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Dublin: 8°C Wednesday 24 February 2021

Brilliant Benie Des Dieux wins French Champion Hurdle for Mullins

Willie Mullins wins famous French race for a fifth time.

Source: Equidia/YouTube

BENIE DES DIEUX, fresh from a Grade 1 victory at the Punchestown festival, ran out a decisive winner of the French Champion Hurdle at Auteuil, comfortably beating the odds-on favourite De Bon Coeur.

The mare was providing Willie Mullins with a fifth victory in the Grande Course de Haies d’Auteuil, following success for Nobody Told Me (2003), Rule Supreme (2004) and Thousand Stars (2011 and 2012).

The 3/1 shot was ridden by Paul Townend and took her record for Mullins to seven wins from eight starts – her only defeat was in the Mares’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival when she famously fell at the final flight with the race at her mercy back in March.

Benie Des Dieux had never run beyond two-and-a-half miles but her stamina was not tested in this slowly run 3m1½f contest which developed into a dash down the straight.

A delighted Mullins said: “She did everything right. I am surprised how easily she did it. I thought De Bon Coeur would be difficult to beat but I knew she would stay.”

Mullins had previously kept the Rich Ricci-owned Benie Des Dieux to races for mares but the eight-year-old proved well up to this new challenge.

The 13-time champion trainer in Ireland added: “We run her against mares because those races are there but I’ve never been afraid of taking the boys on.”

De Bon Coeur, sent off the 4/6 favourite, was a disappointing second having been readily put in her place, while Berjou finished third.

Bapaume, also owned by Ricci, fared second-best of Mullins’ five-strong challenge in fourth.

Mullins will bid to make it a fantastic double on Sunday when he saddles five runners in the France’s finest jumps race, the Zeturf Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris, with his leading hope Burrows Saint, who will be bidding to follow up his success in last month’s Irish National.

- David Jennings

– For more, visit the Racing Post  

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