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14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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D-Day for ChampsHeadlines
Sir Des Champs

Connections of Sir Des Champs feel he could be more at home over three miles in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown.

Willie Mullins' exciting prospect lost his unbeaten record over fences when being put in his place by Flemenstar on his return in the two-and-a-half-mile John Durkan at Punchestown.

Eddie O'Leary, manager for owners Gigginstown House Stud, said: "It's a fantastic race and we are trying to beat a very good horse in Flemenstar. Sir Des Champs has had a run now and it's three miles on a more galloping track, which should suit."

O'Leary added: "He has to show up well, really. If Flemenstar beats us again, he is the better horse and we'll have to go somewhere else. If he beats us again, Flemenstar will be Ireland's Gold Cup horse for this season."

First Lieutenant and Quito De La Roque also carry the Gigginstown silks, and O'Leary said: "First Lieutenant has a chance as well, and so does Quito. We still think Quito is a good horse. He has cheekpieces on and hopefully that will help him. All three have them have chances, but obviously Sir Des Champs is our main hope."

Gigginstown's retained rider Davy Russell has unsurprisingly opted to ride Sir Des Champs, but insists it was not easy to pass over First Lieutenant.

"We're in there with a fighting chance. Hopefully he's up to competing at this level, whether he's up to winning only time will tell. I don't know if he's going to improve a lot for his first run. I suppose the longer distance might help him improve as much as anything," said the champion jockey.

"It wasn't a straightforward decision to ride Sir Des Champs. First Lieutenant is well up there in my mind and he is no back number, I can tell you. Quito has been a bit disappointing on his last couple of runs. Hopefully he can improve a bit."

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