The Irish Hennessy Gold Cup is one of the last big trial races of the season for the Gold Cup at Cheltenham and the race on Saturday is shaping up to be a classic. Perhaps the two best chasers in Ireland in the form of Flemenstar and Sir Des Champs are set to clash once again at Leopardstown before connections prepare for the Cheltenham Festival. At this stage it is Flemenstar who has had the upper hand in the duel but it is Sir Des Champs who remains a shorter price in the betting for the big race at the Festival. Willie Mullins has been aiming Sir Des Champs at the Gold Cup all season and the horse always seems to save his best for Prestbury Park in the Spring. Sir Des Champs has won at the Festival for the last two years on the bounce which is a major bonus while his stamina is tried and tested at the trip which does put him in with a great shout in the Gold Cup. That cannot be said of Flemenstar who is full of class as we know but connections and punters have been left scratching their heads when trying to find his best trip with the Festival in mind.
Last time out we saw Flemenstar tire into third place in the Lexus Chase over Christmas on his first attempt at the three miles. Trainer Peter Casey has said he will run him over three miles again in the Irish Hennessy this weekend with his performance there likely to decide his aim at Cheltenham. If the horse does curl up again after the last we are likely to see Flemenstar head to the Ryanair Chase next month over the slightly shorter 2m5f trip. One thing we do know is that Sir Des Champs will be plugging on again with the extra furlong up the hill in the Gold Cup likely to play to his strengths regardless of the result on Sunday. One other horse to consider in the Irish Hennessy Gold Cup this weekend is Quel Esprit who we all remember winning this race last season before he picked up an injury which denied him a chance in the Gold Cup. The Willie Mullins horse is likely to come on for the outing at the weekend but a decent run could well book his place in the Gold cup next month with a tilt at the Grand National in April also still a possibility despite his habit of making jumping mistakes.