Many will remember the Willie Mullins trained mare Benie Des Dieux for her last flight fall at the Cheltenham Festival. But those who have forgiven her have been following her with great delight since that date.
She has run twice since Cheltenham, winning on both occasions and has more than made up for her blunder. She won a Grade One at the Punchestown Festival in Ireland ahead of landing the French Champion Hurdle. Fellow wonder mare De Bon Coeur had her colours lowered that day. And Willie Mullins believes that the performance in France could have been the best we have ever seen from his mare. Which is a big statement indeed.
That was her final run of the season before being brought back for another campaign next autumn. The big question is what to do with her, and Willie Mullins has already hinted at that. After the race in France, he told reporters that he is going to think about sending Benie Des Dieux back over fences next season. That would be a big change of plans considering what she has been doing over the past year.
The last time we saw her over fences was back in February of 2018 when she won a Listed chase at Naas. That would mean the gap between her last chase run and her potential next could be two years. It’s a big ask for a horse but if that is the plan then you can expect her to be extensively schooled again after her break.
Perhaps the biggest reason for her to go chasing is because of the mark she is currently on. After excelling over hurdles, her chase mark has been left untouched. Should she go back to the bigger obstacles then she would return off a mark of just 147. That is big enough to put her into the big handicaps that we have during the season. While also being low enough to make her very competitive off that kind of mark.
The obvious starting point for her could be the Ladbrokes Trophy, a race that Mullins landed with Total Recall in 2018. She could then go on to run in either further handicaps or step up into graded company. There are plenty of options ahead of her at around three miles.
For now, though we will have to wait for the decision. Mullins has said that nothing will be spoken about until she is ready to return to training next Autumn. But I doubt that will stop the endless speculation over the summer.
Let’s hope she goes over fences, as she could find herself being close to top class over them and three miles, it appears to be tailor-made for her.