Flemenstar connections focused on Hennessy

Wed 9th Jan 2013, 11:13

photoFlemenstar
©Healy Racing Photos
Cheltenham Festival ambitions must be shelved until after Flemenstar has run in the Hennessy Gold Cup, said his owner Stephen Curran.

The Peter Casey-trained eight-year-old will be given three entries at the Festival in March, including in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup.

But connections insist his current priority is the Hennessy at Leopardstown on February 9th.

Curran said: "He's in great order, but we will make plans for Cheltenham much closer to the time.

"He'll be entered in the Queen Mother, the Ryanair Chase and the Gold Cup, but we are just concentrating on the Hennessy.

"Cheltenham is two months away and you wouldn't know what was going on with the ground by then."

The issue of Flemenstar's Cheltenham destination has generated much debate since his exemplary winning run was ended in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas.

Andrew Lynch's partner travelled supremely well for most of the three-mile journey, but was overtaken close home by First Lieutenant and the winner, Tidal Bay.

Despite that defeat, his owner is convinced the three-times Grade One winner would last the distance of the Gold Cup, which is over two and a half furlongs further than the Lexus.

Curran said: "He's a big, long-striding horse and, in hindsight, we should have gone on a mile out.

"If we'd have done that, he'd have put a lot of the horses in trouble with his jumping, which is his biggest asset.

"The ground was also hard work the other day, so that was another reason.

"I think he'll definitely stay (in the Gold Cup).

"He's still only a baby and still has a great future."

Might Bite To Prove His Worth Next Season

There is not much attention given to national hunt racing in the summer months, by punters or by the media. It is, of course, understandable given that our attention is focused on the flat season: the action at Royal Ascot, the Classics and the rest of the elements that define the summer racing season. Some punters might have a dabble at an ante post bet for Cheltenham next year, but by and large we forget about it until the autumn.

THE IRISH TIMES