Flemenstar to grab the headlines
NAVAN PREVIEW:The story of Flemenstar and trainer Peter Casey promises to be a constant headline-grabbing thread running through the upcoming winter campaign and tomorrow’s Grade Two Navan feature could be their first step towards Cheltenham Gold Cup glory in March.
A chasing debut defeat to Bog Warrior at this Irish Form Book Fortria Chase meeting last year was a sole defeat in six starts over fences for Flemenstar whose story caught the public imagination in Ireland.
Much of that had to do with Casey’s colourful comments after the horse delivered a pulverising performance in January’s Arkle at Leopardstown but behind all the jokes Casey and his team expertly plotted a perfect course for the best prospect they’ve ever had.
It culminated in an impressive Powers Gold Cup victory at Easter, after which all potential buyers got the message that Casey and owner Stephen Curran are resolutely pursuing their blue-riband dreams with Flemenstar who is as low as 8 to 1 second favourite for Cheltenham.
The star attraction kicks off over the minimum two miles this weekend and faces no less an opponent than the former Queen Mother champion Big Zeb who is after a four-in-a-row in the €37,500 Fortria.
He is rated the same as Realt Dubh who makes a quick reappearance after Down Royal last weekend, but both are 7lb wrong with Flemenstar.
Casey has warned his pride-and-joy will be a long way from fully wound up but Flemenstar’s Arkle success proved two miles on heavy ground is no trouble to him and if he is to be a true Gold Cup contender, his class should see him through.
Flemenstar’s jockey Andrew Lynch will also fancy his chances in the Lismullen Hurdle as Voler La Vedette attempts back-to-back victories in the Grade Two.
Colm Murphy’s star mare progressed to a well-deserved first Grade One success in the first half of last season and in the second half ran a career best when making Big Buck’s work for it at Cheltenham.
So Young holds a slight edge at the figures tomorrow in terms of official ratings but Voler La Vedette is usually a formidable opponent first time out.
The For Auction Hurdle is the other black type event and Sizing Rio brings a substantial reputation to it after easily disposing of Cops and Robbers at Fairyhouse.
Trainer Henry De Bromhead is in form but so is Dessie Hughes and Captain Arceus was impressive over the course and distance in September.
Hughes gives his double-flat winner Our Conor a first start over jumps in the three-year-old hurdle and this mid-80s runner on the level will be hard to beat with a competent round of jumping.