Tuesday 24 October 2017

Ruby makes switch to Stars

Thousand Stars will have Ruby Walsh in the plate as the Willie Mullins-trained grey bids to defend his crown in tomorrow's French Champion Hurdle at Auteuil.

The eight-year-old -- which grabbed his first Grade One prize in this extended three-mile-one-furlong contest 12 months ago -- had Paul Townend up when winning last month's recognised trial, the Prix La Barka.

On that occasion, Walsh was aboard stable companion Zaidpour, which finished well to take second spot; now Townend will swap mounts with the former champion jockey.

Walsh's sister Katie takes the ride on Mullins' third runner, Mourad.

"All of them are in good order and hopefully Thousand Stars and Zaidpour will run the same race as they did the last day," said the Closutton handler.

"It was Zaidpour's first run in France, so you'd like to think he'd have learnt from it. I probably would be surprised if Zaidpour beat Thousand Stars, though. I don't think Zaidpour showed himself off the last day and hopefully he'll do it this time.

"Thousand Stars is such a professional around there and he should run very well, but it's not an easy race. I'm told two of the French fillies are very good, Nikita Du Berlais and Formosa Joana Has. They'll be hard to beat."

The Robert Collet-trained Nikita Du Berlais beat Formosa Joana Has in April's Prix Leon Rambaud to secure her seventh consecutive victory, but the mare does have to prove her stamina.

The other Grade One on the card is the Prix Alain Du Breil for four-year-olds, which has attracted four Irish raiders, headed by Dermot Weld's Punchestown winner Hisaabaat. The Mullins-trained Ut De Sivola succumbed by just half a length to Hisaabaat in the Champion Four-Year-Old Hurdle and is joined by stablemate Loch Ard.

Also featuring in the 11-runner field is the Tony Martin-trained Wingtips, third behind Hisaabaat and Ut De Sivola at Punchestown.

Meanwhile, the Gordon Elliott horsebox makes its customary trip to Perth tomorrow as the Meath trainer sends a couple of runners to one of his favourite venues. While Elliott's Definite All Star might struggle to get the better of Blazin White Face in the novice handicap chase, his Lord Redsgirth should be able to edge out Sublime Talent in the two-mile novice chase.

Jason Maguire is aboard both of those runners and the Grand National winning jockey is also on the stable's Raajih, which is a very interesting contender in the novice handicap hurdle.

Elliott runs two in the featured Aviva City Of Perth Gold Cup, with Maguire getting the leg-up on Cottage Oak and Timmy Murphy aboard Trendelenburg, but both will do well to get the better of Sue Smith's Scottish Grand National runner-up Auroras Encoure.

Irish Independent

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