Mullins mounts strong challenge on Auteuil highlight

By Sports Desk May 17, 2023

Willie Mullins is preparing for a French foray at Auteuil this weekend as he ponders targeting Galopin Des Champs at the meeting in the future.

The trainer was once again crowned Irish champion for the 2022-23 season, as well as enjoying multiple victories at the major spring festivals.

Though both the Irish and English seasons ended last month and are in a relatively quiet spell as the Flat takes over, there are still significant prizes to be won across the Channel.

This weekend Auteuil hosts the Grand Steeple-Chase De Paris meeting and Mullins is sending a strong squad of nine runners.

Two of those travelling, Franco De Port and Carefully Selected, will contest the ‘Grand Steep’ itself, with other familiar names such as Kilcruit, Haut En Couleurs, Klassical Dream and Asterion Forlonge entered in the supporting events.

Mullins faces tough opposition in the headline contest as his nephew Emmet Mullins has entered 2022 Grand National hero Noble Yeats, but the race has long been an aim for the Carlow trainer and he is keen to take the trophy home at some point in his career.

“There’s a great challenge from Ireland this year with Noble Yeats, he’s my nephew’s horse and he’s going to put in a big show there,” he said.

“It’s something I want to win, I’ve been trying to look for a horse that’s good enough to win it.

“I should have probably targeted it before now because I have so many French horses,  I’m just going through my runners here and seven out of the nine horses are French.

“I should have done this before, however, we’ve always concentrated on Cheltenham and Punchestown, so to get one cherry ripe over this trip at the end of the season is a bit tougher.”

Auteuil was at one point the intended target for Galopin Des Champs, a fantastic winner of the Cheltenham Gold Cup who then re-routed to the Punchestown Gold Cup where he was second.

Though his campaign eventually headed in a different direction, Mullins still has the meeting in mind for the French-bred chaser.

He said: “I’d love to bring Galopin Des Champs over and indeed he was probably en-route there, but after winning the Gold Cup at Cheltenham, we decided he’d probably better come back to Punchestown and after that I thought I should give him a break.

“He’s done everything right for us this season, possibly some other year we might bring him over. He’s a horse I’d love to see over there.”

Related items

  • Shuwari commanding plenty of attention on Newmarket return Shuwari commanding plenty of attention on Newmarket return

    Shuwari returns from a two-month absence in the Al Basti Equiworld, Dubai Rockfel Stakes at Newmarket on Friday, with her form being franked in some style during that lay-off.

    Ollie Sangster’s filly followed up a Newbury novice stakes success by getting the better of Fallen Angel in the Listed-class Star Stakes at Sandown towards the end of July.

    That runner-up has since gone on to land the Sweet Solera at Newmarket and the Group One Moyglare Stud Stakes at the Curragh.

    “We’re looking forward to it,” said Sangster. “Her first two runs were pretty straightforward, she looks a lovely filly and I think the better ground will bring out the best in her.

    “We wanted to run her in the Prestige at Goodwood, but she suffered a small setback which ruled that out.

    “So she’s not as battle-hardened as some of the other runners in the race, but that can’t be helped and we’re hopeful she can carry on improving.”

    Aidan O’Brien’s Ylang Ylang bids to redeem her lofty reputation in this Group Two contest over seven furlongs after disappointing in the Moyglare.

    The Frankel filly was made favourite for next year’s 1000 Guineas following a couple of convincing victories, but finished last of nine at the Curragh earlier this month.

    Carla’s Way was a beaten favourite in the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot after impressing on her Doncaster debut, but showed the benefit of a wind operation last time out.

    The daughter of Starspangledbanner was prominent for a long way when second to Darnation in the Prestige Fillies’ Stakes at Goodwood.

    Ed Crisford said: “She ran a nice race at Goodwood when finishing second on ground that probably didn’t suit her. She comes into this in good form, I think she’s just come on a bit for that run, and the going should be spot on for her this time.”

    Spiritual was weak in the market before her Leicester debut and showed signs of greenness early on, but overcame that inexperience in fine fashion.

    John and Thady Gosden’s charge is bred to stay and the €280,000 purchase galloped on strongly to win going away.

    Alshinfarah claimed wins at Doncaster and Haydock before finishing a close third behind Freville in a Group Three at ParisLongchamp.

    Jim Crowley’s mount made the running over a mile and was only headed in the closing stages, so dropping back down in distance could suit.

    Zenjabeela gets a deserved step up in class following strikes at Southwell and Beverley, showing a good attitude to wear down subsequent Ayr scorer Miss Roberts at the Yorkshire track.

    Carolina Reaper was well beaten in the Sweet Solera after an emphatic success on the July course here but recovered to secure some black type in Germany last time out.

    Charlie Johnston’s charge battled on well to edge out Schutzenzauber by a neck in a Group Three contest at Baden-Baden.

    Marcella has a Chester win to her credit but was 50-1 when fifth of six in a Haydock Listed event.

  • Hukum hopes dealt a blow with unfavourable wide draw in Arc Hukum hopes dealt a blow with unfavourable wide draw in Arc

    Hukum will have to overcome an unfavourable draw in stall 14 if he is to triumph in Sunday’s Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at ParisLongchamp.

    The Owen Burrows-trained six-year-old won the King George VI And Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot when last seen in July, having beaten Derby hero Desert Crown in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes at Sandown, when both horses were returning from long absences.

    However, Hukum did not enjoy much luck in Thursday’s draw ceremony, with only Simca Mille on his outside in a 15-strong field.

    Two winners have emerged from stall 14 since 2000, with Frankie Dettori producing a memorable ride aboard Golden Horn in 2015 and Dalakhani winning under Christophe Soumillon in 2003.

    Hukum’s big-race pilot Jim Crowley will now be studying the tapes of the heroics of his weighing-room colleagues ahead of his ride aboard the Shadwell-owned contender in the French capital.

    “I’m sure Jim will be doing all that, but there’s absolutely nothing we can do,” said Angus Gold, racing manager for the owners.

    “Golden Horn had a lot of tactical speed, he went forward and stayed out wide and got a brilliant ride.

    “There is no point making a fuss about it as there is nothing we can do.

    “We’ll just have to work around it, see how he breaks and go forward and hope to slot in somewhere.”

    Ante-post favourite Ace Impact, winner of the Prix du Jockey Club for Jean-Claude Rouget, enjoyed much better fortune in stall eight, with St Leger winner Continuous, who was supplemented at a cost of €120,000 on Wednesday, next to him in stall seven for Aidan O’Brien.

    The Ralph Beckett-trained Westover, beaten just a head by Hukum at Ascot, will be on the inside in stall one, with Free Wind – Dettori’s final Arc mount – in three for John and Thady Gosden.

    Bay Bridge, representing Sir Michael Stoute, completes the British and Irish challenge in stall six under Richard Kingscote.

    German Derby and Prix Niel victor Fantastic Moon was also supplemented and he will be in stall 12, with fellow German raiders Mr Hollywood and Sisfahan in 10 and 13 respectively.

    Prix Niel second Feed The Flame and Japanese runner Through Seven Seas are also drawn low in two and five, with Haya Zark (four), Onesto (nine) and Place Du Carrousel (11) rounding out the field.

    Coral trimmed Ace Impact to 100-30 from 7-2 following the draw, while Hukum was edged out to 5s from 9-2.

    The firm’s David Stevens said: “Ace Impact’s connections can have few complaints about drawing stall eight, and it’s a draw that will probably ensure the unbeaten colt is sent off favourite on Sunday, especially as his biggest market rival, Hukum, appears to have been done few favours with a wide draw in 14.”

    The ground at ParisLongchamp is expected to be good to soft, with a reported 25 per cent chance of light rain on either Thursday or Friday and no watering planned.

  • Dettori defends Barney Curley crown at storm-hit Bellewstown Dettori defends Barney Curley crown at storm-hit Bellewstown

    Frankie Dettori enjoyed a convincing victory over Willie Mullins in a storm-reduced Barney Curley Charity Cup at Bellewstown.

    Despite free admission being sponsored by the Irish National Bookmakers Association, it was only the hardiest of racegoers who braved treacherous conditions caused by Storm Agnes.

    However, they were rewarded with a competitive afternoon of action on a day organised to help raise funds for the Direct Aid for Africa (DAFA) charity championed by the late Curley.

    Jamie Spencer was unable to make the journey over due to the weather, and Dettori – also successful 12 months ago – declared: “I can’t believe the boys are still doing it.

    “I take my hat off to them and the staff and the guys taking the horses (around) and the horses themselves. It is a good effort.

    “We raised money at golf yesterday and today we are racing. This day in the calendar is set in stone.”

    Mullins had hoped the wind and rain would suit his squad, declaring: “We are going to win – this is jumping weather!”

    But Team Dettori established a 31-10 lead after the opening contest and that proved enough for victory as the second leg fell to deteriorating ground conditions, along with the day’s seventh and final event.

    It was apt that Mogwli came with a wet sail to win the first section of the Barney Curley Charity Cup under Wesley Joyce for Willie McCreery.

    Rampage, partnered by Robert Whearty instead of Spencer, made it a one-two for Dettori’s team by plugging on for second, with the front-running Sunday Sovereign getting Team Mullins on the scoresheet in third.

    Ampeson and Imposing Supreme also contributed to the Mullins tally in fourth and fifth, with Mercurial securing the final point for Dettori in sixth.

    “It is tough out there, but I knew he would stay going,” said Joyce. “Thanks to Frankie for picking me.”

    Elsewhere on the card, Miss McHenry kept on well to grind out victory in the one-mile claiming maiden for Ger Lyons and Colin Keane.

    Assistant trainer Shane Lyons reflected on the prevailing conditions when stating: “Sure is survival of the fittest!

    “She ran over a mile and a quarter before, so we knew that would stand her in good stead. That’s the minimum trip that she wants.

    “She goes on the ground, she is by Starspangledbanner and would like that ground. She should get another outing over a mile and a quarter. If not, she could be one for summer jumping.”

    Manhattan Dandy was given a positive front-running ride by local jockey Whearty when making all in the Seamus Murphy Memorial Handicap over a mile.

    Trainer Thomas Coyle said: “He ran well the last day, so we were confident enough as he had form on the ground.

    “The last day we landed in front, but it actually may be the right way to ride him around these tighter tracks anyway.

    “With Rob claiming 5lb off him, we knew he had a nice light weight on his back. He was in great form at home and I couldn’t believe it on Monday when he got drawn one, I thought all the stars were aligned.

    “It is a little family team, but it means a lot. I’m in Batterstown just beside Fairyhouse, so it is literally half an hour up the road. There might be a few celebrations tonight!”

    Edward Lynam’s Keke kept on well to wear down Rathbranchurch in the Grimes Maiden over five furlongs and give Keane a double on the day.

    “He had a good run the last day and Eddie said once you get him relaxed he is very straightforward,” said the jockey.

    “In the first furlong, he was on it a fraction, but he switched off and travelled through it well and was probably only doing enough when he got there.”

    Joyce also made it a double when Mickey The Steel travelled strongly throughout the Colm Quinn BMW Handicap before drawing clear of Transcendental in emphatic fashion.

    “That’s 26 winners now and my first double – good to get that on the board,” stated the rider. “He loves that ground and he was just keeping going and going. He did it well.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.