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."
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