Belfast Telegraph

Flemenstar all set to sparkle

By Robert Fenton

Flemenstar takes another step towards rebuilding his chasing reputation by contesting Sunday's John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown which he won last year.

Now under the control of Tony Martin, he won on his seasonal debut at Navan but did nothing out of the ordinary to convince many that he was back to anywhere near his best.

Flemenstar can put that right this weekend.

He will be up against Sir Des Champs, beaten 12 months ago but who went on to finish second to Ulster-bred Bobs Worth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup and was then victorious at the Punchestown Festival in April.

However, trainer Willie Mullins has made it clear that the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown's Christmas Festival is his main aim and so Sir Des Champs, for whom two and a half miles won't be ideal this weekend, is likely to need the outing.

Robbie Hennessy's Rubi Light was third 12 months ago, beaten a long way, and is engaged to run again but disappointed in the Clonmel Oil Chase last time out, having previously run well behind Sizing Europe at Gowran.

The winner at Clonmel that day, Arvika Ligeonniere, is another Mullins possibility but the trainer is unlikely to go with him and Sir Des Champs.

Jessica Harrington keeps faith with the disappointing Oscars Well while in-form Gordon Elliott is triple-handed with Realt Mor, Roi Du Mee – JNwine.com Champion Chase winner at last month's Down Royal Festival – and Toner D'Oudairies, with the latter the best hope from that yard.

Flemenstar is 6/4 for a repeat victory and that should be taken.

Over at Sandown tomorrow, a cracking Henry VIII Novice Chase is in store, with several leading candidates for Arkle success next March.

Much focus will be on Nicky Henderson's Grandouet but he has to be opposed.

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