Willie Mullins starting on next ‘millennium’ in Paris

Trainer, who has reached the 3,000 winners mark, can call on Paul Townend for Auteuil

Trainer Willie Mullins. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Trainer Willie Mullins. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

Willie Mullins reached the milestone of training 3,000 career winners on Wednesday and will hope to start on the next “millennium” in Paris on Saturday.

Ireland’s champion jumps trainer splits eight runners between two races at Auteuil and can call on Paul Townend’s services.

Townend’s ban for dangerous riding at the Punchestown festival doesn’t finish until next week. But with no jump racing in Ireland this weekend he is free to ride Bapaume in the Grade Two Prix La Barka due off at 5.45pm Irish-time.

Bapaume did best of the Mullins team when runner-up in last month’s French Champion Hurdle, and he will be joined by last year’s Barka winner Shaneshill as well as other stable companions Asthuria, Yorkhill and Bleu Berry. Mullins also won the €175,000 feature in 2016 with Un De Sceauz.

Townend is on Saglawy, one of three Mullins runners in the Grade Three Prix Questerbad. That one is joined by two other Sullivan Bloodstock-owned hopefuls, Msassa and Stormy Ireland.

Townend also rides Ross O’Sullivan’s Baie des Iles in a Grade Two chase on the Auteuil card, the mare’s first start since finishing 12th under Katie Walsh in the Aintree Grand National.

Mullins could aim to expand on his list of five Royal Ascot successes to date at the upcoming flat extravaganza with both Thomas Hobson and Max Dynamite in the running to make the Gold Cup line-up.

Thomas Hobson won the Ascot Stakes a year ago and is 25-1 to successfully take on the best stayers in the 2½-mile marathon.

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