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France: Rule Supreme toughs it out as Mullins notches superb double.

Byline: Desmond Stoneham

RULE SUPREME downed the mighty Kotkijet at Auteuil yesterday as Willie Mullins notched a second consecutive shock victory in France's biggest hurdle race, the Grande Course de Haies d'Auteuil.

One year on from victory with 31-1 shot Nobody Told Me, Mullins was at it again with his unbelievably tough Royal & SunAlliance Chase winner Rule Supreme. Mullins' father Paddy won the Grande Course de Haies in 1984 with the mighty mare Dawn Run, who was killed in the same race two years later.

The eight-year-old, having his tenth start since December, was patiently ridden by David Casey and was brought wide rounding the final bend as Kotkijet kept towards the inside rail. Third jumping the final flight, the 142-10 chance battled on very gamely on the run-in to beat Great Love by two lengths, with Kotkijet another two and a half lengths adrift in third.

John Lynch, who owns Rule Supreme in partnership with brothers John and Tom Fallon, was ecstatic, saying: "They said that Kotkijet was unbeatable! This shows what a great trainer Willie Mullins is.

"After Punchestown, Rule Supreme had a ten-day break and put on so much weight that people thought he was pregnant!"

A notable absentee from the celebrations was Mullins, who was back in Ireland still struck down by a bout of food poisoning he picked up in France when Rule Supreme was third to Great Love in the Prix la Barka three weeks earlier.

Speaking from home, Mullins said: "Rule Supreme looked so big and burly before the Barka, we could not believe it. He will have a break now, but I am of a mind to keep him over hurdles in the autumn and we could well go back to France with him."

Trainer Jean-Paul Gallorini was not happy with the ride Thierry Majorcryk gave Kotkijet, saying: "I wish that he had pushed him a bit harder in the final stages. It was never going to be easy to win both this and the Grand Steeple, otherwise horses would have won them both [in the same year] in the past."

Casey went on to complete a 266-1 double on the Francois Cottin-trained Mesange Royale in the other Grade 1 on the card, the Prix Alain du Breil, in which the Milton Harris-trained Mondul was pulled up.

Cheltenham Gold Cup

Coral: 5-2 Best Mate, 10 Beef Or Salmon, Kotkijet, 14 Strong Flow, 16 Kingscliff, Royal Emperor, Sir Rembrandt, Therealbandit, 20 Cyrlight, Harbour Pilot, Iris's Gift, Lord Sam, 25 Moscow Flyer, Rule Supreme.

CAPTION(S):

Delighted connections mob Rule Supreme and David Casey, shock winners at Auteuil
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jun 20, 2004
Words:434
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