Flemenstar made a superb seasonal reappearance with an impressive victory in the Irish Form Book Fortria Chase at Navan.
Coming back to two miles on his first outing since winning the Powers Gold Cup at Fairyhouse in early April, Peter Casey's seven-year-old was sent straight to the lead by Andrew Lynch and produced some brilliant leaps to maintain control of the race.
He was tracked into the straight by Foildubh and Big Zeb, the latter searching for a fourth consecutive win in this Grade Two prize, but 10-11 favourite Flemenstar saw them off with ease, beating Big Zeb by seven lengths.
Casey had insisted all week his pride and joy was not fully wound up for his comeback run and he remained of that opinion after the event.
The trainer said: "When he is fit he'll be a good one! He will go for the John Durkan now at Punchestown (December 9).
"He has got stronger since last year, but he was only 80% fit today. He got beat here the last two years but I slept well last night, I wasn't worried about him. Andrew knows him well. There is no use in telling him what to do.
"After he goes over two and a half in the Durkan we will think about running him over three miles. He should get three miles on breeding."
The gelding enjoyed an exceptional novice campaign over fences last season, building on a promising second to Bog Warrior with five consecutive wins, and Coral have cut him to 7-1 from 9-1 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Stan James took a different view, easing Flemenstar to 10-1 for the Gold Cup but shortening him to 5-1 favourite for the Ryanair Chase.
The firm's Joseph Burke said: "We're not saying that he cannot stay, merely that we feel 10-1 is fair for a horse that has yet to prove himself over any further than two and a half miles."
19 December 2014Reve camp not expecting a hat-trick
King issues Chatez Triumph warning
Bolger searching for Mossey Joe key
King weighs up Karezak options
Henderson hoping Bobs makes Lexus
Simonsig camp play the long game
In-form Mole buries Exeter rivals
Sedgefield hit with heavy fine
Star names check in for Ryanair
Bobs revved up for Lexus repeat
Knott disqualified for three years
Geraghty braced for power Serge
Geraghty excited by Josses return
Activial stars in Ladbroke field
18 December 2014Alvarado back for National service
Winner given Lexus go-ahead
Cheltenham dreams for King's Zero
Sivola bids for Long Walk hat-trick
Power plan uncertain for Westener
Kauto pleases in Olympia display
Mullins eyes twin assault on Lexus
Value oozes class in Newbury romp
Annie Power on road to recovery
Spencer strikes after U-turn
Vautour ready for next jumps test
Mullins banks on Faugheen progress
Victory set to skip Ladbroke
Mullins: Fever can go the distance
17 December 2014Sidelined Brian misses Whittle
Sceaux to sidestep Haydock raid
Square season derailed by injury
Lexus a non-starter for Clouds
Europe return hinges on ground
Injury woe for Cookson
Plans on hold for Topper
Appeal success for Russell/Enright
Mulholland makes Master plan
Cango makes Catterick impression
Field sizes under BHA microscope
Quinn outlines Aurore options
Legal laying down the law at Ludlow
Ground dictates Attaglance plans
King heartened by Walkon return
Cross set Christmas conundrum
16 December 2014Pipe bowled over by Palace
Cole to duck Leopardstown mission
Pipe bowled over by Palace
Arbuthnot has Starluck options
Geraghty taken with weekend Heroes
Moore the merrier at Plumpton
Estrella back with a bang
Options fluid for Hargam
Lough set for Lexus workout
Sceaux in Haydock frame
Victoire at Ladbroke summit
Five left in Long Walk