Flem Is The Star In Durkan

Sun 9th Dec 2012, 14:30

Flemenstar impresses at Punchestown
©Healy Racing Photos
By Alan Magee
Irish racegoers have really taken Flemenstar to their hearts and the Peter Casey-trained gelding certainly stepped up to the mark when taking the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase in brilliant fashion.

The imposing seven-year-old made all under Andrew Lynch and really stretched his two rivals, Sir Des Champs and Rubi Light, approaching the straight.

The evens favourite completed an impressive round of jumping with another two good leaps in the straight beating Sir Des Champs by five lengths, with Rubi Light weakening 29 lengths adrift in third.

Casey said, “I’m delighted with that, and he’s still not ready! He’ll go to Leopardstown at Christmas and will get three miles. I’ve never had any doubt about him getting three miles.

“We’ll have to see how he comes out of this race first. There is the Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase as well as the Lexus. I don’t want to get to the bottom of him at this stage and, if we feel its best for the horse, he could go for the two-mile race at Christmas.

“The Gold Cup is still the plan long term.”

However owner Stephen Curran later ruled out the possibility of dropping the winner back in trip.

Stan James make Flemenstar their 5/1 second favourite (from 8/1) for the Gold Cup behind Bob's Worth (4/1), with Sir Des Champs 6/1 (from 5's).

Ladbrokes were even more impressed and quote Flemenstar as 4/1 joint favourite for the Gold Cup along with Bob's Worth. Sir Des Champs is 7/1 (from 5's).

Willie Mullins was not too down beat about Sir Des Champs losing his unbeaten record saying, "I'd rather have won but Flemenstar took the race by the scruff of the neck. It was a good performance and he deserved it.

"My fellow ran a good solid race, and there is a lot to look forward to. He will probably run at Christmas and I will have to chat to the owners.

"He's entered in the Lexus, King George and the Dial-A-Bet. He could run in the two-mile race to get further experience but we will have to see how he comes out of this and discuss it."

GRAND NATIONAL - The Northern Challenge

The Sue Smith-trained Auroras Encore was the last northern-trained horse to win the Grand National back in 2013 but recent victories for that part of the country have been thin on the ground since the likes of Lucius, Rubstic and Hallo Dandy in the late 70s early 80’s showed that steeplechasing was in a healthy state north of the Watford Gap with the likes of Gordon W Richards, Denys Smith, Arthur Stephenson, Peter Easterby and Jimmy Fitzgerald capable of holding their own against their southern and Irish counterparts.