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Flemenstar and Sir Des Champs set for Punchestown showdown in John Durkan Memorial Chase

Updated: Friday, 07 Dec 2012 19:16 | Comments

Flemenstar takes a long winning run into the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase
Flemenstar takes a long winning run into the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase

Flemenstar and Sir Des Champs are set to grab the limelight on Sunday as they face a showdown in the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase.

The former, who is trained by Peter Casey, will be chasing a seventh consecutive victory, with two Grade One victories bagged last term.

The Willie Mullins-trained Sir Des Champs is a leading fancy for the Cheltenham Gold Cup but will be having his first start since his Grade One win at Punchestown in April.

Rubi Light will be back to defend his title for Robbie Hennessy, while Bog Warrior provides a second string for Gigginstown House Stud, the owners of Sir Des Champs.

Casey reports everything to have gone smoothly with Flemenstar since his easy victory first time out this season.

"The nerves are fine, I'm not worried," said the County Meath handler.

"His jumping is his greatest asset, I think. He takes lengths out of the others at every fence, even in bad ground.

"We wouldn't want it sticky on Sunday, that's the only thing.

"It wouldn't hurt if it rained just before racing, just to loosen the ground up.

"Everything has been grand with him but he's meeting a better class of horse on Sunday, they are all Grade One winners.

"If he was in a handicap he'd be giving them weight, though.

"We see the Durkan as a stepping stone to going three miles with him so we'll know an awful lot more after this - it will tell us where we go.

"Everyone I meet say he is a joy to watch with his jumping and I hope they are still saying that after this."

Davy Russell is the lucky man who gets to ride all of the Gigginstown horses and the jewel in their crown is Sir Des Champs, who is unbeaten since joining Mullins.

"I'm really looking forward to it, I have been all summer," said Russell.

"It's a tough place to start, but it was always going to be wherever he went because he's a Grade One horse.

"I suppose it will depend on who handles the conditions best.

"This looks the right race to start him off in if we are maybe thinking of stepping up in trip at some stage."

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