The Punter: Brilliant Flemenstar sure to have golden future
Anticipation is at fever pitch for the renewed clash between Flemenstar and Sir Des Champs in today’s Lexus Chase, one of the feature races at Leopardstown's three-day Christmas Festival.
Peter Casey's Flemenstar got the better of Willie Mullins' top chaser in the John Durkan Memorial Chase recently but has yet to prove his stamina for three miles.
This race will decide whether Flemenstar goes to Cheltenham for a Gold Cup (3m 2f) bid or the Ryanair Chase (2m 5f).
Colourful trainer Casey is confident his potential star will have no problem with the Lexus trip and expects him to confirm the form with Sir Des Champs whom he outjumped over 2m 4f of the Durkan race.
“Since the John Durkan Memorial, there has been no bother and no problem, but he's been more than ticking over,” said trainer Casey.
“The Gold Cup is our main objective and we'll know more about that after the Lexus.”
It's not a two-horse race, though, with Paul Nicholls sending over Tidal Bay who'll love the testing conditions and bids to give Britain’s champion trainer his third success, having won the race with Denman and What A Friend, owned by Sir Alex Ferguson.
Tidal Bay ran a cracker under top weight when chasing home Bobs Worth in Newbury's Hennessy Gold Cup.
Flemenstar is a super jumper of fences and should have no worries about the ground.
If he wins here as expected, he'll be the new ante-post favourite for Cheltenham's golden prize.
Take the 6/1 on offer now and back him to win the Lexus at 11/8.
The curtain was to fall on BBC's six decades of televised racing with coverage of the Welsh National at Chepstow yesterday, but the meeting didn’t survive after heavy rain.
The postponement would have been a disappointment to Victor Dartnall whose charge Giles Cross loves heavy ground and would have had the stamina to chalk up a win.
Punters will be disappointed too as Giles Cross — runner-up last year, beaten seven lengths by Le Beau Bai — was on offer at 12/1!
The Welsh National will now go ahead on January 5.