Thousand Stars came with a late flourish to win the Grande Course De Haies D'Auteuil, also known as the French Champion Hurdle, for the second year running.

The Mullins-trained grey stormed past Nikita Du Berlais after jumping the last to win very cosily.

Sleeping Mat attempted to make all and held a long lead at one stage. However, he came back to the field in the straight and was headed after two out by the Robert Collet-trained Nikita Du Berlais.

Jockey Ruby Walsh had the move covered on Thousand Stars and the 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.

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.

"Mourad stayed on great and Zaidpour jumped a lot better," he said. "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."