Benie Des Dieux from the Willie Mullins yard has yet to race this term, but she will defend her title in the £120,000 Grade 1 OLBG Mares’ Hurdle over two and a half miles at Cheltenham on Tuesday.
Unbeaten in five starts for the Closutton handler, the eight-year-old has not raced since defeating stable companion Augusta Kate at the Punchestown Festival in Grade 1 company last April.
“Benie Des Dieux is in good form”, revealed Mullins. “She is in great order and will run in the Mares’ Hurdle which she won last year. Ground-wise we haven’t been able to get a run into her, that is the only reason.
“She could have run in the last couple of weeks, but the new flu jab rule came in and that meant she could not run – I would rather give her the flu jab and leave her be instead of running.”
Limini, seemingly the strongest of the Mullins trio in the Unibet Champion Hurdle, landed the Grade 2 Dawn Run Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the 2016 Festival, before finishing third to Apple’s Jade in the 2017 renewal of the Grade 1 OLBG Mares’ Hurdle, a race she is being targeted at once again this term.
“I’m very happy with Limini. She has just not fired so far this year, but we are hoping she can come back to form this year.”
Mullins will be mob-handed in the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle as he will also saddle Elimay, Good Thyne Tara and Stormy Ireland.
The race goes to post at 4.10pm on Tuesday.