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Cheltenham Festival: Willie Mullins' Lossiemouth defies trip concerns to romp to triumph in Mares' Hurdle

Willie Mullins declared Lossiemouth a Champion Hurdle mare after she stormed to victory in the Mares' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival. Also today - Chianti Classico scores in Ultima;

Lossiemouth starred in the Mares' Hurdle at Cheltenham
Image: Lossiemouth starred in the Mares' Hurdle at Cheltenham

Lossiemouth was a straightforward winner of the Close Brothers Mares' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

The top-class five-year-old grey is trained by Willie Mullins in the colours of Rich Ricci, and Paul Townend never had any reason for concern at any stage riding the 8/13 favourite in a field of 11.

Townend was a picture of patience, allowing others to make the running before cruising through to sweep up the hill to an unchallenged success from Telmesomethinggirl aboard a mare who had been talked of as a possible Champion Hurdle contender after her scintillating win on Trials day in January.

Mullins said: "She was great - she's a Champion Hurdle mare, we all think. Once again, Paul was very cool on her and she can improve another year on, when she's a bit older. Running like that, in that ground, she's got everything.

"We made the right decision (not to go for the Champion Hurdle this year). She didn't get a grueller like if she'd been in the Champion Hurdle, she's only five and getting a grueller in the Champion Hurdle is not what you want."

Lossiemouth starred in the Mares' Hurdle at Cheltenham
Image: Lossiemouth starred in the Mares' Hurdle at Cheltenham

He added: "I think I was part of the big roar at the last myself! I never do that normally, but when she went for it I joined in and that isn't normal for me.

"I don't think we'll go to France, I'd have thought it will probably be Punchestown for a mares' race and then after that I'll have a chat to Rich.

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"It's very very nice to have a treble on the first day. Of course we're in a position where we are bringing a big team across, but they have to win and after the Supreme I was worried that it was going to be a day like it was on the first day a few years ago when we had no winners.

"Of course I'm very happy with the day, I can enjoy the rest of the week now."

Ricci said: "Paul did exactly what he told us he was going to do, which was hang back and pick them off. He seemed in the perfect position the whole race and she is just fantastic.

"The plan is the Champion Hurdle next year, let's see if she is up for it, she's been wonderful to own and she'd be undefeated if she hadn't run into trouble at Leopardstown last year.

"I'm delighted with her, we've been very lucky with our mares and she is brilliant."

Regarding this year's Champion Hurdle, Ricci said: "Hindsight is wonderful, we had a plan and we stuck to it. Hopefully we'll be able to go for it next year, we've won the Mares', it's a Grade One so we are delighted."

Chianti Classico steals the show in Ultima

Kim Bailey's Chianti Classico produced a smooth round of jumping to take the Ultima Handicap Chase for David Bass and Kim Bailey.

The gelding was one of two runners in the contest for Bailey, and after Trelawne fell early on it was left to his stablemate to carry the hopes of the yard.

He did so dutifully and travelled well throughout to turn for home full of running and claim victory at 6-1, getting British trainers off the mark for the week.

David Bass celebrates Chianti Classico's Ultima victory
Image: David Bass celebrates Chianti Classico's Ultima victory

Bass said: "It meant a lot, it's actually quite a good feeling to win here. It's a privilege to ride these horses. It's hard to win here though - 2020 was the last time and it's been too long."

Bailey said: "I thought at one stage 'oh no, David is getting too brave', but he jumped for fun and was cantering coming down the hill wasn't he?

"David has been confident the whole way through, so he was right. He was absolutely adamant from day one he was riding this horse (instead of Trelawne). He adores the horse and says he's a complete terrier, and he's done that today like a terrier.

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"He's as hard as nails, he's not very big but he's got so much ability and is so agile, he always has been.

"When Aiden Murphy and I bought him, we said we'd bring him here, but I never thought it would actually happen!

"We've been knocking at the door for a while, so it's great for everybody that we got it today. It's huge for team, having a runner at Cheltenham is what it's all about.

"Today has been the plan for a long time, we trained him for today."

On Bass, he joked: "I'm not sure he's that special, we've been trying to get rid of him for ages. We've got nothing in common, I'm not a vegan anyway!

"He's been a huge supporter of the yard and we've been together for 11 years now. He's a do-or-die pilot and I thought he was quite reserved today!"

Emmet Mullins scores fitting National Hunt Chase success

Trainer Emmet Mullins took the race named in honour of his late grandmother as Corbetts Cross was much the best in the Maureen Mullins National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Jockeys' Novices' Chase.

A 15/8 chance under Derek O'Connor, the chestnut travelled well throughout and let Mr Vango and Gina Andrews make the running.

As the race wore on Corbetts Cross advanced, and up the hill he pulled effortlessly clear of Patrick Mullins and Embassy Gardens (7-4 favourite) to secure a 17-length triumph.

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