Naas challenge for Casey's rising star
MEATH trainer Peter Casey has confirmed that his exciting novice chaser Flemenstar will bid to further enhance his growing reputation at Naas on Sunday.
Second to the subsequent Grade One winner Bog Warrior on his fencing debut at Navan in November, Flemenstar recorded a devastating 19-length pillar-to-post success under Andrew Lynch when he returned to the same venue later that month.
That marked the seven-year-old down as one of the leading prospects in his division, but Casey avoided the temptation to step up in class over Christmas, preferring to wait for this weekend's two-mile novice.
"I had him on The Curragh this morning and I was delighted with him," Casey reported yesterday.
"The plan after Navan was to run in this race at Naas on Sunday, and that's where he will go now. You could have taken on all the good ones at Leopardstown over Christmas, but you have to take your time, let him make his way up to that standard."
Should Sunday's race, in which the Willie Mullins-trained pair Call The Police and Lambro are also engaged, go to plan for Flemenstar, Casey revealed that the Grade One Irish Arkle at Leopardstown would then be on the agenda, though he was reluctant to speculate beyond that.
Despite generating a bid of €200,000 at the sales in the summer, his Stephen Curran-owned son of Flemensfirth returned unsold, and remains for sale at the right price.
Casey also revealed that his 2010 Troytown winner Jack The Bus, a late withdrawal from last week's Paddy Power Chase due to the drying ground at Leopardstown, would run at Navan on Sunday week ahead of a tilt at Gowran Park's Thyestes Chase later in the month.
The most valuable domestic race scheduled for this weekend is Naas' €37,500 Slaney Novice Hurdle. Willie Mullins' facile Navan Grade One scorer Boston Bob is joined by stablemate Local Celebrity in the line-up for the two-and-a-half-mile feature, while Dedigout, Make A Track and Monksland are others to feature among the 11-strong entry.
Last term's Irish Grand National hero Organisedconfusion is also engaged in the Grade Two.
Philip Fenton, meanwhile, has revealed that a decision has yet to be made about Last Instalment's next target. As low as 7/1 for the RSA Chase at Cheltenham in March following his impressive Grade One triumph at Leopardstown, the Gigginstown Stud-owned gelding has February's Dr PJ Moriarty Chase back at the Dublin venue as an option, while Fenton also suggested after last week's win that Cheltenham could even be skipped in favour of a tilt at the Powers Gold Cup at Fairyhouse in April.
"He came out of Leopardstown really well," Fenton said yesterday, "but I don't think we'll be in any huge hurry to run him back that quick. I'm going to let the dust settle for the time being."
Elsewhere, Nicky Henderson has entered a highly-regarded French import, Captain Conan, for Saturday's Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown -- one of just nine entries mustered for this Grade One even after it was re-opened on Monday.
After receiving five initial entries on Monday, the race was reopened and attracted a bigger field with Prospect Wells, a beaten favourite when fourth in the Ladbroke Hurdle last time out, now set to face the Philip Hobbs-trained Colour Squadron as well as Henderson's unknown quantity.
Colour Squadron beat the highly regarded Montbazon on soft ground at Newbury last month. Also entered are Magnifique Etoile, still unbeaten over hurdles, plus Arab League, Aussie Blue, High Storm, Judiciary and Seedless.