Flemenstar shines at Punchestown


Presumably it will not take long for people to start hailing Sprinter Sacre as a two-mile steeplechaser without precedent, in keeping with the fatuous instinct that seems to demand indulgence with each new champion, both over jumps and on the Flat.

Those captivated by the sheer vitality of his reappearance at Sandown on Saturday should instead confine themselves to praying simply that he remains sound as his gorgeous physique nears maturity. And they might also count their blessings, that not quite 24 hours were required to volunteer a horse whose own exuberance made the divergence of their present paths a matter of wistful regret.

Certainly, the hallmark of Flemenstar's latest dominant performance, at Punchestown yesterday, was its boldness and precision. And while others might duly be inclined to keep him at two and a half miles, or even drop him back in trip for a showdown with Sprinter Sacre in the Queen Mother Champion Chase, connections instead intend to explore his stamina.

Not that anyone will be quibbling with Peter Casey, the veteran trainer whose handling of Flemenstar qualifies their story as a romantic throwback to the days before the big spenders channelled all the best young prospects into the same few yards. For so small a stable to house a talent as immense as Flemenstar is nowadays a marvel indeed.

Not that there will be undue despondency in the camp of Sir Des Champs, himself in the care of a man who tends to give monopoly a good name, in Willie Mullins.

Sir Des Champs squared up to Flemenstar in the John Durkan Chase as a dual Cheltenham Festival winner, unbeaten in five starts over fences. But Flemenstar, spared Cheltenham as a novice, arrived with the advantage of having a race under his belt already this season, having won his sixth consecutive chase at Navan last month. It was always likely, then, that he might prise open fissures in the fitness of Sir Des Champs, who was making his first start since April.

Sure enough, Davy Russell was obliged to drive his mount along merely to join issue as they turned in, with Flemenstar still tanking along under Andrew Lynch. Another bold leap two out confirmed the leader to be nowhere near the margin of his comfort zone and Flemenstar came bounding five lengths clear. Russell, meanwhile, confined himself to just the one firm slap on Sir Des Champs. The only other runner, the useful Rubi Light, was beaten out of sight.

"He's still not ready," said Casey. "I've never had any doubt about him getting three miles and the Gold Cup is still the plan, long term."

He will now prepare Flemenstar for a race at the Leopardstown Christmas meeting, almost certainly in the Lexus Chase over three miles – though Casey was intriguingly reserving the right to drop back in trip for the Paddy Power Dial-A-Bet Chase. "I don't want to get to the bottom of him at this stage," he added. "If we feel it's best for the horse, he could go for the two-mile race at Christmas."

Mullins expressed satisfaction with Sir Des Champs, while acknowledging that he had at no stage been deceived that his horse might win. He may opt for a rematch in the Lexus, but will also consider the William Hill King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day.

Sir Des Champs has so far sampled three miles only once, outclassing a small field at Punchestown, but for now remains entitled to avenge yesterday's defeat given a stiffer test in March. For now Ladbrokes eased his Gold Cup odds from 5-1 to 7-1, while promoting Flemenstar to a share of 4-1 favouritism with Bobs Worth.

The latter, of course, is a stablemate of Sprinter Sacre and had himself made an impeccable start to his second season over fences at Newbury the previous weekend. However, if any British trainer can match the delight of Nicky Henderson just now, then it must be Ed Dunlop after saddling Red Cadeaux to win the Hong Kong Vase yesterday.

Having come within a nose of landing a first Melbourne Cup for Britain last year, Red Cadeaux this time had a lucrative photo go his way and so embellished Dunlop's exceptional cv in international racing.

Turf account

CHRIS McGRATH'S NAP: King Brex (12.20 Musselburgh)

Ran his best race for his new stable when second over hurdles round here last time and returns to fences looking very well treated.

NEXT BEST: Blenheim Brook (2.50 Musselburgh)

Introduces class to this grade, having kept good company when second at Kelso last time, and has slipped temptingly down the weights.

ONE TO WATCH: Haaf A Sixpence (Ralph Beckett) is lightly raced and shaped well on his return from a lay-off at Kempton last week, clinging pluckily to third.

WHERE THE MONEY'S GOING: Road To Riches, who extended his unbeaten record for Noel Meade at Cork yesterday, is 16-1 from 25-1 with Sky Bet for the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham.

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Midsummer swimwear season is well and truly upon us – but diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily World Cup Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General


£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

SAP Data Migration Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Linux Systems Administrator

£33000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly successfu...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice