WINLESS days at the Cheltenham Festival are a rarity for Willie Mullins in recent years but that was the case on Thursday. Normal business resumed first thing Friday.

Or was this normal? A one-two-three-four led home by Lossiemouth in the Triumph Hurdle. Such was domination of all the Mullins squad going into the race this was pretty much expected, but nonetheless, it was a remarkable achievement.

A false start didn’t help a number of these horses, including the winner, who was keen for Paul Townend throughout and the leading rider at the meeting had no choice but to let her roll coming down the hill. She kicked away in the straight and had a comfortable advantage at the last, with old rival Gala Marceau’s bid fading as she had to battle very hard just to get by Zenta, with a break back to Gust Of Wind in third.

“She was keen and Paul, rather than fighting her, let her gallop and just held on to her as much as he could for as long as he could,” Mullins said. “She was actually idling coming up the straight so there could be a little more in the tank.

“She looks like a star mare. But for the traffic problems in Leopardstown she’d be unbeaten.”

Lossiemouth represented the exact trio of winning connections who took this race last year with Vauban. Owner Rich Ricci, initially very emotional with this success, interestingly gave his opinion on the aforementioned Spring Juvenile Hurdle, telling Lydia Hislop: “I didn’t think it was Paul’s fault, I just thought the tactics were wrong and Willie did his best Jose Mourinho impression in looking to blame someone else! So it’s Willie’s fault.

“She is a lovely, lovely filly - she is National Hunt bred and has loads of scope. I’m glad Gala Marceau was second because it franks the form.”

Townend said: “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.”

The general expectation was that Lossiemouth would reverse form with Gala Marceau, though that filly’s rider Danny Mullins reported she had sweated up and was affected possibly more so than others by the messy start.

Zenta ran a fine race in third given this was just her second start for Mullins. Punchestown is likely to be on the agenda for all of the Mullins juveniles next though given their strength in depth, it would be a surprise if at least one didn’t head to Aintree next month to take the Grade 1 contest there.

Skelton and Andrews combine again for 33/1 success

REMARKABLY, Harry Skelton combined with his sister-in-law Bridget Andrews to win the County Hurdle again with a 33/1 shot - this time with Faivoir.

Mohaayed gave the pair a memorable win in 2018 and this was actually Skelton’s fourth win in the race in eight years.

Faivoir and Andrews were no better than 12th coming into the straight, but moving over the favoured near side rail, the eight-year-old responded well to his rider’s urgings to go with Pied Piper, who had challenged on the outside. In a nip and tuck battle to the line, Faivoir just did enough to win the day.

“Dan’s horses generally go for a bit of room and try to get a clear run round, but I actually had a really rough run round,” Andrews said.

“But every time I thought I could switch out, I kind of felt like he was enjoying it - he’s that kind of character; stay in, stay brave, although I wasn’t feeling that brave at the time.

“He jumped great, and downhill I could just sit for a minute. Turning in it all opened up and I knew he would see it out well, although he can be a bit of a character. Dan would say don’t get there too soon, and I probably did get there too soon, but I was getting plenty of weight, so he could see it through.”

You could make a good argument Faivoir was attractively handicapped. He held a mark of 145 for most of last season but after just two runs this term, he was allowed in here of 134. Perhaps that is the sort of treatment needed for the British-trained horses to be competitive in Festival handicaps, but that said, he was still allowed to go off 33/1.

Filey Bay, Sharjah and Ballyadam filled the placings, and each threatening in the closing stages, not least the last mentioned, who travelled like a dream into the straight. He surely has one of these big handicap hurdles in him.