FOR the second consecutive year, Flemenstar won the Boylesports.com Fortria Chase but 12 months on from his first there were notable differences.
Of course, there was a different man putting the saddle on his back, as the horse was running for Tony Martin for the first time, but it was the unorthodox way in which the eight-year-old got from one side of the Navan furze to the other that was a notable difference.
Flemenstar's electric jumping of a fence had been one of the traits that catapulted him to his current standing as the second highest-rated chaser on this island but yesterday his method of getting from A to B was far from lavish or anything like what we had become accustomed to seeing.
A delighted, and admittedly relieved, Tony Martin said afterwards: "He's back safe and he has won so of course I'm happy.
"He let fly at a few down the back and was a bit extravagant but I'd hope that was just down to freshness."
The crowd was slightly up on what had flocked to the Meath venue for the same meeting 12 months ago and those who braved the bitter November afternoon did so in anticipation that Flemenstar could wow them on his seasonal bow.
He didn't quite manage that en route to denying the Henry de Bromhead-trained Days Hotel by a length and a quarter, but it was a smoother success than the winning margin would suggest however and the record books will show nothing other than a win.
It was a seasonal debut and he will undoubtedly come on for the outing however and Martin was honest in his assessment of the performance, while also giving little away about the future.
"It's grand that it's out of the way and he's won," said the trainer, who was completing a treble on the day with Flemenstar winning the feature.
"I suppose I'm not sure did we learn anything we didn't already know so we'll take him home now and see how he is for the next week or so and decide where we go in the next two to three weeks. He's in everything and it's a bit early to be making a plan."
Sponsors Boylesports made no alteration to their Ryanair Chase market on the back of the performance and he remains an 8/1 shot for that particular assignment in March.
"We'll take our time with him and I'll have a chat with Andy (Lynch) and Stevie (Curran) and we'll make a plan. I'm still finding my feet and they'll help guide me."
Concluding on Flemenstar Martin added: "I would say he'll improve from that run. Mine first time out will always needed the run yet I needed to have him ready enough to go and win but he will improve fitness wise."
The first leg of the Martin three-timer came in the Boylesports Download App Lismullen Hurdle as Dedigout returned to something of his best by denying Mala Beach and giving Gigginstown fitting compensation for the absence of Rule The World.
Davy Russell switched to the Dedigout in the favourite's absence and he took it up after the last to stay on strongly to claim the 2m4f Grade Two.
"That's his ground and running him on anything quicker would be pointless," Martin revealed.
"He was very good when he won his beginners chase at Punchestown last year but he just made a mistake at Leopardstown in the Grade One at Christmas and that was his confidence gone for the season. We've done plenty with him in the meantime and I don't know where we will go next."
Spacious Sky was the middle leg of the Martin treble as he claimed the handicap hurdle under Robbie Colgan.