Gemix: David Cottin leads the celebrations in the French Champion HurdlePICTURE: Scoopdyga
Gemix denies strong raiding party at Auteuil
Report: France, Sunday
Auteuil: Grande Course de Haies d'Auteuil (Hurdle) (Group 1) 3m1f110y, 5yo+
GEMIX (Nicolas Bertran de Balanda/David Cottin) delighted the locals after trouncing a high-quality raiding party from Britain and Ireland in the French Champion Hurdle.
Jockey Cottin had the luxury of easing down the all-the-way winner to start the celebrations on the run to the line having put enough daylight back to favourite Solwhit, who led home the six-strong Anglo-Irish invasion in second.
The Ladbrokes World Hurdle winner, tackling the trip for the first time, travelled sweetly through the pack to lay down his challenge two out but he could not match Gemix's powerful finish.
Solwhit's rider Davy Russell said: "He did everything well and he was giving away 5lb so he's run his race. The man in charge [trainer Charles Byrnes] is a genius, he doesn't get the credit he deserves - he never has him anything other than spot on."
Zaidpour, one of three Willie Mullins-trained runners, was described by the trainer pre-race as being in the form of his life and he advertised his wellbeing by staying on to nab third.
Gemix, the only single-figure priced domestic runner, was installed as a 12-1 shot by Paddy Power for next year's World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
The five-year-old has time on his side and is progressing at a decent rate of knots, taking his third race in a row with the minimum of fuss.
"He was perfect, I can't say anything else," said Bertran de Balanda.
"I was confident because he was relaxed. He was imperious, he was always breathing well and he jumped brilliantly.
"David let the others come to him on the final turn but I knew this horse has the capacity to accelerate away again. It's just magnificent."
Another of Mullins' team On His Own was beaten into sixth by Prix la Barka winner Celestial Halo, while stablemate Thousand Stars proved disappointing trailing home ninth as he attempted to claim the big pot for a record third time.
However, the grey became distressed after the race and had to undergo a medical examination.
"Thousand Stars was distressed after the race but he's good now," said Mullins' wife Jackie.
"The vet said he tried too hard and pushed himself through the pain barrier, but he's okay now."
Reve De Sivola, saddled by Auteuil regular Nick Williams, showed up prominently for a long way before fading down the field.