Lossiemouth proved one of the star juveniles of the season with victory at both the Cheltenham and Punchestown Festivals and trainer Willie Mullins will be targeting more success with the two-time Grade 1 winner next season.
The start of the 2024 National Hunt season is some way off but thoughts of the Festival are never far away, so we are taking a look at some of the horses expected to play major roles in the Cotswolds and beyond.
Lossiemouth has earned quotes for the Mares Hurdle, Champion Hurdle and Arkle Chase at next year’s Cheltenham Festival, for which she is a shortest price at 7/2 for the Mares event.
|Where||Cheltenham Festival, Cheltenham Racecourse, Gloucestershire|
|When||Tuesday 12th March, 2024|
|How to watch||ITV Racing, Racing TV & bet365 Sports Live Streaming|
|Odds||Lossiemouth 7/2, Ashroe Diamond 5/1, Echos in Rain 8/1, Love Envoi 12/1, You Wear It Well 12/1, Marie’s Rock|
Lossiemouth went into the Spring Juvenile Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival as the leading juvenile hurdler around and was odds-on to maintain her perfect start but, despite that, she met with a first defeat.
There was some mitigation, as she was hampered at the third-last flight and shuffled to the rear of the pack before being forced wide on the final bend.
In those circumstances, she did well to get back up and finish second to stablemate Gala Marceau.
However, the four-year-old banished the memories of that defeat, with two fantastic Grade 1 victories in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham and the Ballymore Champion Four Year Old Hurdle at .
Given a weekend in which he won the Irish Gold Cup on the Saturday and Champion Hurdle 24 hours later, it wasn't the best couple of days in Paul Townend's career.
He was luckless on board Lossiemouth in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle, as reported by his boss post-race.
"Paul (Townend) got into a lot of trouble, but the winner is a good filly and she's improving all the time," said . "Paul thinks he was a little unlucky."
However, Lossiemouth’s regular ride had no such problems when beating stable mate Gala Marceau by two-and-a-half lengths in the Triumph Hurdle and the Rich Ricci-owned filly kept on well to beat Zarak The Brave at Punchestown.
Mullins was full of praise for Lossiemouth after she showed her battling qualities to score in the Ballymore Champion Four Year Old Hurdle under .
That proved to be a successful contest for the Closutton team, as they saddled the first three home, and it opened plenty of opportunities for the two-time Grade 1 winner.
Mullins said: "You think you're buying nice horses all the time but she seems to be a cut above. For a filly to go through the whole season and turn up at every festival – Christmas, getting hammered around at the Dublin Racing Festival, Cheltenham and then back here today – that's incredible for a four-year-old filly."
He added: "She'll need a long break after that. She has been very good to us. I'll be looking forward to the Mares' Hurdle with her next year and, who knows, she could be a Champion Hurdle mare in a couple of years' time. She has huge reserves and is very sound. That's half the battle."
Mullins has a tremendous record in the Mares Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, winning the race with Benie Des Dieux, Vroum Vroum Mag, Glens Melody and the brilliant Quevega in recent years and it would be no surprise if Lossiemouth proved to be Closutton new star mare.