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14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Queen Mother target for FlemenstarHeadlines
Flemenstar

Flemenstar is set to have the Queen Mother Champion Chase as his Cheltenham Festival target following his reverse in the Lexus Chase.

After putting previously unbeaten chaser Sir Des Champs to the sword with a brilliant display in the two-and-a-half-mile John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase, Flemenstar was a hot favourite for the feature event of Leopardstown's Christmas meeting, but still had to prove his stamina over three miles.

Having travelled and jumped with panache under Andrew Lynch, the seven-year-old appeared a weary horse after jumping the last and although he stuck to his task well enough to finish third, beaten just three-quarters of a length by Tidal Bay, trainer Peter Casey feels his stamina limitations were exposed.

Casey does not feel it would be right to test his charge over an extended three and a quarter miles at Cheltenham in March and with the two-mile-five-furlong Ryanair Chase seemingly of no appeal, he is set to tackle the formidable Sprinter Sacre over the minimum trip instead.

Asked about whether the Gold Cup was still being considered, Casey said: "We'll have to rule that out. He won't get that extra two furlongs. You'd think he was going to win coming to the last fence, he was cruising. He just found nothing after the last 100 yards.

"The Queen Mother, that will be it. The two-mile Champion Chase. That will be the one we'd go for."

Casey is confident that Flemenstar is capable of shaking up the current Champion Chase favourite Sprinter Sacre.

"Our lad is a great jumper and has plenty of speed. He jumped well (on Friday) but every time he landed he was wanting to get going," said the trainer.

"In Cheltenham, if we went for the Queen Mother, he'd have to go there, Andrew would be letting him stride on and we'd give that other lad (Sprinter Sacre) something to think about then! That's what we're going to try and do anyway."

Casey will consult Flemenstar's owner before deciding on a next port of call, but is leaning away from another crack at three miles in the Hennessy Gold Cup back at Leopardstown in February.

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