy through the early part of the race it should allow him to finish more strongly.
We feel that we haven't seen the best of this leggy chestnut Lamborghini just yet and today will be a fascinating clash between young pretenders and old champions around the Leopardstown speedway.
Faugheen steps back into the ring after being knocked to the canvas last time. He was in super form before and has been in terrific form since.
Nothing showed up to explain the Christmas mystery, which is most strange. However, reports that the once great engine is rusted and beyond repair are highly exaggerated. Even Muhammad Ali got beaten in his heyday.
I believe that today a pink phoenix with green spots will rise from the ashes and we will once again see that 'The Machine' is back in full working order.
He has filled our eyes and hearts with wonder and awe before and he will again. He's back. Get ready to watch this.
Time to go all in and see what Samcro's got
Samcro hasn't been asked to show what cards are in his hand so far in his unbeaten career.
While this handsome beast has looked imposing, I agree with his owner that the frankly ridiculous hype is so far unjustified.
This is not to say it will be wrong but I have yet to see his Pegasus wings and Unicorn horn in cold hard form.
He has beaten just one of our horses, Good Thyne Tara, and she ran him to a neck in Navan so you will forgive me for asking to see more.
Everything so far could be a bluff. Maybe he does have a royal flush but we have some sharp players at the table tomorrow.
Sharjah felt just a bit special at Christmas. Let's see what you've got Sam'. We call. Cards on the table please.