Mullins strikes for first Carlisle winner
Willie Mullins secured his first victory at Carlisle as Benie Des Dieux produced a dominant front-running display in the Houghton Mares' Chase.
Ireland's perennial champion trainer had saddled just one previous runner at the Cumbrian circuit, with Grade One-winning mare Gitane Du Berlais a beaten odds-on favourite in this Listed contest in 2015.
Benie Des Dieux was a prohibitively-priced 8/13 market leader on her first appearance since making a winning debut for Mullins and leading owner Rich Ricci at Limerick in December last year, but those who took the cramped odds will have had few concerns.
The six-year-old jumped accurately at the head of affairs, producing some extravagant leaps during the two-and-a-half-mile contest to put pressure on her opponents.
With her main rival Lastbutnotleast pulled up in the back straight, Benie Des Dieux readily pulled eight lengths clear of the rest under David Mullins, with Tacenda filling the runner-up spot.
"She put her ears back and really attacked them (fences). She's very quick and clever and has plenty of scope. She looks like a gelding and it's like riding one," David Mullins said.
There was further Irish success on the valuable card as the Stuart Crawford-trained Our Valentina reversed recent running with Paper Roses to claim the Northern Lights Mares' Hurdle Series Final Mares' Handicap Hurdle.