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Mullins rates Benie des Dieux...
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Mullins rates Benie des Dieux better than Annie Power as he targets Stayers at Cheltenham

Richie McCormack
Richie McCormack

05:50 23 Jan 2020

Willie Mullins is targetting a tilt at the Stayers' Hurdle at Cheltenham for Benie des Dieux following victory in the Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park. 

Jockey Paul Townend piloted the 9-year old to a comprehensive 21-length victory over Penhill in the Grade 2.

Benie des Dieux went off an odds-on favourite in the Mares Hurdle at Cheltenham last year, but fell at the last with victory going instead to Roksana.

But speaking with Racing TV after the Galmoy win, Mullins revealed the simple plan for the next couple of weeks, "Try and keep a lid on her now, she's fit and well. Let her down for a few weeks and then we'll build her back up again."

A return to the Mares' seemed to be a straightforward decision, but it appears Mullins now has other ideas, "When she was coming up the straight today I said to myself 'that has Stayer's written all over it'. I'll have to chat to [owner] Rich [Ricci].

"I thought the ground was going to be right for her in the Mares Hurdle, they always have softer ground the first couple of days of the festival and it will be drying out in the third day.

"I'll have a chat with Rich we'll go through it, and maybe with Paul as well and see what we all think."

Mullins is in no doubt as to the quality of Benie des Dieux when compared to 2016 Champion Hurdle-winner Annie Power, "I think she could be better.

"I mean she went to France last year and took on their best mare [De Bon Coeur] in the French Champion Hurdle and beat her.

"She beats Apples Jade most times, and she's a serious talent.

"When she fell at Cheltenham I think a lot of people lost faith in her or lost confidence in her but to me, she's a serious serious talent".

Apples Jade pulled up in the Galmoy, prompting some to predict the curtain coming down on the multiple Grade One-winners career.

But trainer Gordon Elliott says Cheltenham remains in their sights, "We'll have a chat with Michael and Eddie [O'Leary] and I'd imagine if she goes anywhere it will be for the Stayers' at Cheltenham and that could be her swan song if all goes well.

"She was very good in Leopardstown and she owes us nothing."

 

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Read more about

Apple's Jade Benie Des Dieux Cheltenham Cheltenham Festival Galmoy Hurdle Gordon Elliott Gowran Park Michael O'Leary Willie Mullins

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