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Mullins' unbeaten Gauloise has price cut for Festival bid

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An ecstatic Emma Lavelle (R) with husband Barry Fenton after training Paisley Park to win at Ascot on Saturday. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

An ecstatic Emma Lavelle (R) with husband Barry Fenton after training Paisley Park to win at Ascot on Saturday. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

An ecstatic Emma Lavelle (R) with husband Barry Fenton after training Paisley Park to win at Ascot on Saturday. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Gauloise maintained her unbeaten record with victory in the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Boreen Belle Mares Novice Hurdle at Thurles.

The French bumper winner made an impressive Irish debut for Willie Mullins over the course and distance last month, and was the 4/5 favourite on her return to Co Tipperary for this Listed event.

Having travelled strongly in the hands of champion jockey Paul Townend, Gauloise hit the front between the final two flights and was always doing enough after the last to hold Mighty Blue at bay by three lengths.

The winner carries the colours of owner Kenny Alexander, whose star mare, Honeysuckle, won this race two years ago.

Mullins said of Gauloise: "At home, she has looked like she improved and she has shown me that at the track. Her jumping was good enough, too.

"I think she is going to improve again and the minimum trip is no problem to her.

Response

"Paul said she took off with him after the second-last and he wasn't expecting that sort of response. He thinks she had to show stamina to stay after opening up her lead - so, all in all, it's looking good for her."

Paddy Power cut Gauloise to 6/1 from 10/1 for the Mares' Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

Mullins added: "I imagine she might have one more run before Cheltenham, but she looks like she is good enough to go up in grade; her next run will, hopefully, copperfasten that."

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Escaria Ten also obliged for favourite-backers in the opening Irish Stallion Farms EBF Beginners' Chase.

Gordon Elliott's 6/5 shot cruised to a 20-length success under Jack Kennedy, who said afterwards: "He put in a great round of jumping, and he is a nice horse. Hopefully he can keep progressing from that.

"He ran well in Fairyhouse the last day over two-five, and the step up to three miles today really suited him."

Elliott and Kennedy doubled up with Frontal Assault (2/1 favourite) in the Horse & Jockey Hotel Rated Novice Hurdle.

Kennedy added: "He is a big galloper and stays all day, but is just lairy enough when he is in front. When something came to him, he pulled it out again."

Donagh Meyler steered Eoin Doyle's 14/1 shot Key Commander to a victory in the Molony Cup Handicap Chase, before the Joseph O'Brien-trained Jack Dillinger (6/1) recorded a narrow win over Scheu Time in the Adare Manor Opportunity Handicap Chase under Oakley Brown.

O'Brien's assistant, Brendan Powell, said: "It is nice to get his head in front again. He was a very decent hurdler and he obviously likes this place, as his first run this year was when he finished second here."

Paul O'Flynn and Darragh O'Keeffe combined to land the Boomerang.ie Handicap Hurdle with 7/2 market leader West Cork Wildway.

"I shouldn't have run him the last day in Mallow, as the ground was too good for him, but you live and learn, and it was nice to get another win up before Christmas," said O'Flynn.

"He is not the biggest horse, but is unbelievable to jump, and I'll be looking forward to him when he jumps a fence. When he goes over fences, you'll see the real deal."

On Saturday, Paisley Park had his connections jumping for joy as he produced a power-packed finish to regain his Porsche Long Walk Hurdle crown at Ascot.

Emma Lavelle's 2019 Stayers' Hurdle winner looked beaten turning for home as he got caught out of his ground leaving the back straight.

At the head of affairs, Thyme Hill and Roksana were still apparently going powerfully, and Paisley Park looked to need a minor miracle.

Aidan Coleman went into overdrive jumping the last, but still seemed to have a mountain to climb, with Thyme Hill, which had seen off Roksana, looking sure to collect.

But Paisley Park (9-4), well known for his strong finishes, picked up impressively in the testing conditions to win by a neck, reversing form with the Philip Hobbs-trained runner-up from the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury.


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