Anthony Curran's Flemenstar in great heart but ‘very doubtful’ for Cheltenham

Anthony Curran will make a plan for Flemenstar later in the week after his stable star finished a good second in the Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown on Sunday.
Anthony Curran's Flemenstar in great heart but ‘very doubtful’ for Cheltenham

Successful in a Grade One at Leopardstown over Christmas, the son of Flemensfirth led from four out but was headed before the last by eventual winner Felix Yonger.

He kept on again on the run-in, going down by just a length and a quarter at the line.

Curran said: “He is fine after yesterday, he is in great nick. He ran his race and we have no complaints. He ran up to his form at Christmas.

“We will give it another week or so before we make any plans. Cheltenham would be very doubtful because of the ground, he has to have soft ground.

“There is a race at Navan after Easter, but we are not really sure, we will give it until the end of the week before we make any plans for him.”

Meanwhile Road To Riches is firmly on course for Saturday’s Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown after delighting trainer Noel Meade in a racecourse gallop at Punchestown on Sunday.

Last season’s Cheltenham Gold Cup third has not been seen in competitive action since landing November’s Clonmel Oil Chase, having missed an intended run in the Lexus over the festive period due to a minor setback.

Meade reports his stable star to be firing on all cylinders again now, however, and he was thrilled with how he worked over the weekend alongside fellow Irish Gold Cup contender Wounded Warrior.

“We were thrilled with him. He went round with Wounded Warrior and we couldn’t have asked for him to go better,” said Meade.

“Usually when you come to the track you’re always worried something goes wrong and you’ll make a stupid mistake, but he didn’t. He jumped brilliant and quickened up well.

“He was absolutely bombing and came back in with a big smile on his face and his ears pricked, so I’m delighted.

“The little blip at Christmas was just a cold and I had to give him antibiotics for a couple of days to clear it up.”

Paddy Power make the Gigginstown House Stud-owned Road To Riches the 10-11 favourite for the Leopardstown showpiece.

Trainer Colm Murphy is targeting the spring festivals with Empire Of Dirt following his big-race triumph at Leopardstown earlier this month.

A faller in last season’s Irish Grand National, the nine-year-old was a good winner of the valuable Leopardstown Handicap Chase on his latest outing and could be part of what is likely to be a formidable team for owners Gigginstown House Stud bound for Cheltenham in March.

Murphy said: “He’s in very good form and came out of Leopardstown bouncing.

“I’m not 100 per cent certain where we’ll go with him at this stage.

“He’ll get a few entries in Cheltenham – that and Aintree would look the obvious targets for him.

“I’d say it’s very unlikely he’ll run before then (Cheltenham), with the way the ground is.”

Gary Moore has had a change of heart regarding Ar Mad’s Cheltenham Festival preparations and will let his star novice chaser have another run at Plumpton later this month.

The six-year-old was hugely impressive on his first two starts over fences and completed by hat-trick by seeing off Saturday’s Doncaster scorer Vaniteux at Kempton over the Christmas period.

Moore initially felt his charge had gained enough experience and planned to give his charge a racecourse gallop prior to a likely appearance in the Arkle Trophy in March, for which he is a general 12-1 chance.

However, he is now keen to give his charge another competitive start on a left-handed track, as he disappointed badly on his only previous chase outing going that way at Plumpton back in October.

“Ar Mad will come here (Plumpton) in a fortnight’s time,” said Moore.

“He was going to have a racecourse gallop, but we thought if we are going to find out if he can go left-handed we might as well test him properly.

“If all goes well he will then go to the Arkle.”

The West Sussex-based trainer also had news of Baron Alco, who won his first three starts of the campaign before being touched off in a competitive event at Ascot earlier this month.

Moore said: “Hopefully he will now get into the Coral Cup (at Cheltenham) as he is off 140, so that will be the plan.

“He is a horse that has fairly amazed me this season as he just keeps improving, which is good to see.”

Trainer Sandy Thomson has confirmed Seeyouatmidnight an intended runner in Saturday’s totepool Towton Novices’ Chase at Wetherby.

The eight-year-old was beaten on his debut over fences at Carlisle in November, but righted that wrong at Kelso next time and proved his class with a brilliant display at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.

Thomson hopes to see his charge line up at the Cheltenham Festival in March, but he must first come through what could be a demanding test in West Yorkshire this weekend.

Thomson said: “The plan is for him to go to Wetherby on Saturday, all being well.

“He’s in good form and is ready for a run. I just hope the ground doesn’t get too testing, that would be a bit of a concern.

“It looks quite a competitive race at this stage. I’m sure a couple of them are in the Scilly Isles at Sandown as well, but maybe want to avoid More Of That, so we’ll see.”

Seeyouatmidnight is one of 12 possible runners in the extended three-mile Grade Two.

Colin Tizzard’s Native River is the highest-rated entrant after finishing third in the Feltham Novices’ Chase at Kempton over Christmas.

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