Sir Des Champs takes Grade 1 victory in the Irish Hennessy
Sir Des Champs got the better of a thrilling match with Flemenstar in the Grade 1 Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown.
Last Updated: 09/02/13 4:12pm
Willie Mullins' seven-year-old, winner of the Jewson Chase at last year's Cheltenham Festival, pulled out all the stops to deny Peter Casey's stable star by a couple of lengths.
The winner's stable-mate Quel Esprit jumped beautifully in front for the first circuit but he was under pressure after jumping three out where Sir Des Champs went to the lead.
He was being ridden more vigorously than Flemenstar, whose jockey Andrew Lynch had settled him in rear in a change of tactics to try and ensure his suspect stamina lasted.
But it would again prove to be disappointment at three miles for the smooth jumping eight-year-old, who was asked to quicken after jumping the last in with a decent chance.
The response was much as it had been in defeat in the Lexus last time out, where he also seemed not to last the trip, and Davy Russell punched his partner to a game success.
Joncol was outpaced down the back side but stayed on well to take a distant third place, 23 lengths behind the main protagonists.
Mullins said: "Davy did the right thing injecting pace when going to join Quel Esprit four out. He knew Flemenstar was going well behind him and wanted to make it a real staying test.
"The ground wasn't as bad as it was for the Lexus and because of that Sir Des Champs jumped a lot better. Even better ground again at Cheltenham would suit him well."
The Cheltenham Gold Cup is now off Flemenstar's agenda, though, as Casey said: "He had every chance and was out-stayed. There'll be no Gold Cup for him and we'll have to decide whether he goes for the Champion Chase or the Ryanair."
Mullins, who had earlier won with Boston Bob and Champagne Fever, went on to make it a four-timer with front-running Tennis Cap (6/1) in the paddypower.com iPhone Fast Bet Handicap Hurdle.