It seems quite a while now since the semi-finals of the Tote Gold Cup, the Ted Hegarty Marathon and the Greyhound & Petworld Kingdom Derby were run before Christmas, but they will have lost none of their appeal and should be the ideal launch pads for the 2011 seasons at both Harold's Cross and Tralee on Friday night.
The Hegarty Marathon over 1,010 yards holds a particular attraction for the racegoers and there is a splendid line-up in pursuit of the €9,000 prize.
It will be a pretty open betting affair, but favouritism will be battled out between Sean Devlin's Seven Hills Lady and Derek Kehoe's Slaneyside Havoc.
The Liam O'Rourke-trained Ballymac Tipp is the one to beat in the final of the Tote Gold Collar, but he must make one of his flying starts to enable him to clear the opening bend from Rathglass Hero and Gold Ruby.
Any trouble up front and the big-finishing pair of Razldazlbroadway and Wise Signal will be devouring the ground in the straight.
There will be a splendid 12-race card at Tralee, which is comprised of 11 finals and an interesting novice hurdle. The big one, of course, will be the Greyhound & Petworld Kingdom Derby and here the vote goes to Graham Holland's early-paced bitch Calling Spice.
Last night's meeting at Longford was called off due to frost and it is hoped to run the same card on Friday evening. However, all is in readiness for the first meeting of the year at Harold's Cross this evening, while Shelbourne will resume on Thursday night.
Most tracks will be dropping a night per week for the month of January. Kilkenny will be racing just four nights in January. The first will be tomorrow night and then on Fridays, January 14, 21 and 28. Trials have resumed at the normal times.
The word from Thurles is that John Ryan has been appointed sales and marketing manager and the track will be racing just one night per week for January, with a decision to be made later regarding February.