Timeline to claim Majestic seventh triumph for Joyce
Much of Dundalk's unmitigated success has been its utilitarian appeal for modest operations, the traditional powerhouses and absolutely everything else in between.
Since 2007, it has provided low-key trainers with a viable facility and regular foundation from which to build a sustainable business model with ordinary horses, while at the same time its superb all-weather surface ensures that it is also a destination of choice for a leviathan like Ballydoyle.
The consistency that has evolved in the winter programme has helped all variety of handlers to plan strategically, though the 2014 integrity statistics that were released by the Turf Club yesterday reinforce Horse Racing Ireland's recent proof that it is a profession still fraught with difficulty.
While the regulator's chief executive Denis Egan noted that "there have always been ups and downs in the past 20 years", a 17.7pc fall in the number of licences issued since 2008 has coincided with plummeting ownership and horses-in-training figures that Egan describes as having not been witnessed since the mid-1990s.
In 2014, the number of full licences issued fell 1.3pc on 2013, with restricted licences down 9.5pc, which serves to underline how small-scale handlers are fast becoming an endangered species.
Tonight at Dundalk, the full spectrum is on display, with Aidan O'Brien sending out two live players in Bishan Bedi and Song Of Love among a three-strong delegation from his elite Rosegreen establishment in the Golden Vale.
His one outsider is the first-time blinkered The Islander in the opener, in which O'Brien faces opposition from shrewd dual-purpose rookies Johnny Levins, Johnny Feane and Adrian Joyce, as well Tracey Collins, the versatile Curragh handler.
Athlone-based Joyce holds a restricted licence, so he can have only four horses in training at a time. Over the past two years, he has done brilliantly with the mare Majestic Timeline, and she is tipped to win for a seventh time for him in this five-furlong handicap.
The six-runner affair is competitive, but the Chris Hayes-ridden recent winner appeals most over this distance.
Having found the sprint trip too short last time, Song Of Love will take plenty stopping back over a mile in the maiden under Ana O'Brien, whose brother Donnacha can collect on Bishan Bedi. A week ago, Bishan Bedi didn't get a clear passage when fourth, but he still looks favourably treated, so he is napped in the mile handicap.
Also fancied is Moss Nation for Co Cork handler Danny O'Sullivan in the apprentices' race. This Moss Vale filly ran well in three outings here last month, and she has the assistance of the extremely able Tom Madden here.