Benie Des Dieux ran out a hugely impressive winner of the John Mulhern Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran, in which Apple’s Jade was a bitter disappointment.
Willie Mullins’ nine-year-old unfortunately crashed out at the last when in command of the Mares’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March – but since then has proved her class, being an easy winner at Punchestown and in France.
The race was billed as a match between the two top-class mares, with Apple’s Jade having got back to form with a win at Leopardstown last time out.
However, after jumping the third-last Gordon Elliott’s charge began to struggle and Davy Russell pulled her up.
When the field emerged from the fog running to the second-last, Benie Des Dieux was still on the bridle under Paul Townend and she was unextended to win by 21 lengths as the even-money favourite.
It was a one-two-three for Mullins, as Penhill took second and Killultagh Vic third. Death Duty, having his first outing for 758 days, was fourth.
Benie Des Dieux has now had nine races for Mullins and her sole defeat remains her Cheltenham fall. The Closutton trainer will now give serious consideration to a crack at the Stayers’ Hurdle.
“Obviously Apple’s Jade didn’t fire on the day, but I thought my mare put in as good a performance as she ever did in her life,” he said.
“Paul couldn’t believe how well she was going at the second-last and he said the race was over in a couple of strides.
“She went to France last summer and beat their unbeaten mare over there in the French Champion Hurdle. She could be better than any mare I’ve trained.
“She’s a three-mile mare rather than a two-mile mare. You’d seriously have to look at the Stayers’ Hurdle after that performance.
“She’d like a bit of cut in the ground so it will depend on the weather, and the fact that the Mares’ Hurdle is earlier in the week could be a factor (for more ease in the ground).”
He added: “I did a bit of work with her about 10 days ago and we thought she was in tip-top order.
“The Galmoy wasn’t on the agenda, but we said we’d enter without committing her. She was showing us all the right signs and it was a home game for us, so we said we’d let her take her chance.”
Townend said: “She’s all class, I was in my comfort zone everywhere and I was in front a mile too soon, but I didn’t want to disappoint her.
“What impressed me was how quickly she put it to bed when we straightened up.
“I never got to ride Annie Power, so she’d be the best mare I’ve ridden.”