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Mullins sees Stars as Halo takes win

Willie Mullins sent six runners to Auteuil in France yesterday and the trainer didn't leave empty-handed, although Thousand Stars could only finish a never-nearer fourth in the Prix La Barka.

Mullins had three runners in the Prix Questarabad, a lucrative Grade Three for four-year-olds, and it was his apparent second string Blood Cotil who outdid his stable companion and Grade One winner Diakali by a length.

The champion trainer also saddled Viconte Du Noyer to finish fifth, giving him a successful trip to France after what had been a very fruitful season back at home.

However, it was Thousand Stars who was sent off the 6/4 favourite in his bid to win a second Prix La Barka, but from a long way out in this year's renewal Ruby Walsh seemed to be sending out the distress signals.

The grey stayed on probably best of all in the extended 2m5f contest but without ever challenging the winner, the Paul Nicholls-trained Celestial Halo.

Ridden by Daryl Jacob, Celestial Halo was always fairly prominent as he franked the form of Charles Byrnes' Solwhit, who had twice beaten him at Cheltenham and Aintree.

Mullins' other two runners, Zaidpour and So Young, failed to feature in the Prix La Barka, but the trainer did have a double as the classy mare Tarla justified being odds-on favourite in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Mares' Chase at Limerick.

The French recruit was ridden by Emmet Mullins, who replaced Declan Lavery after a nasty fall at Kilbeggan on Friday night, and they cruised to a nine-and-a-half-length success, her seventh in the care of Mullins.

Local trainer Michael Hourigan and jockey Adrian Heskin enjoyed a double as Tropical Three won the mares' maiden hurdle and, later in the day, Whats Happening also proved to be a winning favourite in the beginners' chase.

Meanwhile, the feature race at Navan was won by the Dermot Weld-trained Voleuse De Coeurs, which beat Missunited by two lengths in the Vintage Crop Stakes over 1m6f. Weld suggested he will mull over his options for the talented filly who won last year's Irish Cesarewitch and is entered in the Ascot Gold Cup.