Vie is Bel of the ball in Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris

Bel La Vie won a thrilling renewal of the Gras Savoye Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris at Auteuil yesterday.

The Guillaume Macaire-trained seven-year-old fended off the close attentions of Shannon Rock to emerge victorious in a blockbuster finish to the esteemed Grade One over three miles and five furlongs.

Bertrand Lestrade’s partner had looked beaten once his game pursuer edged clear along the run-in.

But Bel La Vie (11-4 favourite) was in a particularly belligerent mood and fought back under intense pressure to take top honours.

Mid Dancer has won this race three times, including in the last two seasons, and finished an honourable third.

Philip Carberry finished third aboard Victoire Des Borde in the other Grade One on the card, the Gras Savoye Patrimoine Prix Ferdinand Dufaure.

The Irish-born, French-based, jockey finished strongly aboard the Francois-Marie Cottin-trained four-year-old but had to be content with minor honours.

Storm Of Saintly (9-14) fared best of all to provide Macaire with another big winner.

Laskaline finished third.

Willie Mullins dominated the Gras Savoye Pasteurdon Prix Questarabad when Blood Cotil outgunned Diakali in the Grade Two over hurdles.

The latter was always to the fore under Ruby Walsh, but was let down by a wayward leap at the last.

This helped the Paul Townend-ridden Blood Cotil seize the day along the run-in at odds of 8-1.

Le Grand Luce (7-4 favourite) was third, with fellow Mullins inmate Viconte Du Noyer taking fifth spot.

Celestial Halo (10-1) turned in a magnificent display to win the Gras Savoye Corporate Life Prix La Barka.

The nine-year-old, trained by Paul Nicholls and owned by Andy Stewart, shaped best in the torrential rainfall to claim his first victory since January 2012.

Last season’s World Hurdle runner-up was a close-up second as Lord Prestige led after the last, but Daryl Jacob’s mount showed characteristic bravery to get up at the line.

Thousand Stars, who won this Grade Two 12 months ago, appeared very unhappy early on but stayed on to take fourth spot, with Tidara Angel in third.

Meanwhile Bryan Cooper is due to start physio shortly as he works towards what he hopes will be a return from injury before the Listowel Festival in September.

Cooper was partnering the Tony Martin-trained Tepalo in the Weatherbys Beginners Chase at Down Royal on May 6 when he came to grief, suffering a broken left femur.

One of the emerging stars of the National Hunt scene, Cooper shot into the limelight when riding three winners at the Cheltenham Festival, while he was also on target with First Lieutenant at the Grand National meeting at Aintree.

Cooper said: “I had the operation on my leg last Tuesday and it went well. I’m not in much pain and looking back on it now, it could have been a lot worse.

“My leg isn’t in a cast so I can walk around on the crutches which is great as the muscle in my leg won’t be wearing away.

“Hopefully I’ll start physio in the next few weeks. I won’t be back for Galway but I do hope to be back for Listowel and any time before Listowel would be a bonus.”

Ger Lyons admits the rest of the season will be a bonus for Lily’s Angel after she claimed her first Group Three win at Lingfield.

Now a winner of 10 of her 21 races, that was her first at Pattern level and Lyons will raise her sights in the hope she can reach even greater heights after her win in the Chartwell Stakes, with the Duke Of Cambridge Stakes (Windsor Forest) at Royal Ascot next.

“The plan was always to win a Group Three with her this season so now we’ve done that we can aim at the stars,” said Lyons.

“She’s in other Group Threes and I’m not turning my nose up at them, but we can afford to look at races like the Windsor Forest, a Grade One at Del Mar and the Matron Stakes.”

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