Willie Mullins trains first Carlisle winner

Benie Des Dieux provided Willie Mullins with his first ever winner at Carlisle with 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. 

The winning rider told Racing UK: "She put her ears back and really attacked them (fences), she put down on me once or twice, she was a bit cleverer than I was. She's very quick and clever, and has plenty of scope. She looks like a gelding and it's like riding one. It's quite steep coming up there (hill to the finish), but there was plenty left."

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.

The six-year-old was fourth in a qualifier for this series at Ayr last month where Paper Roses was second, but was a little better off at the weights on this occasion and that ultimately told, as the 9-4 favourite held the rallying runner-up by a head.

Monfass (10-) continued Rose Dobbin's good run in winning the Northern Lights Two Mile Hurdle Series Final Handicap Hurdle.

Given a break after his reappearance run here in October, the six-year-old travelled powerfully for most of the journey and after leading running to the last, he stayed on strongly for Craig Nichol once grabbing the rail.

Ian Duncan's Finaghy Air (8-1) got up late under Grand National-winning rider Derek Fox to mug Nortonthorpelegend in the Northern Lights Staying Chase Series Final Handicap Chase.

Fox said: "Ian wasn't here today, but speaking to him on the phone before the race he said he's one-paced but jumps well and will keep going.

"He said he was very well and would gallop to the line, and that's what he did."

Fox doubled up when 5-4 favourite Forest Des Aigles laughed at the opposition in the Northern Lights Middle Distance Chase Series Final Handicap Chase for Lucinda Russell, who teamed up with the rider to such good effect with One For Arthur at Aintree in April.

The Susan Corbett-trained Ebony Rose (10-1) dug deep to see off Native Optimist in the Northern Lights Stayers' Hurdle Series Final Handicap Hurdle.

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