Five-star Mullins lands Prix la Barka with improving Bapaume
Prix la Barka (Grade 2 hurdle) 5yo+ | 2m3½f
Less than three weeks after his gutsy second in the Grande Course de Haies, Bapaume notched a stylish success in the Prix la Barka to give Willie Mullins a fifth career win in the race.
One of five runners for Ireland's champion trainer, Bapaume was ridden in the rear third of the field early on as stablemate Asthuria set the pace, before Paul Townend began to work his way forwards inside the final mile.
Taken to the stands' rail as the field spread across the track turning in, Bapaume surged six lengths clear of Le Grand Luce. His haul in France over the last 20 days now stands at €155,000.
"We were going to ride him patiently again but, with the shorter trip today, Paul was always happy with his position," said Mullins. "I think at his age, this trip is far enough.
"I took a chance running him over three miles in the Champion Hurdle the last day but it was more for experience.
"He recovered well from that trip, which is a big thing for a five-year-old to come off a three mile plus race like that and travel back to win a championship race. It just shows how good he is.
"He's built more like a hurdler than a chaser but he jumps so well. I have a big decision to make over the summer."
Asthuria was just run out of the places but still picked up prize-money in sixth, while Shaneshill fared best of the other Mullins runners in ninth.
Prix Questarabad (Grade 3 hurdle) 4yo | 2m3½f
Stormy Ireland and Danny Mullins attempted to make all but had to settle for third behind the heavily-favoured Guillaume Macaire pair of Master Dino and Tunis.
Receiving a handy pull in the weights, as well as the sex allowance, Stormy Ireland put in a couple of sticky leaps early on but settled down to the task well and was closing down Tunis again in the fight for second at the line.
"She can be like that but she gets the hang of it," said Danny Mullins. "For her first run over a bit longer you'd be happy enough with the performance and, going forward, I'm sure going over a longer trip will be no problem."
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