Horse racing news Monday 4th December 2017

Willie Mullins has high hopes for Rich Ricci-owned inmate Benie Des Dieux. The French import made a big impression on her Irish debut at Limerick last Christmas and made her long-awaited return to action in a Listed event at Carlisle on Sunday. The daughter of Great Pretender dominated her rivals from the front and Mullins is excited to see what she can achieve in the coming weeks and months. "That was her second run for us and she's bolted up twice. There was nothing suitable to run her in in Ireland and the race at Carlisle was made for mares like her. I think she's one to keep a good eye out for."

The trainer sees the Grand National as a more realistic long-term target than the Cheltenham Gold Cup for his Ladbrokes Trophy hero Total Recall. The eight-year-won the Ladbrokes Trophy (Hennessy Gold Cup) on Saturday when getting the better of Whisper in a thrilling finish. Promptly trimmed to around 20-1 for the Gold Cup afterwards Mullins is more inclined to aim for the world's most famous steeplechase at Aintree the following month, for which he is a 25-1 shot with several firms. “I think he'd have to improve another 10lb to be competitive in a Gold Cup field. He looks a Grand National horse to me. That's the route I would be going.”

Elsewhere Gigginstown supremo Michael O'Leary enjoyed a fantastic afternoon on Sunday with three Grade One winners at Fairyhouse. The owner did have a warning for ante-post punters regarding the thus far unbeaten and much hyped Samcro though. "The hype with Samcro is rubbish. He's not the next coming of Jesus Christ." said the owner. The five year-old is already best price 2-1 jolly for the Ballymore Properties Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival off the back of some impressive performances