Sir Des Champs leads Flemenstar
©Healy Racing Photos
By Thomas Weekes
Willie Mullins' utter domination of the Irish jumps scene was further emphasised with a ninth win in the Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown today with Sir Des Champs, under Davy Russell, completing a Grade 1 treble on the day for the Champion Trainer
Bog Warrior (coughing) was an absentee from the race with Quel Esprit cutting out the early front running and 4/5 favourite Flemenstar settled last of the four runners.
Russell, aware of Sir Des Champs abundance of stamina, made his move to lead at the third last with Flemenstar, under Andrew Lynch, moving second from two out.
From the last, Flemenstar was unable to catch Sir Des Champs and the winner held a length and three quarters lead at the line. It was the first occasion that dual Cheltenham Festival winner Sir Des Champs defeated Flemenstar, in three starts.
Both Champion Jockey Russell's and Sir Des Champs' owner Gigginstown House Stud were registering their first in the race and the combination were also striking at Grade 1 level for the first time this season.
Following the win, Mullins, who looks set to break all records this season, stated “we were hoping he would do that at Christmas but his jumping errors left him too far out of the race at the second last.
“He got his jumping right today and probably the drier ground helped, plus there was only four runners and the one ahead of him (stablemate Quel Esprit) gave him a good lead.
“I thought he got low at the early fences and I thought to myself that he would have to improve, which he did. Davy was very good on him – he inserted pace four out when he looked around and saw that Flemenstar was going so well. He had to do that to win and make a staying race of it.
“The further he was going, I thought the better he was going. I was worried early on had Quel Esprit gone fast enough, even for himself as he is a galloper, and needs plenty of pace. Paul (Townend, jockey) reported that he blew up and that he is now really coming back to himself.”
There's 'no recession around here' in Mullins' yard at present and that fact was not lost on the grateful trainer who added “I have some really good owners who can afford to buy really good stock and it is crucial to any business to have the investment.
“It's great to have these kind of clients investing in Irish racing but I also have a wonderful staff at home who keep it all going.”
Paddy Power later made Sir Des Champs 7/2 second favourite for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, behind 3/1 favourite Bobs Worth
Quotes from Gary Carson