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Globe-trotting Mullins proves US and France are pit stops en route to the best races

15-May-2023 18:44
in General
by Russell Smith

At this time of year, some of the most interesting Jump racing comes from abroad, and the sport's leading proponents have been exploiting the international appeal of the sport across two separate continents these past few days. 

In Tennessee, globe-trotter Willie Mullins finally pulled off success in the Iroquois Steeplechase, the most valuable of the US calendar's Grade I chases. Scaramanga, last seen a close fourth in the Coral Cup at the Festival, had sufficient turn of foot to overcome some occasional sketchy jumping and overhaul America's leading chaser XX, under Paul Townend. Townend is a relative newcomer to Mullins' foreign travels outside Cheltenham and Aintree; this was his first visit to Percy Warner Park in Nashville. 

Mullins was last here in the South in 2016 when he saddled the runner-up and third in an effort to win the Iroquois. Son Patrick reported to the Racing Post,"It was brilliant for Scaramanga. To win one of the marquee races out in America is very special. It was definitely one of the highlights of the year. He was in good form and ran very well when fourth in the Coral Cup at Cheltenham and he seems to have improved again."

If runners in the USA are an infrequent occurence for Ireland's champion trainer, sorties across the Channel to France most certainly are not. Mullins has a superb record at Auteuil, and is a keen exponent of French-bred horses, as the likes of Galopin des Champs and Al Boum Photo illustrate only too well. He fields a strong team this weekend for the big weekend of the Grand Steeplechase de Paris, nor is he alone on the boat from England. He fields Franco de Port and Carefully Selected in the big race. Well established french trainers won't take a foreign victory lying down. Guillaume Macaire has won this a record 7 times, and fields Spes Militurf and Altesse de Berlais, whilst Isabelle Pacault and Francois Nicolle are also strongly represented. 

Ex-pat Nick Littmoden fields Imperil, most recently a winner of the Prix de la Republique, Littmoden's biggest winner since moving to France a few years ago, whilst you can never rule out Louisa Carberry, who won this in 2021 with Docteur de Ballon, seeking a second sprnkling of angel dust. 

For good measure, Czech Joseph Vana, forever associated with the Pardubicka Chase, runs Suroit, bred by Guy Cherel, which goes to prove the British and Irish are not the only ones poaching French bloodstock. 

And for good measure, Emmet Mullins has entered Noble Yeats, who ran so well in this year's National, beatedn 8 1/2l by Corach Rambler.

Flooring Porter, one time Stayers hurdle victor, is another aiming for the lucrative prizes available in France's biggest jumps fixture in the Grande Course de Haies, the french Stayers Hurdle, on Saturday. Gavin Cromwell's champ has plenty to do against Klassical Dream, Kilcruit and Asterion Forlonge from Closutton, and springer Hewick, from Shark Hanlon's, no stranger to international travel himself.

Auteuil may win the headlines, but smaller fish are making their own news around the provinces. Today proved a highly staisfactory day for Noel George and partner Amanda Zetterholm, in achieving their first double in France at Compiegne. Over the space of an hour, a near 25/1 double was completed by Inedit Star and Instar de Reve, part of a riding four-timer by jockey Nicholas Gauffenic. The George stable is a cool £44,292 to the good.  


Not bad for an afternoon's work.

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