Duo set to dazzle in Durkan

Sat 8th Dec 2012, 17:34

photoSir Des Champs makes his return
©Healy Racing Photos
Flemenstar and Sir Des Champs are set to grab the limelight on Sunday as they face a showdown in the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase.

The former, who is trained by Peter Casey, will be chasing a seventh consecutive victory, with two Grade One victories bagged last term.

Casey reports everything to have gone smoothly with Flemenstar since his easy victory first time out this season.

"The nerves are fine, I'm not worried," said the County Meath handler.

"His jumping is his greatest asset, I think. He takes lengths out of the others at every fence, even in bad ground. We wouldn't want it sticky on Sunday, that's the only thing.

"It wouldn't hurt if it rained just before racing, just to loosen the ground up. Everything has been grand with him but he's meeting a better class of horse on Sunday, they are all Grade One winners. If he was in a handicap he'd be giving them weight, though.

"We see the Durkan as a stepping stone to going three miles with him so we'll know an awful lot more after this - it will tell us where we go.

"Everyone I meet say he is a joy to watch with his jumping and I hope they are still saying that after this."

Andrew Lynch admits Flemenstar's aims later in the season will become clearer after tomorrow's contest.

Lynch has struck up a great partnership with Peter Casey's wonderful seven-year-old but Lynch is taking nothing for granted.

"There's only four in it, but it's a competitive race," Lynch told At The Races.

"He won well over two and a half (miles) last year at Fairyhouse, albeit in different ground, so it's a stepping stone to three miles and we'll see how he gets on on Sunday.

"Touch wood he jumps and he travels, and all being well he'll step up to three miles at Christmas.

"Sir Des Champs is a very good horse, he's unbeaten so it will be competitive but hopefully my lad might do the business - we'll know an awful lot more on Sunday."

Rubi Light won last year's race for Robbie Hennessy with Lynch on his back but Barry Geraghty takes over this time.

While Hennessy acknowledges it is not ideal making his seasonal return in such a hot race, his options were limited.

"We had no option but to start him off here really," said Hennessy.

"He got a knock early on, otherwise he would have gone to Gowran but it just set him back a bit.

"He won this last year and is two out of two at the track.

"It's a hot race but with a horse like him there are no easy options.

"Two and a half miles in soft ground seems his optimum, he ticks all the boxes.

"Barry Geraghty has won on him and knows him well. The others are stepping out of novices and if they slip up we'll be there to take advantage.

"He's as fit as we can get him at home, he's had a couple of schooling races so we'll see how we get on."

The Willie Mullins-trained Sir Des Champs is a leading fancy for the Cheltenham Gold Cup but will be having his first start since his Grade One win at Punchestown in April.

Davy Russell is the lucky man who gets to ride all of the Gigginstown horses and the jewel in their crown is Sir Des Champs, who is unbeaten since joining Mullins.

"I'm really looking forward to it, I have been all summer," said Russell.

"It's a tough place to start, but it was always going to be wherever he went because he's a Grade One horse. I suppose it will depend on who handles the conditions best.

"This looks the right race to start him off in if we are maybe thinking of stepping up in trip at some stage."

Bog Warrior provides a second string for Gigginstown House Stud, the owners of Sir Des Champs.

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