Friday's Dundalk card has a touch of quality about it, with the 7f minor contest at 18:15 featuring Thunder Moon, who was a Group 1 winner as a juvenile and has done the majority of his racing at the top level since then.
His best effort last season came when just touched off by Laws Of Indices in the Prix Jean Prat at Deauville in July, before his form rather tailed off a little. It's interesting that Joseph O'Brien is bringing him back this early in the year, and if he comes through this test unscathed, I'm thinking a potential trip to Dubai in March may be in the offing.
Not that he'll have things all his own way here, however, with O'Brien also fielding San Andreas, who was a creditable third over this C&D last month, so conditions are unlikely to cause this one any problems.
Making up the trio to concentrate on is Pretreville, who was a smart performer in France but didn't get anywhere near that level in two starts lasts season for the Adrian McGuinness yard. He's not the easiest to assess on the back of that and a watching brief is advised where he's concerned.
I won't be getting involved with this race from a betting point of view, but it's always good to see the better quality flat horses starting to emerge, particularly as this gives us a reminder that warmer weather and decent flat racing isn't all that far away.
Drish Melody worth another chance
Our first bet of the evening will be in the 1m handicap at 17:45, where I'll be giving another chance to last week's losing selection Drish Melody.
It's quite hard to put a finger on exactly why this daughter of Galileo Gold failed to meet expectations there, though it's perhaps worth noting that she did sweat up a touch and was a little keen throughout the race.
I suspect a jockey change to the excellent Ben Coen will help in terms of getting this filly to relax a little bit more, and I believe she still has plenty to offer. Some people will be quick to point to the 7-lb rise she incurred for winning here in December as a possible reason for her being beaten last week, but I'm convinced she's capable of shouldering that and prefer to concentrate on the other factors mentioned.
Nicely bred newcomer looks one to watch
The 7f maiden at 18:45 is a fascinating contest, and while plenty of punters are not keen on betting in such races, my records tell me that I make the majority of my profit on lightly raced, unexposed horses, so I'm quite happy to head in this direction for my next bet.
The obvious starting point is Johnny Murtagh's Kadinnka, a daughter of Oasis Dream who is bred to be a useful type. She debuted here a fortnight ago when finishing third at a big price over C&D.
However, it's a couple of newcomers that interest me, with Short N Sweet favoured over Sistine Madonna. Both are nicely bred but it's Short N Sweet's pedigree for an artificial surface that really stands out for me.
By Exceed And Excel - who is a super all-weather sire - Short N Sweet's dam was unraced but is a half-sister to Breeders' Cup Classic winner Raven's Pass, who triumphed at Santa Anita on a similar surface to Dundalk's polytrack.
There's obviously a degree of risk involved when backing any first-time starter, though this race may not be the deepest contest for the time of year, and the selection hails from a stable that knows how to ready one.