Be prepared for Flemenstar jockey change at Cheltenham Festival

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Which race Flemenstar will tackle is becoming one of big unanswered questions ahead of the Cheltenham Festival, but that does not appear the only storyline in the soap opera relating to the eight-year-old.

For the second race in succession, Flemenstar failed to stay 3m, this time falling short in the Irish Hennessy having previously faded in the Lexus Chase.

Over lesser distances, Flemenstar was previously ridden from the front, making the most of his jumping and allowing him to put others under pressure from an earlier stage of a race.

However, with his stamina far from guaranteed over 3m, waiting tactics have been employed in the hope of helping the horse see out the trip.

This didn’t work in the Lexus Chase so it was a surprise to see an ever more exaggerated hold-up ride in the Hennessy; at least if he would have faded attempting to front run, connections would have learnt something new.

Owner Stephen Curran is reportedly still keen to send the horse to the Cheltenham Gold Cup, but staying 3m2f with a steep uphill finish looks an impossible task, even if this is the most lucrative Festival prize on offer.

Trainer Peter Casey does seem more realistic with his thoughts and would rather the horse tackled the Ryanair Chase over 2m4f or even the Queen Mother Champion Chase over 2m.

His best chance would almost certainly come in the former, but with the Ryanair not carrying the same prestige, the Champion Chase may be more likely.

Although 1/3 favourite Sprinter Sacre would take a vast amount of beating, meeting a horse that stays slightly further and is a bold jumper would easily represent his biggest test yet.

Flemenstar is 4/1 to win the Champion Chase and 3/1 to triumph in the Ryanair, which goes to show how tough it is to pick his Festival path.

One thing that may make this easier is attempting to work out which race of the two Sizing Europe will go for, with both he and Flemenstar regularly ridden by Andrew Lynch.

There is talk that a different jockey may get more out of Flemenstar and by running him against Sizing Europe, Lynch obviously couldn’t ride both.

Lynch would ride Sizing Europe in that case and this would mean Flemenstar is a dream spare ride for somebody else, although talking to Newsboy from the Daily Mirror, Casey was not naming names as to who this jockey would be.

All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date

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