Would Benie Des Dieux Win The Champion Hurdle?

Benie Des Dieux wins the Galmoy Hurdle under Paul Townend

Team Mullins suffered a notable blow last week with the news that Saldier and Klassical Dream – two of the yard’s leading hopes for the Unibet Champion Hurdle – were both set to miss the Cheltenham Festival.

The master of Closutton, a four-time Champion Hurdle winner with Hurricane Fly (2011 & 2013), Faugheen (2015) and Annie Power (2016) – now only has two entries in the race – Sharjah and Aramon.

With both appearing to hold outside chances at best, could connections be tempted to supplement star mare Benie Des Dieux – whom Mullins recently stated, “could be better than any mare I’ve trained.”

With females such as Quevega, Vroum Vroum Mag and the aforementioned Annie Power previously gracing the Closutton gallops, that is a serious statement.

Below, we have taken a closer look at Benie Des Dieux – evaluating her chances were owners Rich and Susannah Ricci to decide to opt for the Champion Hurdle.

For all of the action on the build-up to the Cheltenham Festival, check out our free horse racing tips page, which is currently in great form having fired in 189/1 & 22/1 Acca winners last week.

The Benie Des Dieux story so far

Starting her career in France for Mlle Isabelle Gallorini – where her best performance was a third in Grade 3 company at Auteuil – Benie Des Dieux has seen her form improve exponentially since joining Willie Mullins.

The nine-year-old has won eight of her nine starts in the silks of Rich and Susannah Ricci, with her sole defeat coming when falling at the final flight in last season’s OLBG Mares’ Hurdle.

Running out an impressive winner of the French Champion Hurdle last May, where she saw off the challenge of the smart odds-on favourite De Bon Coeur, Benie Des Dieux returned to action with a twenty-one-length demolition in the Grade 2 Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran on January 22nd.

What the ratings say

If contesting the Champion Hurdle, it will be the first time that Benie Des Dieux had dropped back to two miles since landing the Listed Opera Hat Mares Chase at Naas back in February 2018.

Proven stamina has been no barrier to success for Willie Mullins’ previous Champion Hurdle winners, however, with Hurricane Fly, Faugheen and Annie Power all having won over a minimum of 2m4f before their respective Champion Hurdle victories.

Interestingly, Benie Des Dieux’s current official rating of 162 is identical to that of Annie Power’s prior to her 2016 Champion Hurdle win, whilst the RPR of 162 that she posted in the Galmoy Hurdle matches that of Annie Power’s in the 2016 Champion.

How the bookmakers evaluate her chances

William Hill is currently a best-priced 15/2 on Benie Des Dieux for the Champion Hurdle, whilst the same firm goes 4/6 that she will simply win a race at the Cheltenham Festival.

In the non-runner no bet markets for the Champion, Benie Des Dieux is available at odds of 5/2 with Ladbrokes, Paddy Power and Coral.

Bookmakers feel that her most likely port of call for this year’s Festival is the Mares’ Hurdle, with the Betfair Sportsbook a best-priced evens money for that contest.

The stayers’ hurdle has also been mooted as a potential race for Benie, and Betfair go 8/1 for that contest – she is as short as 2/1 with firms offering the NRNB concession.

So, would she win the Champion Hurdle?

The simple answer to this is that we don’t know unless she takes her chance.

Willie Mullins has entries in the Mares’ Hurdle and the Stayers’, yet – as mentioned above – his Champion Hurdle squad currently looks a weak one.

Although the Mares’ seems the obvious race for Benie Des Dieux at this stage, it would be no shock to see the pull of – what at this stage – looks an average renewal of the Champion Hurdle prove too strong.

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