Willie Mullins takes Prix La Barka with Mr Adjudicator
Trainer fields five of nine runners in Grade Two renewal worth over €100,000 to winner
Willie Mullins: ‘I thought [Bertrand] Lestrade gave him a fabulous ride.’ File photograph: The Jockey Club/Cheltenham Racecourse.
Willie Mullins continued his domination of the Prix La Barka Garde Two Hurdle at Auteuil when Mr Adjudicator denied stablemate Bapaume back-to-back wins.
Mullins had won the last three renewals, with Un De Sceaux and Shaneshill scoring prior to Bapaume 12 months ago, and this time he fielded five of the nine runners.
Blue Dragon, a rare home-trained runner, took them along ahead of Stormy Ireland, another Mullins representative, with Paul Townend on Bapaume prepared to bide his time.
Townend was keen to grab the rail on Bapaume and having claimed Blue Dragon jumping the last, he could bag what he thought was the prime position.
However, Bertrand Lestrade, possibly using some local knowledge on Mr Adjudicator, came down the centre of the track to win going away.
Assistant trainer Patrick Mullins told Sky Sports Racing: “He really improved from the last day [seventh in French Champion Hurdle] when he got hampered.
“I thought Lestrade gave him a fabulous ride, as they went quite hard in front and down the back straight he stayed on the inside before coming home strong.
“Bapaume ran well, he had top weight so it wasn’t easy, but he loves it round here.
“It’s fantastic for the Bobbetts [owners] because last year Mr Adjudicator came here but couldn’t run because he was vaccinated wrong, so it’s compensation for that.”
In the earlier Prix des Drags, Ross O’Sullivan’s Baie Des Iles was well beaten trying to win the race for a second time.
There was also bad news for Mullins whose Isleofhopendreams broke down badly in a race won by Isabelle Pacault’s Jubilatoire.