Two of Ireland’s top steeple chasers Sir Des Champs and Flemenstar will renew their rivalry in next Sunday’s John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown.
The two and a half mile Grade 1 contest will be the fourth time the pair have met and marks the anniversary of their first clash when Flemenstar claimed the top spot in 2012. Since then Flemenstar finished third in the Lexus Chase one spot ahead of his rival however tables were turned in the Hennessey at Leopardstown last February when Sir Des Champs sought revenge. Flemenstar has the benefit of one successful run this season whereas Sir Des Champs has not been seen since winning the Punchestown Gold Cup last April.
Looking forward to the race Flemenstar’s trainer Tony Martin said: “At this stage the intention is that he will run at Punchestown on Sunday. I’ve been happy with him since Navan and We will give him some work in the morning and take it from there. Of course it would be great if the result was the same as last year but it is a very good race. He could finish third in it and still have run a cracker!”
Champion trainer Willie Mullins is very happy with his Gold Cup hopeful but has some reservations about the trip “We are very pleased with him and he will run in the Durkan chase on Sunday.
“I would imagine that the two and a half mile trip is probably a little sharp for him but it is an ideal start over a lovely track with nice fences”. Speaking of his future campaign Mullins continued “We hope to maintain Sir Des Champs form from last year and if we tweak a few things he will be very competitive come March,” explained Mullins.
Also among the remaining entries is 2011 winner Rubi Light, Star Best For Racing Coverage Chase winner Toner D’Oudairies and Arvika Ligeonnaire winner of the Grade 1 Ryanair Novice Chase at the Punchestown Festival.
The Grade 1 John Durkan Memorial Chase boasts an extremely impressive roll of honour with Carvills’ Hill, Dorans Pride, Imperial Call, Kicking King, Beef or Salmon and Florida Pearl among previous winners. It is commonly regarded as an excellent Gold Cup indicator.
Admission for Sunday’s showdown is just €10 or €7 for students and seniors. All children under 14 race for free. The first race goes to post at 12.30pm.
For further information please visit www.punchestown.com or call Punchestown on 045-897704.