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14 Feb 2011 | 19:15
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Hennessy focus for FlemenstarHeadlines
Flemenstar

Cheltenham Festival ambitions must be shelved until after Flemenstar has run in the Hennessy Gold Cup, said his owner Stephen Curran.

The Peter Casey-trained eight-year-old will be given three entries at the Festival in March, including in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup, but connections insist his current priority is the Hennessy at Leopardstown on February 9.

Curran said: "He's in great order, but we will make plans for Cheltenham much closer to the time."

The owner went on: "He'll be entered in the Queen Mother, the Ryanair Chase and the Gold Cup, but we are just concentrating on the Hennessy. Cheltenham is two months away and you wouldn't know what was going on with the ground by then."

The issue of Flemenstar's Cheltenham destination has generated much debate since his exemplary winning run was ended in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas.

Andrew Lynch's partner travelled supremely well for most of the three-mile journey, but was overtaken close home by First Lieutenant and the winner Tidal Bay.

Despite that defeat, his owner is convinced the three-times Grade One winner would last the distance of the Gold Cup, which is over two and a half furlongs further than the Lexus.

Curran said: "He's a big, long-striding horse and, in hindsight, we should have gone on a mile out. If we'd have done that, he'd have put a lot of the horses in trouble with his jumping, which is his biggest asset. The ground was also hard work the other day, so that was another reason.

"I think he'll definitely stay (in the Gold Cup). He's still only a baby and still has a great future."

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