Thousand Stars led home Zaidpour to give Willie Mullins a one-two in the Gras Savoye Hipcover Prix La Barka at Auteuil yesterday.
The valuable Grade Two event is seen as the final recognised trial before the French Champion Hurdle, which Thousand Stars also won last year.
A real favourite in the yard, Thousand Stars began his season in November winning the Morgiana Hurdle and ran some fantastic races in defeat behind the likes of Hurricane Fly and Big Buck’s.
Ridden by Paul Townend with Ruby Walsh preferring the claims of Zaidpour in very soft ground, Thousand Stars was always travelling nicely.
Vitray was allowed an early lead but when the field closed in Tanais Du Chenet led over the last.
Thousand Stars caught her after the last, however, and Zaidpour, who had been under pressure for some time, got up on the line for second.
Mid Dancer retained the Gras Savoye Grand Steeple-Chase De Paris in a thrilling finish from Shannon Rock.
Now an 11-year-old, Mid Dancer has twice run in England, finishing unplaced in the 2006 Arkle behind Voy Por Ustedes and chasing home Monet’s Garden at Carlisle the following October.
Something of a superstar in his homeland, he has now won over £3,000,000 in prize money for his connections.
Now trained by Christophe Aubert and ridden by Sylvain Dehez, Mid Dancer has won 25 of his 41 races and was landing the Grade One for a third time having also won it in 2007.
Mullins was out of luck with both Darroun and Gorgeous Sixty in the Gras Savoye Pasteurdon Prix De Longchamp.
Guillame Macaire’s Esmondo was giving away weight to all of his rivals but held on in a driving finish from Chegei Has.
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