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Press Release 17th March 2023 Cheltenham


Friday 17th March

As well as being Gold Cup Day, day four of The Festival is also St Patrick’s Day this year and it began perfectly for the Irish when 11-8 Favourite Lossiemouth came home the two and a quarter lengths winner of the opening Grade One JCB Triumph Hurdle in the hands of Paul Townend.

It was a 1-2-3 for The Festival’s most successful trainer Willie Mullins with Gala Marceau (2nd) and Zenta (3rd) filling the places.

Mullins now has 93 Festival wins. This was his fourth JCB Triumph Hurdle success.

Willie Mullins said: “Rather than fighting Lossiemouth, Paul let her gallop, and he just 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 mare. But for the traffic problems she encountered at Leopardstown [in a G1 on 4 February], she’d be unbeaten - for us, anyway.

“I’m very happy with how they all they ran, apart from Blood Destiny, who was disappointing - I don’t know what happened, I’ll have to talk to Patrick [Mullins, jockey]. This was a nice start to the day.”

Paul Townend told ITV Racing: “It wasn’t ideal at that stage in the race to be honest [that she was pulling my arms out at the top of the hill], but I wasn’t going to fight her too much, she was throwing her head about a bit, 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, I thought, was having a little look around up the straight.

“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.”

Rich Ricci, husband of winning owner Susannah Ricci, said: “I was saying it afterwards that I just felt unlucky on the day. I’m delighted that the one that beat us (at the Dublin Racing Festival) Gala Marceau was second. 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 (Townend) 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 that pulling back as it shows maturity and professionalism. When he let her go it was just brilliant up the hill. I’m glad for him (Paul). I think on the day (at Leopardstown) Paul was gutted. Sport is about redemption, and I’ve said that before. She is National Hunt bred so I’m not sure (about switching codes).

She was one from one at Auteuil. I think she has got enough boot to go on the flat but my view would be to go to Punchestown and put her away for next season. 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. You are asking me the same question that Willie asked me about going to the flat with her and I’m not sure we have to. Vauban is a better question to go on the flat with him because he has some scope on the flat and has a good rating on the flat.

“For the time being Punchestown is the next thing for Lossiemouth and we will take it from there.

“I just think it is great to part of this. Tuesday was such a special day and it has been an emotional week. Even yesterday with Henry winning and the Jack de Bromhead race. It was very emotional and it is an emotional week and it is  great to be part of it. To have a winner on a week like this is special. It is our 20th winner here which is special and you don’t take it for granted. When you win one you appreciate it as we have had enough losers.”

Kenny Alexander, owner of runner-up Gala Marceau, 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."

Frank Berry, racing manager to J P McManus, owner of third placed Zenta, said: "She has jumped well and run a great race. We just bumped into a couple too good on the day. we will see how she comes out of this race before thinking ant plans for the rest of the season."

1.30pm JCB Triumph Hurdle (Grade 1) 2m 1f

  1. Lossiemouth 11/8F
  2. Gala Marceau 10/3
  3. Zenta 12/1


15 ran

Time: 4m 6.94s

Distances: 2¼, nk

27th winner at The Festival for jockey Paul Townend

93rd winner at The Festival for trainer Willie Mullins

20th winner at The Festival for owner Susannah Ricci


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