The first big competition of the year got underway last Sunday afternoon at Towcester, as 48 hopefuls lined up in the qualifying trial stakes of the £10,000 Stadium Bookmakers Blue Riband over 500m.
Five of the heats were won by favourites with former track record holder and Greyhound Derby semi-finalist Lautaro quickest of the winners in 29.09sec.
On Sunday afternoon, there are four more qualifiers to be broadcast live on Racing Post Greyhound TV from Towcester and tipster Dave Clark has supplied eye-catching suggestions for all of those races.
Belgian handler Patrick Janssens holds a strong hand in this event and his 2022 Midlands Puppy Derby champion Deelish Frankie, who is 5/1 to win the Blue Riband itself at the end of the month, is my selection in the opening qualifier at 2.12pm.
Derby runner-up Mr Chelm (formerly known as Kildare) returned to winning ways last week after a couple of disappointing defeats and rates a big danger in trap three, but Deelish Frankie has the benefit of the inside line from trap two and that could prove crucial.
The two rivals met in a trial stake on New Year's Day and Deelish Frankie emerged victorious. I'm expecting the same result here.
The Dave Mullins-trained Arkady survived a treacherous draw at Towcester last week when stranded out in trap five of a red-hot heat, but he battled hard in that race and I expect him to bounce back with a win in this more favourable contest.
He switches inside a box to trap four and the calibre of opposition is weaker this week barring heat winner Romeo Top Cat in trap two.
Kent Derby champion Arkady possesses smart all-round speed and is taken to fly from the boxes and make all the running.
Sharon Thompson's Master Ten Ten deserves a mention after running a huge race in defeat last week and is a must-bet for forecast and tricast punters, but I can't see past Arkady as the overall race winner.
Champion trainer Mark Wallis won this event in 2022 with Ivy Hill Skyhigh and his contender this year, Hopes Paddington, will turn up on Sunday chasing a four-timer and in great form.
The East Anglian Derby champion at Yarmouth rocketed from the boxes last week at Towcester to make all from trap three in 29.34sec off a lively 4.08sec sectional.
He will again don the white jacket down the middle on Sunday and can assert early dominance before kicking clear.
British bred star Signet Otis rates the main danger, but a switch to the inside may hinder his claims after a smart success from trap four last week and I'm expecting Hopes Paddington to prosper, while further enhancing his 5/1 claims for the Blue Riband.
Bet365 Empress Stakes heroine Fabulous Azurra suffered a shock defeat last week but is expected to score in the final heat at 4.08pm.
Patrick Janssens' star lady was successful at the Winter Festival at Shelbourne Park last month, but switching from different style traps proved her undoing last Sunday afternoon.
Now back in the groove, this multiple big-race champion can fly from the boxes and gain first run on kennelmate Lautaro.
Popular local Makeit For Waz also rates as a big danger if producing her best from the inside box, but is is difficult to look beyond Fabulous Azurra, who is 15/2 to follow this up with a win in the Blue Riband.