Flemenstar set for weekend return


Flemenstar will make his long-awaited return in Saturday’s Webster Cup at Navan.

A three-time Grade One-winning chaser for trainer Peter Casey, the 10-year-old has been sidelined by injury since making a successful debut for Tony Martin in November 2013.

That was Flemenstar’s fourth victory from six starts at Navan and having been nursed back to fitness, he will make his comeback in County Meath this weekend.

Owner Stephen Curran said: “Everything has been going well and he seems in good form at home.

“He’s back with Tony and we’re looking forward to his first race back after injury.

“We’re hoping to get him ready for Punchestown, but Saturday will tell us a lot and we always take it one day at a time with him.

“Whatever he does at the weekend he’ll improve on it.”

Flemenstar stars in a dozen entries for the two-and-a-half-mile Grade Two event, with Martin also represented by Savello, last seen finishing sixth in the Queen Mother Champion Chase at Cheltenham.

Sandra Hughes is also double-handed with Art Of Logistics and Bright New Dawn in contention, while Willie Mullins relies on Felix Yonger.

There is a potential British challenger in the shape of Donald McCain’s Desert Cry.

The Charles Byrnes-trained Arnaud, Tom Taaffe’s Argocat and Rathlin from Mouse Morris’ yard are also in the mix.

Meanwhile leading owner Barry Connell is undecided on what route to pursue next term with Martello Tower after confirming his Cheltenham Festival hero will not run again this season.

The Margaret Mullins-trained seven-year-old clinched the fourth success of an excellent campaign when toughing it out in the Albert Bartlett at Prestbury Park on Gold Cup day and Connell feels his charge has done enough for the year.

Connell said: “We were obviously delighted with him and we’ve decided to give him a good break now, so he’s finished for the season.

“I think you’ll find if any of mine win at Cheltenham, they will probably be given the rest of the season off and I think he deserves that.

“We’re just keeping our options open for next season. We could either stay over hurdles or go over fences and we’ll just see where we are nearer the time.”

Eoin Griffin is looking towards the Ryanair Gold Cup Novice Chase at Fairyhouse with Azorian.

A talented hurdler, Azorian has one won of his five chase starts this term, claiming a moderate Navan heat at the beginning of March.

He was not beaten far in a Grade Three event by Fine Rightly just seven days later, with Griffin now giving him an easier spell in anticipation of a big-race date on April 5.

“At the moment it looks like he will go for the Ryanair. I’ll have to talk to Eddie (O’Leary of owners Gigginstown House Stud) to see what way it fits into their plan as they have quite a few entries in the race,” said Griffin.

“He ran well last time out. It was his third run in around 16 days. He had a bit of time over the previous two weeks and I think it just left him a bit flat so we were happy with the run.

“If he could put up a respectable performance in the Ryanair, we would be happy. He had a few breathing problems but they seem to be resolved now.”

Archive could also be on duty for Griffin at Fairyhouse after winning a Leopardstown bumper on his most recent start.

The trainer said: “Archive is in good form. He was entered in a bumper at Limerick last week but I didn’t run him as I thought the ground was a bit on the dead side for him.

“He will either go to Fairyhouse for a winners bumper or there is a possibility he might go to Aintree for the bumper over there. He will be entered in both and we will see closer to the time.”

Rathpatrick is also the frame for Fairyhouse following a third-placed effort at Gowran last month.

Griffin added: “The three-mile novice handicap hurdle at Fairyhouse is the plan with Rathpatrick. He is in good order and we will see how he goes there.

“I don’t think three miles will be an issue for him.

“He won a two-and-a-half-mile bumper so he is fairly versatile trip-wise and I don’t think the three will be a problem.”


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