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Mullins saddles eight in all-out assault on pair of valuable hurdle prizes

Shaneshill returns to Auteuil in defence of the Prix La Barka crown he won last May
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The Prix La Barka (5.45) has been dropped back into the June slot traditionally reserved for the Grande Course de Haies and now serves as a consolation race for that Grade 1 rather than the final trial.

If local trainers were hoping the switch might have diminished Willie Mullins' appetite for the Barka, they will have been sorely disappointed to see Ireland's champion declare five of the 13 runners for the Auteuil contest.

The mount of David Mullins, Shaneshill, makes his first visit to Paris of the spring, having won this race last May before going on to run a fine third in the Grande Course three weeks later.

"Shaneshill won the race last year and although they've shortened the distance by two furlongs that shouldn't be a problem if he handles the testing ground, while he's in good form," said the trainer.

Bapaume ran on in fine style to grab second behind De Bon Coeur in the Grande Course over 3m1½f, while Yorkhill cut out much of the running when giving Danny Mullins no peace in front but stayed on well to be sixth. 

Mullins said: "Yorkhill ran okay when sixth over the course last month. The shorter trip might suit and we'll probably try different tactics.

"We were happy with Bapaume's effort when he ran second and we're looking forward to a big run from him."

The Mullins quintet is completed by Asthuria – who won at Limerick over fences last time – and Coral Cup winner Bleu Berry, the mount of James Reveley.

Francois Nicolle has sent the imperious De Bon Coeur off on her summer break but can still rely on the third and fourth from the Grande Course in Dalia Grandchamp and Alex De Larredya.

Stormy Ireland returns to Auteuil

Stormy Ireland made her hurdling debut at Auteuil when trained by Dominique Bressou and leads a three-strong challenge for Mullins in the Prix Questarabad (5.10) off the back of a confidence-boosting win at Killarney.

A faller on her two previous starts, Stormy Ireland won a Listed mares hurdle at Killarney last month

"The ground will suit all three, especially Stormy Ireland, who has a very light weight," said Mullins, who sends Msassa and Saglawy back to Paris after the pair finished sixth and ninth in the Grade 1 Prix Alain du Breil but who now receive plenty of weight from the second and third that day, the Guillaume Macaire-trained duo Tunis and Master Dino. 

"We might change tactics on Saglawy and the pair of them look well treated with their allowances," he added.

Baie follows in the steps of Seabass

Baie Des Iles was a major gamble for the Grand National before being hampered at Foinavon on the second circuit.

Trainer Ross O'Sullivan and wife Katie Walsh pictured with Baie Des Iles shortly before their attempt at the Crabbies Grand National

Trainer Ross O'Sullivan has taken a leaf out of his father-in-law Ted Walsh's book in sending the seven-year-old out for compensation in a race Seabass finished sixth in five years ago – the Prix des Drags (6.15). 

"She travelled over on Wednesday and is really well," said O'Sullivan. "We've had this race in mind for a while and the testing ground will help. She has only 10st 1lb and Paul Townend rides."

The market for the Grade 2 contest is likely to be dominated by So French, Bipolaire and Roi Mage, all of whom came down at the first flight in the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris.


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We were happy with Bapaume's effort when he ran second and we're looking forward to a big run from him
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