Mullins scores in France as super Stars gets nose in front
Willie Mullins made amends for Max Dynamite’s heartbreaking defeat in the Melbourne Cup last week with another stunning international Grade One raid in France yesterday.
Thousand Stars went one better than Max Dynamite did in Melbourne to collect Grand Prix d’Automne at Auteuil for trainer Mullins and jockey Ruby Walsh — and a first prize of €233,000 for owners the Hammer and Trowel Syndicate.
Now an 11-year-old, Thousand Stars cemented his legendary status at Auteuil, a venue where he took the Grande Course de Haies in 2011 and 2012. He was second in this race last June and Mullins tuned up his charge with a couple of runs at Merano and Tipperary, where he was fifth in a Grade Two contest over two miles.
In his fifth win at Auteuil and third at the highest level, Thousand Stars (5/1) denied Lizzie Kelly and Aubusson a first Grade One win in a blanket finish from Hippomene in third as the three contenders had their head in front over the closing few strides. The judge took several minutes to separate the finishers, eventually giving Thousand Stars the verdict by a nose.
Elsewhere, Nicky Henderson could not hide his delight as Simonsig and Bobs Worth made their belated comebacks in the Betfred Hurdle at Aintree. While the result was a bit of a surprise with Bobs Worth defeating Simonsig in a tight finish, the Seven Barrows trainer was pleased the pair had passed their tests.
All eyes were on Simonsig, which was having his first start since winning the 2013 Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival, but Bobs Worth (11/1) took the honours. Nico De Boinville made full use of Bobs Worth’s stamina on the rain-softened ground and the 2013 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero got home a length and a half to the good.
“It’s been a long way back for both of them from the wilderness, but we’ve made a bit of progress,” said Henderson. “Simonsig was fantastic. Barry (Geraghty) said he got tired turning in, he was empty at the second last and he had to hang on to him.
“It was probably a bit far for him in that ground, but Bobs Worth stays. The idea was to get a run into him before the Hennessy. We haven’t got a plan for Simonsig. I’d like to go back over fences. We’re going to try to bring the third leg of this triumvirate (Sprinter Sacre) out next weekend (in the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham).”
At Wincanton, Irving made handsome amends for his last-flight fall in the race last year when storming home for Paul Nicholls and Nick Scholfield in the StanJames.com Elite Hurdle at Wincanton.
Sunday Indo Sport