Saturday's Clarence House Chase is all about the return of Sprinter Sacre and whether he can show us that the physical problems that have kept him off the track for over a year are behind him.
There can't be a racing fan in the land who doesn't want to see Nicky Henderson's star chaser return to the sort of imperious form that saw him win his first ten starts over fences, including an Arkle, Champion Chase, Melling Chase and this race in 2013, when it was run at Cheltenham. In that period he established himself as one of the all-time equine greats of the sport and that's what made his pulled up effort in Kempton's Desert Orchid Chase of December 2013, when suffering with a heart problem, all the more galling.
At least now he's back and raring to go, if the promise he showed in a recent racecourse gallop can be believed. His regular partner Barry Geraghty described him as the "the old Sprinter Sacre" and his trainer Nicky Henderson, who has issued plenty of positive bulletins since that gallop, would not be running him on Saturday unless he was sure the nine-year-old could do himself justice. The worry is that many a good horse has not returned to their best after a career break, and it is not for nothing the phrase "they never come back" is frequently used in this context.
The truth is we won't know until the race itself and even then we may have to wait until Cheltenham in March until we can say with any real certainty that the "The Black Aeroplane" has retained all his ability. For that reason, he can't be seriously considered at the even money on offer for Saturday's contest, and especially as he faces such a dangerous opponent in Dodging Bullets, who comes into the race on the back of a scintillating Grade 1 win, showing the benefit of his comeback run at Cheltenham (which he also won) and the refitting of a tongue strap. Paul Nicholls' seven-year-old certainly has what it takes to expose any chinks in the armour of the favourite.
But that doesn't mean I'm going to put him up as a bet here at 5/2, having been favourite earlier in the week; tempting though it is. For one, there are better opportunities to take some cash off the bookmakers on a busy Saturday and I'm sure I won't be alone in hoping those words "they never come back" prove wholly inaccurate in this instance.
Latest bet365 betting: Evens Sprinter Sacre, 5/2 Dodging Bullets, 5/1 Twinlight, 6/1 Somersby, 50/1 Grey Gold. Each-way 1/4 odds, 1.2.
Remember, if you can't get in front of a TV on Saturday, you can always watch a live stream of the above race (or any race for that matter) at bet365, with a bet of just £0.50 (£0.25 each-way) required to watch.