Flemenstar flawless in Fortria
Flemenstar jumps the last under Andrew Lynch
(Healy Racing Photos)
The Peter Casey trained 7yo son of Flemensfirth had an excellent season last year in Novice company, which saw him win two Grade 1 contests.
The 10/11 favourite was eased near the line as he came home a comfortable seven length winner.
The 11yo Big Zeb, who was bidding to win the race for the fourth year in succession, ran well to finish second under Robbie Power for Colm Murphy at 9/2 while Foildubh was a further length and a half back in third under Davy Condon for John Ryan at 7/1.
Peter Casey said afterwards: "When he is fit he’ll be a good one! He will go for the John Durkan now at Punchestown.
"He has got stronger since last year but he was only 80% fit today. He got beat here the last two years but I slept well last night, I wasn’t worried about him.
"Andrew knows him well. There is no use in telling him what to do.
"After he goes over two and a half in the Durkan we will think about running him over three miles. He should get three miles on breeding."
Paddy Powers, Sean Graham’s and Boylesports have all cut the winner from 10/1 to 8/1 for the Gold Cup at Cheltenham in March while Stan James have pushed him out to 10/1 from 8/1.
They have however made him the 5/1 favourite (from 7/1) for the Ryanair Chase at the Festival.
(Additional reporting by Michael Graham)