Pearl the gem of Christmas Oaks card
Following a treat from all the stars last weekend at Shelbourne, the attention will now shift to the bitches at headquarters with the commencement of the Gain Christmas Oaks on Saturday night.
Up to lunchtime yesterday, there were 28 entries in the book which suggests that the required 36 will probably be achieved by the time the draw is made today at lunchtime.
Most of the big names available are in the draw with some of the established stars either in season or retired permanently to the breeding paddocks.
Following her latest stunning performance, Graham Holland's Rockburst Pearl would have to be regarded as the top bitch currently in training.
She was immense in winning the Stars Bitch 525 on Saturday and, on that form, must be the ante-post favourite for this competition.
She is joined in this competition by her kennel companions Brenval Star, Sidarian Lisa, Rockburst Beryl and Forrachmore, but others that could come very much into contention are Maddies Dream, Ketch Up Bell, Lughill Sandra, Zero Two, Mays Necklace, Southest Suzie, Jacks Top Gal, Highview Dasher, Graigues Trade and Gurrane Princess.
One I didn't mention among that number is Tyrur Rosaleen, but don't rule out the possibility of this bitch emerging as a new big star in this competition.
She has raced only twice but has shown terrific pace in both outings. She returned from a very lengthy injury lay-off last week and made up huge ground to finish second. She is going to explode some night shortly.
The first of four nights of racing at Shelbourne Park this week features an interesting card with a few that make appeal this evening.
The Graham Holland-trained Beara Hawk (9.15) overcame some first-bend trouble last week to be a fast-finishing third and now looks the type to have plenty of improvement in him if he can get out of traps that little bit snappier.
Larry Dunne has a fine prospect in Slippery Lorenz (9.45) after his runaway win last week and the youthful half-brother to Dunne's Derby winner Slippery Robert can take the step up in grade in his stride in a heat of the A3 Dual Distance.
The Aidan McVeigh-trained Fatty Arbuckle (9.30) was only caught in the final strides last week over 575 and the shorter trip in the first heat of the Dual Distance may be just the job for him.
Finally, one had to be impressed with the pace shown by PJ Fahy's debutant Tyrur Van Persie (10.0) on his belated racing debut last week. He looked a machine and is difficult to oppose in the concluding A2 despite his lack of racing experience.