Ruby puts his faith in Zaidpour
Ruby Walsh has opted for Zaidpour over four other Willie Mullins-trained horses in tomorrow's Grade Two Prix La Barka Hurdle (2.55) at Auteuil.
In last year's Barka, a leading trial for next month's French Champion Hurdle, Thousand Stars took second before securing the champion trainer his third triumph in the main event under Walsh three weeks later. This time Paul Townend partners the grey, which finished six lengths behind Zaidpour when third to Hurricane Fly at the Punchestown Festival.
Mourad, third to Quevega at Punchestown and fourth in the Grade One at Auteuil last June, is the mount of Walsh's sister Katie. Davy Condon is on Mikael D'Haguenet, while the Hennessy Gold Cup hero Quel Esprit reverts to the smaller obstacles under David Casey. Paul Nicholls' Five Dream, with Ryan Mahon up, is also among the 18-strong line-up.
In a Grade Three for four-year-olds at 4.55, Walsh rides facile Punchestown scorer Loch Ard for Mullins, Townend is on Darroun and Katie Walsh gets the leg-up on Gorgeous Sixty. In between, both Ruby Walsh and Casey have picked up local spins in the Grand Steeplechase de Paris (3.35).
Walsh is aboard Remember Rose for Jean-Paul Gallorini in the Grade One, and Casey rides Chavoy for Thomas Trapenard.
Elsewhere, Kentucky Derby winner I'll Have Another will bid to confirm the Classic form as he clashes again with runner-up Bodemeister in this evening's Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.