sport

Gemix dazzles for Auteuil win

Irish and British raiders were unable to make a significant impact as Gemix successfully defended his crown in the French Champion Hurdle.

Nicolas Bertran de Balanda's six-year-old slammed leading Irish stayer Solwhit in the Grade One contest 12 months ago and has recently run well twice in defeat behind Willie Mullins' unbeaten hurdler Un De Sceaux.

Mullins sent a strong raiding party for this year's renewal of the Grande Course de Haies d'Auteuil, with Thousand Stars, winner of the race in 2011 and 2012, joined by stable companions Diakali and Zaidpour.

Admirably grey Thousand Stars raced up with the pace from flag-fall in the hands of Katie Walsh, with her brother Ruby sat in the slipstream aboard favourite Diakali.

David Cottin was also prominent aboard 3-1 shot Gemix, but in the most part raced much wider than the Mullins contingent.

Gemix swung into the straight in front, with Diakali seemingly travelling strongly, but the step up to almost three and a quarter miles ultimately appeared beyond him as he weakened into fourth.

Gemix galloped all the way to the line and Cottin punched the air as he passed the post well clear of Le Grand Luce.

The only British runner was the Paul Nicholls-trained Zarkandar and he finished off his race to good effect to pip Diakali for third in the hands of Sam Twiston-Davies.

Thousand Stars back-peddled quickly from the home turn, Zaidpour finished in midfield under Paul Townend and the other Irish-trained contender, Tony Martin's Bog Warrior, was never a factor for Barry Geraghty.