The 2020 Cheltenham festival is fast approaching, as anticipation continues to build ahead of the key meeting in the National hunt calendar. Punters will be looking for selections like Cheltenham festival tips, as Benie Des Dieux will head in as the banker for many and be included in a number of multiples across the week.
The nine year old mare is trained by Willie Mullins and has two options for the festival. These being the Stayers hurdle and Mares hurdle. It would appear very likely she will be heading to the latter, as she looks to avenge her shock defeat in the race from last season, when she was all but set to win before falling at the last. Benie Des Dieux is now the general odds on favourite for the race and if Honeysuckle diverts to the Champion hurdle, then she is set to start as the shortest priced favourite across the four days.
Benie moved over to the Mullins yard in December of 2016 and has since gone on to win 8 of her 9 starts, in which she is unbeaten when completing. She started out by landing a Mares Beginners Chase by 30 lengths, instantly looking another exciting mare to join the Mullins team. She then had a near year off but returning to land a listed Mares’ Chase by eight lengths readily.
Benie then followed this up with another impressive listed Mares Chase success at Naas, which set her up to contest the 2018 Mares’ hurdle at the Cheltenham festival. She was sent off at odds of 9/2 with the Gordon Elliott trained Apple’s Jade the overwhelming favourite. However, the latter failed to bring her best on the day and Benie stayed on very powerfully to win going away, having looked beaten three out.
Benie Des Dieux powers to the Mares’ Hurdle at @CheltenhamRaces.
— ITV Racing (@itvracing) March 13, 2018
Benie then rounded out her 2018 season with a victory in the Mares Champion hurdle at Punchestown, again beating Apple’s Jade in the process. She was then given a near year lay-off before returning to contest the 2019 running of the Mares’ hurdle, as she looked to defend her crown. Benie was sent off as the odds on favourite and put in as the Mullins banker for the week. She appeared set to collect, travelling ominously well throughout the race, before moving three lengths clear going to the last. However, she came down, which left Roksana to land the contest. This was a shock and brought back memories of the same owners Annie Power, when she well in the same race back in 2015.
Following a short break, Benie returned to contest the Mares’ Champion hurdle at Punchestown. She showed no ill effects from her fall and ran away with the contest to win very impressively by just over nine lengths. Just a few weeks later and she was set the daunting task of taking on De Bon Coeur in her back garden in the French Champion hurdle. The French horse was sent off as the 2/5 favourite and many believed it would be another easy victory for the Francois Nicolle trained runner. However, it turned out to be a different story, as Benie picked up readily from two out to win going away by just over six lengths. A very impressive performance and a further example of just how good Benie is.
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) May 18, 2019
Benie has now returned this season following a 250 day break, to contest the Grade Two Galmoy hurdle. This saw her produce a career best performance to win on the bridle by over 20 lengths from the likes of Penhill, Killultagh Vic and the disappointing Apple’s Jade. This was an incredible performance and one that led her trainer to claim she could be the best mare he has ever trained. A huge statement considering he trained the likes of Annie Power and of course the six time Cheltenham festival winner Quevega.
Benie now heads to the Mares hurdle and is going to take the world of beating and would be simply impossible to oppose if Honeysuckle takes up other arrangements. She will be looking to extend her trainers incredible record in the race, as he has now won 9 of the 12 running’s since its inauguration back in 2008.