Flemenstar fine after John Durkan win
The Lexus at Leopardstown is next up for Flemenstar
(Healy Racing Photos)
A winner of five of his six starts over fences as a novice, the seven-year-old made a superb return to action over just two miles in the Fortria Chase at Navan last month and was back up to two and a half miles for the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase.
Flemenstar appeared to face his toughest task to date in tackling the previously unbeaten chaser Sir Des Champs, but he produced a foot-perfect round of jumping under Andrew Lynch to beat his fellow Cheltenham Gold Cup hope with plenty to spare.
Casey said: "There's not a bother on him this morning. He didn't have that hard a race really.
"I was a bit worried last week as he seemed very quiet and he was the same at the races yesterday, but maybe he's just growing up."
Casey is now looking forward to seeing his pride and joy test his powers over three miles for the first time under Rules in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown on December 28th.
The long-term target is Gold Cup, where his stamina will be tested even more severely over the extended three and a quarter miles of Prestbury Park turf.
"We have another big day coming up at Christmas. That will be his first run over three miles and it will tell us a lot more," said the trainer.
"I don't think he'll have any trouble getting the trip there and as Mick Fitzgerald (former jockey) said, only time will tell how he gets on over the last couple of fences in the Gold Cup. Let's just hope we get there.
"I don't think he was fully ready for yesterday and I think he can improve between now and Christmas, but then he'll probably need to.
"We'll get his next race out of the way before we look any further. The good thing about him is the ground doesn't make any difference, but obviously I wouldn't like to run him on very firm ground.
"I never thought I'd have a horse like this and you have to give credit to the owner, as he could have sold him 10 times in the summer.
"If he'd sold him he wouldn't still be with me, but he always said he wasn't going to sell and I'm very happy he didn't!"
Daryl Jacob has appealed against the 10-day ban handed out by the Wincanton stewards for failing to ride out to the line on Ulis De Vassy last Thursday.