Mid Dancer: made history by winning a third Grand Steeple-Chase de ParisPICTURE: Martin Lynch
Mid Dancer scales the summit for the third time
Report: France, Sunday
Auteuil: Gras Savoye Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris (Group 1 chase) 3m5f, 5yo+
MID DANCER (Christophe Aubert/Sylvain Dehez) created French turf history when landing a thirdGrand Steeple-Chase at the end of an incident-packed edition.
In doing so he becomes only the third horse to win the French version of the Gold Cup, a race which was first run in 1874.
For much of the race such a triumph appeared unlikely as Ruby Walsh took the field along at a relentless pace aboard 2009 winner Remember Rose.
Jean-Paul Gallorini's stalwart had perhaps just begun to shorten his stride approaching the big open ditch in the back straight when the pair came to grief there.
Among the pursuing pack no fewer than four came down including the well-fancied Rubi Ball and the Emmanuel Clayeux-trained pair Net Lovely and Rhialco, both of whom were travelling ominously well.
"He was 12th or 15th in the back straight and he's a remarkable horse to have the resources to come back from there," said Herve Barjot, racingmanager to Mid Dancer's owners Pegasus Farms.
Sure enough Sylvain Dehez picked his way through the chaos and when leader Pistolet Rouge began to empty between the final two fences, it became a duel at the end of which Mid Dancer was able to edge ahead of Shannon Rock.
"He's a horse out of the ordinary but even so I never imagined he could win this race for a third time, five years after his first success," said an elated Barjot. "Sylvain rode a brilliant race because he was a long way back after making a mistake at the water jump. But he gave him time to regain his rhythm and then chose the perfect moment to attack.
Mid Dancer is two years older than any of his 18 rivals who went to post but Barjot wouldn't speculate on the horse's future.
"Let's let today sink in and then we'll see," he said when asked if the hero of the hour would race on.
Also on Sunday
Auteuil: Prix de Longchamp (Group 3 hurdle) 2m3½f, 4yo
After dominating the finish of the Prix La Barka Willie Mullins was out of luck with his three challengers in this prep race for the Group 1 Prix Alain du Breil.
Loch Ard finished best of a trio of runners who never threatened to get involved in the finish, after which Mullins said: "They were very disappointing. I'll have to go home and think but I'm just worried why they ran badly. That's not their form."
Esmondo (Guillaume Macaire/Bertrand Lestrade) got the better of a real battle with Chegei Has.
"He was in front too soon but he won and that's the main thing," said a relieved Macaire of the 5-2 favourite.
Auteuil: Prix Ferdinand Dufaure (Group 1 chase) 2m5½f, 4yo
Teejay Flying (Thomas Trapenard/Alain Chitray) caused a major shock when putting an end to the unbeaten record of Saint Palois over fences.
On only his second start over fences Teejay Flying was soon setting a decent pace and was value for his three length success.
The odds-on Saint Palois fought gallantly in second under David Cottin, with the pair pulling 12 lengths clear of Carlain in third.