Flemenstar back in winner's circle
Racing:Flemenstar made a superb seasonal reappearance with an impressive victory in the Irish Form Book Fortria Chase at Navan. Peter Casey’s seven-year-old enjoyed an exceptional novice campaign over fences, building on a promising second to Bog Warrior with five consecutive wins.
Coming back to two miles on his first appearance since winning the Powers Gold Cup at Fairyhouse in early April, Flemenstar was sent straight to the lead by Andrew Lynch and produced some brilliant leaps to maintain control of the race.
He was tracked into the straight by Foildubh and Big Zeb, the latter searching for a fourth consecutive win in this Grade Two prize, but 10-11 favourite Flemenstar saw them off with ease, beating Big Zeb by seven lengths.
Coral cut Flemenstar to 7-1 from 9-1 for this season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Whatuthink produced a tremendously game performance to inflict a shock defeat on Voler La Vedette in the Lismullen Hurdle.
Colm Murphy’s top-class mare was a 1-7 favourite to claim this Grade Two prize for the second successive year and was ridden with extreme confidence by Lynch, settled right out the back of the field.
She made good headway heading down the back straight to take much closer order and was within a couple of lengths of the front-running Whatuthink jumping the second from home, but could not get any closer.
In fact, 25-1 shot Whatuthink asserted running to the final obstacle and safely negotiated it to seal victory, passing the post with four and a quarter lengths in hand.
Winning trainer Oliver McKiernan said: “He has always had ability. We decided to go back over hurdles with him. It was a great performance by him but maybe fitness over the others was the key. He was tipping away all summer while the others were just starting out.
“He loves that ground and he kept going. He will go to Leopardstown now at Christmas and he might run before then. The plan was to make plenty of use of him and if they were good enough to go by him so be it.”
Henry de Bromhead’s Sizing Rio led his rivals from start to finish in the Grade Three ‘For Auction’ Novice Hurdle.
Andrew Lynch sent the 4-5 favourite straight to the front in the two-mile contest and it was clear from the home turn the majority of his opponents would struggle to peg back the deficit.
There were a few moments of concern for favourite-backers, however, as Ruby Walsh conjured a dangerous-looking run out of Ted Veale between the final two flights. But Sizing Rio went again once Walsh’s mount was on his tail and was always doing enough at the finish to score by a length and a half.