leopardstown 9th Feb
Something has to give as Flemenstar and Sir Des Champs lock horns once more in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown.
Peter Casey's Flemenstar put his rival firmly in his place in the John Durkan but, after looking the likely winner at the last when upped to three miles for the Lexus, his stamina gave way and he was passed by Tidal Bay and First Lieutenant close home.
He is given another chance to book his Gold Cup ticket, but Sir Des Champs finished a lot closer to him in the Lexus than he did at Punchestown, despite a string of errors, although he will need to iron out those jumping frailties if he is to go to Cheltenham as a legitimate contender.
With the Six Nations on Sunday, this flagship meeting of the National Hunt season has been brought forward 24 hours and the Hennessy is just one of four Grade Ones on a mouthwatering card.
The action gets under way with the Spring Juvenile Hurdle at 1.15 and Willie Mullins has decided to pitch his Triumph Hurdle fancies Blood Cotil and Diakali in against each other.
Throw in Dessie Hughes's Our Conor, plus British raider Ruacana, and a serious pointer should be provided for the juvenile championship next month.
Champagne Fever blotted his copybook in the Slaney Novice Hurdle at Naas, but he and Minsk took each other on in front and both rate better than the form suggests as they prepare to renew rivalry in the Deloitte Novice Hurdle.
Connections weren't that impressed with Boston Bob's chasing debut success at Navan and he hasn't been seen since, but he gets the opportunity to book his RSA Chase ticket in the Dr PJ Moriarty Novice Chase.
Tennis Cap spearheads a Willie Mullins trio in the paddypower.com iPhone Fast Bet Handicap Hurdle, while Salsify warms up for the defence of his Foxhunter crown in the Raymond Smith Memorial Hunters Chase.
Irish riders, Jack Doyle, Ruby Walsh and Timmy Murphy are on three of the best backed horses cross-channel this afternoon, with the former partnering Moleskin in the 4.00 at Kempton.