Flemenstar eyes Gold Cup after Punchestown triumph
ALL roads still lead to Cheltenham and the Gold Cup for Flemenstar after the seven-year-old added further lustre to his reputation with victory in the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown.
Jockey Andrew Lynch set out to make every post a winning one and the tactics worked a treat as Peter Casey's charge jumped for fun at the head of affairs.
Sir Des Champs, unbeaten since joining Willie Mullins, including two wins at the Cheltenham Festival, was ridden from some way out by Davy Russell but had no answer to Flemenstar's pace rounding the turn for home.
Coral cut Flemenstar to 5-1 for Cheltenham (from 8-1) behind Bobs Worth, and he is set to test his credentials further when trying three miles for the first time in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown on December 28.
Casey said: "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.
"The Gold Cup is still the plan long term."
Lynch said: "He was good, he did it well.
"It wasn't ideal making it but none of the other two wanted to go on. I just thought he'd be better off being in front than hacking in behind.
"He didn't seem to be stopping at the finish so hopefully we'll find out more over Christmas."
Mullins said of Sir Des Champs: "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."
Mullins dominated the rest of the card, bagging a treble led by Mikael D'Haguenet, who recorded his first win over fences at the eighth attempt in the Blue Square Bet Beginners Chase.
Paul Townend did the steering on the 8-13 favourite as he beat Lord Windermere by two and three-quarter lengths, and the result never really looked in any doubt bar a mistake at the second-last.
Mullins said: "We might just keep him low-key, maybe we'll go to Limerick for the Grade Two down there."
Mullins' son, Patrick, who is chasing the record for number of winners by an amateur in a calendar year in Ireland (he now needs just four), rode the other two.
Pride Ofthe Parish (1-3 favourite) barely broke sweat in the novice hurdle while Sizing Tennessee (4-6 favourite) had to see off the persistent challenge of Redundant Man in the closing bumper.
Mullins snr said of Pride Ofthe Parish: "He did it nicely. We'll keep him going in staying novice hurdles although he is going to be a chaser down the road. He's particularly at home on this heavy ground."
Sizing Tennessee is owned by Ann and Alan Potts of Sizing Europe fame and looks a chaser of the future. Stan James introduced him at 25-1 for the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham in March.
Sizing Europe's trainer Henry de Bromhead enjoyed a great day with an across-the-card treble, his two winners at Cork supplemented by Too Scoops, owned by some Paddy Power employees, who was a good winner of the I.N.H. Stallion Owners E.B.F. Novice Hurdle.
De Bromhead said: "He's in at Leopardstown over Christmas but we'll see how it unfolds."
Townend doubled up courtesy of Glenquest (5-2 favourite) in the Weatherbys Ireland GSB Handicap Chase.