PETER CASEY'S hugely exciting Flemenstar remains on course for his first test over three miles after featuring among 12 confirmations for the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown on December 28.
So impressive on his seasonal reappearance at Navan over two miles, the seven-year-old stepped back up to two and a half miles to annihilate Willie Mullins' previously unbeaten chaser Sir Des Champs with an awesome display in the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase. Casey could not be happier with his pride and joy ahead of the post-Christmas extravaganza.
"Since the John Durkan Memorial, there has been no bother and no problem, but he's been more than ticking over - he cantered three miles today," said Casey.
"He'll do the last of his work on Sunday at the Curragh."
The trainer is keen to see how Flemenstar fares over the longer trip of the Lexus before making plans for the rest of the season. We'll have to see - I don't know if he'll run again or go straight to Cheltenham," he said.
"The Gold Cup is the main objective and we'll know on the 28th if he is a Gold Cup horse."
Flemenstar is once again likely to cross paths with the Gigginstown House Stud-owned Sir Des Champs, as well as a host of other top-class chasers.
Gigginstown also have Bog Warrior, First Lieutenant and Quito De La Roque engaged.
As well as First Lieutenant, Mouse Morris could saddle China Rock, Shark Hanlon is set to run stable star Hidden Cyclone and Noel Meade's Pandorama could run for the first time since the 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Sizing Europe remains in the mix, as does Rubi Light, while Paul Nicholls' Tidal Bay and Neil Mulholland's Midnight Chase could both travel from Britain. Among those taken out were Donald McCain's Weird Al and Weapon's Amnesty.