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Willie Mullins

Trainer Willie Mullins could still have three runners in Saturday's race

  PICTURE:Edward Whitaker (  

Quevega to miss French Champion Hurdle

France: Quevega will not run in Saturday's Grande Course de Haies d'Auteuil (French Champion Hurdle) afterWillie Mullins elected to take her out at Tuesday's forfeit stage.

 "I wasn't all that happy with Quevega's last two bits of work, so we decided not to send her," said Mullins at Ascot on Tuesday. "She's off for a long break and will comeback in the New Year at Cheltenham, if not before then."

Thousand Stars will now head a three-pronged assault on the prize, which Mullins won in 1993 and again the following year.

"Thousand Stars, Mourad and Final Approach will all run in the French Champion Hurdle and I'll sort out jockey plans over the next couple of days," added Mullins.

Thousand Stars was a gallant second to Roi Du Val in the Group 2 Prix la Barka at the course last month, and will be given his first chance at 3m1½f.

Final Approach finished sixth in the Barka, while Mourad's  only previous trip to France culminated in a fourthplace in the Group 1 Hurdle for four-year-olds on this card two years ago, the Prix Alan du Breil.

Grands Crus also figures among the 14 remaining entries after Tuesday's first forfeit stage.

Having twice came off second-best to Big Buck's at Cheltenham and Aintree, his trainer David Pipe has had this race in mind for some time before sending the five-year-old novice chasing next term.

Grands Crus is already installed as the general 8-1 favourite for the RSA Chase at Cheltenham next March.

"Grands Crus remains on course for the race, and the plan is to come over on Thursday, with Tony McCoy booked to ride," said Pipe.

"It's great prize-money, a great race, and it looks like hopefully he'll get soft ground as well."

Pipe also intends to run Or Noir De Somosa ina Group 2 Chase on the same card, the Prix des Drags over 2m6f. Regis Schmidlin will ride.

Among the other notables for the Grande Course, Formosa Joana (Jean-Paul Gallorini) was fourth in the Barka, while Bel La Vie (Guillaume Macaire) was sixth.

Bel La Vie was sent off favourite for the race having been crowned champion four-year-old last November when winning the Prix Renaud de Vivier by five lengths.

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