Lossiemouth tasted defeat for the first time in her career at the recent Dublin Racing Festival, but she remains at the front of the Triumph Hurdle betting.
As the countdown for the 2023 Cheltenham Festival intensifies, we are taking a look at some of the horses expected to play major roles in the Cotswolds.
Willie Mullins has won two of the last three Triumph Hurdles and, despite her Leopardstown setback, plenty will be siding with Lossiemouth to kick-start St Patrick's Day with a popular Irish winner.
|Where||Cheltenham Festival, Cheltenham Racecourse, Gloucestershire|
|When||1.30, Friday 17thh March 2023|
|How to watch||ITV Racing, Racing TV & bet365 Sports Live Streaming|
|Odds||Lossiemouth 15/8, Blood Destiny 3/1, Gala Marceau 9/2, Comfort Zone 10/1, Scriptwriter 16/1, St Donats 20/1|
Lossiemouth went into the Spring Juvenile Hurdle at the Dublin Racing Festival as the leading youngster of the season 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.
Allowing for that, however, she wasn't able to bridge the gap to that rival and it would be dangerous to simply assume a better passage will bring about a turnaround in the form come Cheltenham.
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, 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 Mullins. "Paul thinks he was a little unlucky."
After that outing, it's now 15/8 Lossiemouth for the Triumph Hurdle and 9/2 Gala Marceau.
Cheltenham Festival: Honeysuckle
Cheltenham Festival: Galopin Des Champs
The Leopardstown race didn't go how he thought it might, but with Tekao behind in third spot, it was still a one-two-three for Team Mullins in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle.
Champion jockey he may be, but Townend didn't escape the tongue of his boss after things went against him.
Mullins admitted to luck not being on their side with Lossiemouth, but he was almost more flummoxed that his rider pushed the filly to the pin of her collar to come back and get second prize.
That, felt the champion trainer, might have been the worst thing to come out of the race.
"I just hope it doesn't leave its mark that she had such a hard run from the third-last home. She put in a huge effort for a juvenile filly and that might just leave a mark," said Mullins.
"That's what I'm really worried about and I would have been happier if Paul had maybe just been hands and heels. The writing was on the wall, so what was the point in hitting her.
"He has to have a go to try to win, but to me unless Danny's made a mistake at the last he wasn't going to get to that one."
It was certainly an interesting take on the race from the Closutton maestro and fans of Lossiemouth will be keeping their eyes and ears open for further news on her well-being between now and 17th March and that Triumph Hurdle date with destiny.