French glory for Thousand
Willie Mullins' outstanding hurdler Thousand Stars put up a superb performance to land the Grande Course De Haies D'Auteuil for the second year running.
The grey stormed past Nikita Du Berlais after jumping the final flight to win the race known as the French Champion Hurdle very cosily in the hands of Ruby Walsh.
Sleeping Mat attempted to make all and held a long lead at one stage, but came back to the field quickly in the straight and was headed after two out by Nikita Du Berlais. Walsh had the move covered and Thousand Stars (15-8 favourite) produced a strong turn of foot to pull clear in a matter of strides.
Formosa Joana Has was third with the winner's stable companions, Mourad and Zaidpour, fourth and fifth.
British challenger Cape Tribulation, trained by Malcolm Jefferson, was prominent in the early stages but failed to figure at the business end of the three-mile-one-and-a-half furlong showpiece run on heavy ground.
Mullins said: "He's an iron horse. He's just too tough and it's amazing how he's raced from the Morgiana (at Punchestown in November) up to today and not missed a Festival.
"He pulled out as fresh as paint today. He's so tough. To win a race like this two years in a row is just fantastic. He seems to love this track and these hurdles suit him."
The County Carlow trainer was also happy with the performance of his two other runners.
He went on: "Mourad stayed on great and Zaidpour jumped a lot better. He got a bit tired in the closing stages, but for him I'm still happy he ran a great race at this end of the season."