Felix Yonger denied Flemenstar in a thrilling renewal of the BoyleSports Tied Cottage Chase at Punchestown.
Sent off the even-money favourite, the Willie Mullins-trained winner was content to race in behind what looked a generous pace set by stablemate Twinlight, who had Flemenstar and Days Hotel in close attendance through the early stages.
Flemenstar, who returned to winning ways when taking full advantage of Un De Sceaux’s Leopardstown fall at Christmas, jumped with his trademark panache when taking over at the head of affairs, and rider Andrew Lynch kicked for home off the final bend.
But Ruby Walsh had the move covered, with enough in the tank to prove the stronger by a length and three-quarters, although Flemenstar stuck to his guns admirably and was far from disgraced.
Walsh said: ‘‘He surprised me with the turn of foot he showed going to the last to go by Flemenstar, it was a good performance.
“I thought it rode a good race. I’d say the Champion Chase would be the place to go, he is a Grade One winner over two miles so it would look the obvious the thing to do.”
Mullins said: “Ruby said he’s still improving, and I’d imagine he’ll take up his entry in the Champion Chase.
“The other option is to go for the race in Japan that Blackstairmountain won, but I’ll have to talk with Graham Wylie. It’s very expensive to run in, but there is big prize-money.
“We always thought he was better on better ground, but he seems to be handling this ground. If he went to Japan that would rule out Cheltenham.”
Paddy Power and BoyleSports both went 14-1 from 20-1 for the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
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