Now faithful to this habit, Irish leading trainer Willie Mullins launches a powerful raid on the Prix La Barka Hurdle Race (Gr2) Sunday at Auteuil. The race used to be a prep for the Grande Course de Haies d’Auteuil (Gr1)but since last season, it has been positioned at the very end of the season as the top hurdlers’ last gasp. That did not stop Mullins from winning the race for the sixth time in 2018 courtesy of Bapaume (Turtle Bowl), a jumper imported from France who is back in action this Sunday at Auteuil with 4 other Closutton trainees. Beaten by champion mares Laurina, Roksana and Bénie des Dieux this season, Stormy Ireland (Motivator) is looking for a big win too. Contrary to what her name might suggest, she was bred in France. The 5-year-old Mr Adjudicator (Camacho) will be ridden for the first time by Bertrand Lestrade after his encouraging seventh place in the “Grande Course” three weeks back, where Bapaume finished fourth. The novice hurdler Quick Grabim (Oscar) has just made a comeback and the mare Pravalaguna (Great Pretender) seems a tad below.
The French team will count on Blue Dragon (Califet), who has won again recently after a good comeback. Trained by his former jockey, David Cottin, he is a champion, able to beat anyone when he is in the right mood. Jazz in Montreux (Rip Van Winkle) and Adagio des Bordes (Voix du Nord) have just taken the first two places of the Prix du Cher Hurdle Race (L) at Compiègne. Pop Art du Berlais (Poliglote) ended up last on that day but he is better than that.