The normally quiet month of January started in electric fashion at Shelbourne Park last weekend, with both meetings producing some outstanding performances.
The standard in the first round of the Tyrur McGuigan Open 575 was top-drawer and we are in for three more great Saturdays in this competition.
The Joe Dunne Memorial Puppy Stake begins on Saturday week and we can expect to see some of our top pups in action.
Added to all this is the news that prize-money at Shelbourne for the higher grades of racing will receive a substantial boost thanks to a new deal with SIS which will see Shelbourne racing beamed to various international venues.
Under the new proposals, the Saturday night schedule will be reduced from 12 to 11 races.
This seems to be a crazy decision when you consider that the big punters hit Shelbourne on Saturdays.
Why reduce the number of races when the captive audience is present?
Surely, if there has to be a cut in the number of races weekly, the most appropriate move would be to stage 10 races on Wednesdays and Thursdays and then 12 on Saturdays, mostly valuable Opens over all distances?
To assist trainers travelling long distances, they could bring forward the starting time to 7.30 or 7.45.
Returning to the Tyrur McGuigan 575, Broadstrand Lad has been cut to 9/2 favourite by Paddy Power, with Tibetan Skies and Royal Patrol on the 6/1 mark and Martinstown Snow at 7/1.
Tibetan Skies and Martinstown Snow will clash in the third heat of the second round, which will also feature Croom Star -- which will be another fancied runner. Broadstrand will be a strong fancy for Heat 2, where Lemon Velvet could be the main threat, while Royal Patrol will be a strong fancy to win the fourth and final heat.
Meanwhile, the Festival Open Unraced Stake reaches the quarter-final stage at Clonmel next Sunday.
Declan Moloney will hold a strong hand with the litter brothers Pagani, Delonte and Nastasi.
Trap draw in factfile