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Lossiemouth poised for starring role on final day of Punchestown

Lossiemouth poised for starring role on final day of Punchestown
Lossiemouth poised for starring role on final day of Punchestown

All eyes at Punchestown on Saturday will be on Lossiemouth in the Coolmore N.H. Sires Bolshoi Ballet Irish EBF Mares Champion Hurdle.

The Willie Mullins-trained grey has been beaten only once in eight runs under rules, capping last season with a Cheltenham-Punchestown Festival double at Grade One level.

She reappeared this year in running away with the Unibet Hurdle at Cheltenham on Trials day, after which she returned to the Cotswolds to take the Close Brothers Mares’ Hurdle by three lengths, with connections having resisted the temptation to go for the Champion Hurdle.

Rich Ricci’s charge has not run since, as she was not entered at Aintree, and lines up at Punchestown with a huge reputation to maintain.

Mullins is happy with her build up, saying: “She’s in good order, she comes here in good form. I hoping she’ll run to her rating and hopefully that will be enough.”

Opposing Lossiemouth will be two horses in the blue and white silks of Kenny Alexander, one of whom is the Henry de Bromhead-trained Telmesomethinggirl.

The nine-year-old was last seen finishing a valiant second to Lossiemouth at the Cheltenham Festival and will likely run her final race at Punchestown as she has since scanned in foal to Blue Bresil.

“She’s a wonderful mare and she’s actually in foal to Blue Bresil as we speak, so this is almost certainly her last race,” said Peter Molony, racing manager to Alexander.

“She’s up against a monster in Lossiemouth, she’s a Grade Two winner and she’s been second in a Grade One and we’d desperately love her to win a Grade One on her last run.

“It’s probably a tall order, but if she’s in the first two or three we’ll be absolutely delighted.

“She was incredibly unlucky a few years ago here when she got brought down, Rachael (Blackmore) felt she had the winning of the race that day.

“We’d really, really love her to win a Grade One, it would mean an awful lot, but as long as she comes home safe – she owes us nothing.”

Alexander also owns Gala Marceau, the only horse to ever beat Lossiemouth when the two stablemates met in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle at Leopardstown in February last year.

That run was part of a strong juvenile campaign last term, but the five-year-old has not hit the same heights this time, finishing third in both the Yorkshire Rose Mares’ Hurdle and the Quevaga Mares’ Hurdle and then sixth at the Festival.

“She’s been a bit disappointing for us this year, she was wonderful last year and she won two Grade Ones” said Molony.

“They seem happy with her at Willie’s, so fingers crossed she coming back into herself now.

“It’s in there somewhere, but it was Willie who said himself that these juveniles often find it hard the following season, so maybe she’ll just need this season and come back next year.”

The rest of the field is trained by either De Bromhead or Mullins, with the former also set to saddle Cheltenham third Hispanic Moon and the latter represented by Ashroe Diamond.

Alexander then has a real chance with Kargese in the Ballymore Champion Four Year Old Hurdle, run over two miles at Grade One level.

The four-year-old, trained by Mullins, has had a good season so far when never finishing out of the top two in four runs at graded level.

A Grade One victory in the Spring Juvenile Hurdle was followed by two second-placed runs in the Triumph at Cheltenham and the Boodles Anniversary 4-Y-O Juvenile Hurdle at Aintree.

“She’s been incredible, she’s obviously got an unbelievable engine,” said Molony of the filly.

“She was galloping all over the winners in both the Triumph and at Aintree, she just ran out of steam a bit as she’s quite buzzy.

“It takes a while to try to get her settled but she was better in Aintree, she still pulled quite hard so to have gone the way she has, she must have a serious engine.”

Mullins and Alexander also team up in the race with Miss Manzor, who takes a step up to Grade One level after finishing third in the Grade Two O’Driscoll’s Irish Whiskey Juvenile Hurdle at Fairyhouse early last month.

Molony said of the bay: “They seem very happy with her in Closutton and if she ran into a place we’d be over the moon.”

The winner of the Fairyhouse race, Bottler’secret, lines up for Gavin Cromwell and Joseph O’Brien’s Nurburgring is also among the more fancied runners.

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