Reports17 March 2023

'She's a star filly' - redemption for Lossiemouth and Townend as Mullins leads home first four

Lossiemouth: dominant in the Triumph Hurdle
Lossiemouth: dominant in the Triumph HurdleCredit: Alan Crowhurst

Cursed with rotten luck at Leopardstown, blessed with class and courage at Cheltenham – Lossiemouth is officially the outstanding juvenile of the season. That case is now closed.

Debate raged about whether she would have beaten Gala Marceau in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle had she not got shuffled back to last leaving the back straight, a ride Willie Mullins was highly critical of afterwards. 

Paul Townend could have jumped ship on to Blood Destiny, as many thought he might, but he wanted to right the wrong of Leopardstown and did so in style. He picked the right one and made sure he did not get the wrong answer. 

This was the Lossiemouth we saw at Fairyhouse in early December and again over Christmas. She is not very big, but she has a huge engine and never looked like being beaten on the way to leading home a 1-2-3-4 for Mullins. 

Initially, Paddy Power went 8-1 about her winning next year's Mares' Hurdle, but that was soon halved to 4-1 following support. She is 16-1 from 33-1 for the Champion Hurdle, but the exploits of Vauban this season for the same connections might temper their enthusiasm to go down that route. 

Townend was thrilled to make up for Leopardstown and said: "I think she is very good. She is very professional, even though she hasn’t had a whole lot of racing. Thankfully we were able to make up for the mishap at Dublin for Rich and Susannah."

Reflecting on the way the race panned out and hitting the front at the top of the hill, he added: "It wasn’t ideal at that stage in the race to be honest, but I wasn’t going to fight her too much. She was throwing her head about a bit and she just wanted to get on with it. I didn’t question her stamina, so I just wanted to keep at an even gallop. She was actually having a little look around up the straight."

She could afford to have a look around too as she was always doing enough to fend off the fast-finishing Gala Marceau, by two and a quarter lengths in the end. Zenta was a neck away in third with Blood Destiny and Patrick Mullins only managing ninth. 

The winning trainer said: "Rather than fighting Lossiemouth, Paul let her gallop and held on to her for as long as he could. Once she jumped the last it was just a matter of hanging on, and he actually thinks there’s more in the tank. 

"She’s a star filly. But for the traffic problems she encountered at Leopardstown, she’d be unbeaten for us."

Lossiemouth (pink): 16-1 for next year's Champion Hurdle
Lossiemouth (pink): 16-1 for next year's Champion HurdleCredit: Alan Crowhurst

It was the first winner of the week for Rich Ricci who, like so many, felt she was the moral winner at Leopardstown. 

Ricci said: "I just felt she was unlucky on the day at Leopardstown. She is a lovely filly and she has got a lot of scope. She is National Hunt-bred and is a very nice mare.

"Paul said coming down the hill ‘Wow, she just wants to crack on’ but he held on to her just enough and he kind of filled her up and she responded. It shows maturity and professionalism.

"I’m glad for Paul.  I think on the day at Leopardstown Paul was gutted. Sport is about redemption."

There are few better at redemption in this game than Townend. That level head of his is made for occasions like this. 

Kenny Alexander was over the moon with Gala Marceau's effort, even if she was unable to confirm Leopardstown form with Lossiemouth. 

He said: "She has run an absolute blinder. We beat the winner last time at Leopardstown, so there will have to be a rematch. I will definitely not be scared to take her on again and that will probably be at Punchestown, all being well, at the end of next month."

Ricci confirmed that is where we will see Lossiemouth next. 

"She is only four so maybe in two years time she will go for the Champion Hurdle depending on Constitution Hill and the rest of the field. For the time being Punchestown is the next thing for Lossiemouth and we will take it from there."

Lossiemouth is the standout juvenile this season and it turns out Townend knew it too.

Read these next:

'As brilliant a ride as I've ever seen in any horserace' - McCoy heaps praise on Townend after Gold Cup masterclass  

'He's a proper, proper horse' - Galopin Des Champs gallops mercilessly to Cheltenham Gold Cup glory  

'A dream come true' - 33-1 Faivoir and Bridget Andrews give Dan Skelton a fourth County Hurdle success  

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David JenningsDeputy Ireland editor
Published on 17 March 2023Last updated 17:06, 17 March 2023