Benie Des Dieux camp hopeful of making amends for Festival fall
Luckless Cheltenham Festival failure Benie Des Dieux will bid to bounce back from a dramatic fall at Prestbury Park by winning the Annie Power Mares Champion Hurdle for the second year running at Punchestown tomorrow.
The Willie Mullins-trained eight-year-old looked to be securing the OLBG Mares' Hurdle for the second successive year when she came down at the final flight, handing the race to Roksana.
That was Benie Des Dieux's first appearance since taking this race in 2018.
She has just four rivals this time, including two stablemates in Stormy Ireland and Good Thyne Tara, who finished second and third respectively in that Cheltenham contest.
The Gordon Elliott-trained Tintangle and With Discretion from Nicky Henderson's stable make up the five runners.
Henderson saddles Fusil Raffles in the other Grade One on the card - the AES Champion Four Year Old Hurdle. The French import won the Adonis Hurdle at Kempton on his first start on these shores for the Henderson team.
Elliott is two-handed with Coko Beach and Surin, while Mullins relies on French Made - winner of a Grade Two Juvenile Hurdle at Fairyhouse last month.
Fakir D'Oudairies, runner-up to Henderson's Triumph Hurdle hero Pentland Hills at Aintree, represents Joseph O'Brien. Padraig Roche's Way Back Home is the other contender.
Meanwhile, Charlie Appleby believes Ghaiyyath will be seen to better effect when stepped up in trip in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot.
The Newmarket handler has earmarked the Group Two prize as the next target for the lightly raced four-year-old following his odds-on defeat in the Prix Ganay at ParisLongchamp last Sunday.
After cutting out much of the running, the Dubawi colt weakened into third in France - and Appleby feels his charge now requires a stiffer test of stamina.
Appleby said: "Ghaiyyath put up a good performance on Sunday to finish third, but we have always felt that this horse will be at his best over a mile and a half.
"He was beaten by two Group One winners and the plan with him will now be to freshen him up and head for the Hardwicke at Ascot.
"He is still an inexperienced horse and that was only the sixth run of his career.
"He stepped into battle and didn't shy away from it. He stuck to his guns well and he gives me the impression a mile and a half will be his optimum trip."