Flemenstar ran out an impressive winner from Sir Des Champs in the John Durkan Memorial Punchestown Chase.
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The absence of Bog Warrior left a field of three to go to post for the two-and-a-half-mile Grade One contest but it was a high-class field with the smart Rubi Light the outsider behind the two rising stars.
Flemenstar had won all six starts since finishing second on his chase debut and had two Gradfe One wins to his name while Sir Des Champs was unbeaten since joining Willie Mullins from France and had won twice at the Cheltenham Festival.
Andrew Lynch set out to make every yard aboard the even-money favourite and the order had barely changed with less than a mile to run.
Davy Russell appeared to be asking Sir Des Champs for a little more effort with five still to jump and the six year old was hard ridden to join issue at the head of the straight.
Lynch, however, was relatively motionless aboard Peter Casey's stable star and the pair readily opened up a telling advantage on the run to the second last.
The Flemensfirth gelding was perfect at that obstacle - as he had been at all those before - and again at the last and crossed the line clear of the field to confirm his reputation as one of the brightest stars of the chasing game.
Sky Bet price both the first and second home at 6/1 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup with Flemenstar a 5/1 chance for the shorter Ryanair Chase at the March Festival.
In the immediate aftermath, Casey raised the possibility of running in the Dial-A-Bet Chase over two miles and a furlong at Christmas, but that option was later ruled out as he is reportedly unlikely to be supplemented with owner Stephen Curran keen to try three miles next.
"I'm delighted with that, and he's still not ready!" said Casey.
"He'll go to Leopardstown at Christmas and will get three miles. I've never had any doubt about him getting three miles.
"The Gold Cup is still the plan long term."
Lynch said: "He was good, he did it well.
"It wasn't ideal making it but none of the other two wanted to go on. I just thought he'd be better off being in front than hacking in behind.
"With Bog Warrior not running I thought Rubi Light might have gone on as he's just a big galloper but I didn't mind making it.
"He didn't seem to be stopping at the finish so hopefully we'll find out more over Christmas [over three miles]."
Mullins said of Sir Des Champs: "I'd rather have won but Flemenstar took the race by the scruff of the neck. It was a good performance and he deserved it.
"My fellow ran a good solid race, and there is a lot to look forward to. He will probably run at Christmas and I will have to chat to the owners.
"We don't have anything to complain about, I don't think, we were staying on well at the finish, he jumped well enough and it was his first run of the season.
"It's harder when you are going around the outside and there's nothing to keep you racing.
"Sir Des Champs' natural way of running is very quiet so I think we'll take a fair bit out of it, there's lots of big races to be aimed at between now and the end of the season.
"I don't think three miles will be a problem, he galloped all the way to the line.
"He's entered in the Lexus, King George and the Dial-A-Bet. He could run in the two-mile race to get further experience, but we will have to see how he comes out of this and discuss it."