Cheltenham Festival winner Benie Des Dieux gave Willie Mullins his 15th winner of this year’s Punchestown Festival when landing the Grade 1 Irish Stallion Farms EBF Annie Power Mares Champion Hurdle on Saturday.
Mullins was full of praise for his mare, stating:
“She’s as good as I thought she was. My aim all year was to run her at Cheltenham and then hopefully to come on here. She’s the female version of Douvan, if you saw the work she did at home. We’ll talk about sending her chasing next year but I want to see what there is over fences for her, are there the races to go for?”
Ireland’s Champion National Hunt trainer, who retained his title on Saturday, was soon in the winner’s enclosure again following the success of Saldier in the Grade 1 AES Champion Four Year Old Hurdle, Mullins’16th win of the week.
The Carlow trainer then set a new record of winners at the Punchestown Festival when Meri Devie (14/1) took the Grade B Ballymore Handicap Hurdle, and Passageway (7/2jf) claimed the PDM (PRO/AM) INH Flat Race.
Elsewhere on the card Henry de Bromhead’s Heron Heights (16/1) easily won the Palmerstown House Pat Taaffe Handicap Chase, while Noel Meade’s Wounded Warrior (20/1) took the BoyleSports Handicap Chase in the Gigginstown House Stud silks.
Reflecting on an incredible week for his Closutton-based team, Willie Mullins, who won his 12th trainer’s title, praised all the links in a very successful operation by saying:
“My team at home, my owners and people that follow the yard have enjoyed it but for me it was more a relief. Being able to get into a challenging position for the title after Tuesday was just a pure relief. I’m humbled to have won the same number of championships as Tom Dreaper, he was God when I was growing. I’m enjoying training as much as getting ever and trying to find the horses. But it’s not getting any easier to win, thanks to the likes of Gordon (Elliott). But we’ve got together a really strong team at home – it’s a big thing having the likes of Patrick (Mullins), David Casey and Ruby there helping to put everything together.”