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Mullins enhances stunning record as Benie Des Dieux strikes

Benie Des Dieux and Ruby Walsh after their victory in the Mares' Hurdle
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He's hard to beat in any race at this meeting – his opening-day treble tells you that. But confine the field to mares and it's practically impossible.

Expanding of the festival programme to include two contests that exclude geldings has been mighty good to Willie Mullins.

He's won both runnings of the newly-introduced Trull House Stud Mares' Novice Hurdle, with Laurina hot favourite to make it three from three on Thursday, and has almost as tight a stranglehold on the OLBG Mares' Hurdle.

It helps being the man who trained the legendary Quevega, who won it six times in a row from 2009 to 2014, but he's also triumphed with Glens Melody and Vroum Vroum Mag since her retirement.

And Mullins made it a remarkable nine from 11 in a race first added to the festival in 2008 thanks to Benie Des Dieux.

View the full race replay along with the result here

Not that the odds looked in her favour in the straight as Apple's Jade, who briefly loosened the Closutton grip by winning last year, and then Midnight Tour, a 33-1 shot who led over the final flight, were matched at odds-on with Betfair.

Benie Des Dieux, who traded at a high of 84-1 in running, was only fourth jumping the last but responded gamely to lead in the final 150 yards for a half-length win under Ruby Walsh.

The jockey was banned for two days for his use of the whip, though Mullins said: "It's early days but I thought that was ride of the week. Ruby was so good on her, to get her up the hill like that."

Benie Des Dieux ridden by Ruby Walsh (right) on the way to winning the Mares' Hurdle
Reflecting on his dominance of these races, Mullins said: "My father was always good with mares and we've always trained them – a lot of people don't want to train mares but we don't see anything wrong with them. We've targeted mares and when we see a nice one we buy it."

Benie Des Dieux would not have been cheap for Rich Ricci to buy but looks a smart recruit, having won three times over fences before this switch back to hurdles.

"When she won the first time I texted Rich and said this could be 'Benie Des Douvan', that was the sort of vibe she was giving me at home," revealed Mullins.

"This was the only race worth coming back over hurdles for. We'll go way back up in trip and back over fences now, I think that's her job really. She can go to the top over fences."

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When she won the first time I texted Rich and said this could be 'Benie Des Douvan', that was the sort of vibe she was giving me at home
E.W. Terms