Favourite of the Grande Course de Haies d’Auteuil (French Champion Hurdle, Gr1), Saturday at Auteuil, De Bon Coeur (Vision d’État) could not add a second title to her tally as Irish French-bred winner Bénie des Dieux (Great Pretender) dominated for owner Rich Ricci and trainer Willie Mullins.
The race was run at a good pace with the ever staying mud lover Galop Marin (Black Sam Bellamy), one of the main challengers to De Bon Coeur’s dominance on the French hurdling scene. De Bon Coeur had to rally the field in the last turn, which could be instrumental of the flat spot she had between the last two hurdles. It was at that very point that Paul Townend drove Bénie des Dieux to the fore and eventually got her to fly away to win by over 5 lengths. De Bon Cœur seemed in trouble for a little while but finally rallied again to keep the second place, beating Berjou (Holy Roman Emperor) by a little more than a length, just the way she did last time out, when presumably in season.
It was a fifth success for Mullins in the French showpiece.
Bred in Saône-et-Loire by Gerard Doyen, the thoroughbred Bénie des Dieux started her career in France for Écurie Zingaro under Jean-Paul Gallorini’s watch. She left for Ireland after finishing third in the Prix André Michel Hurdle (Gr3) at Auteuil.
She then became one of the best mares in Britain and Ireland over hurdles. She has indeed won six of her seven outings there and her only failure is due to a fall. Her dam Cana (Robin des Champs) ran only four times in France, without success, at Vichy and Lyon-Parilly. Her only other foal, Grace des Dieux (Blek), now 3 years old, is still unraced. On the other hand, her own dam Cardoudalle (Cadoudal) won chasing at Auteuil and gave several winners.