punchestown 9th Dec
Flemenstar and Sir Des Champs go head-to-head in a mouthwatering renewal of the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase at the County Kildare track.
The former is chasing his seventh straight victory, including two Grade One wins, and Peter Casey's seven-year-old is likely to be sent off favourite on the back of a taking reappearance at Navan last month.
However, his Willie Mullins-trained opponent brings an unbeaten NH record to the table and is currently second favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup following a facile Grade One victory at this venue when last seen in April.
Rubi Light won this Grade One event 12 months ago and Bog Warrior has also tasted victory at the top table, so this eagerly awaited contest may not be just about the two at the head of the betting.
Chief support to the main event is the INH Stallion Owners EBF Novice Hurdle and Waaheb will be expected to maintain his 100 per cent record over hurdles in the Listed prize.
A leading bumper performer two seasons ago, the five-year-old was returning from a 17-month lay-off when recording a comfortable hurdling debut victory at Fairyhouse in October and there should be plenty more to come.
Balnaslow is two from two under Rules following a maiden hurdle victory over this course and distance and, along with the improving Shrapnel, should make sure Dermot Weld's inmate needs to be at the top of his game.
In Great Form lived up to his name last winter and the Flemensfirth gelding makes his seasonal bow in the Weatherbys Ireland GSB Handicap Chase, but the opposing Caduceus and Glenquest have the benefit of recent match practice.
The 2013 Annual Membership Maiden Hurdle kicks things off at 12.30 and Pride Ofthe Parish can build on an encouraging jumping debut over this track and trip, while the closing 3 For 2 Festival Ticket Offer On punchestown.com (Pro/Am) Flat Race looks a good opportunity for Redundant Man to open his account.
Un Atout wasn't stretched as he made a winning debut over timber in the opening Kells Maiden Hurdle at Navan.