Lounaos leads triumph hopefuls

Eoin Griffin’s filly Lounaos heads 41 acceptors at the confirmation stage for the JCB Triumph Hurdle on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival.

Eoin Griffin’s filly Lounaos heads 41 acceptors at the confirmation stage for the JCB Triumph Hurdle on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival.

A winner of her first two starts over timber, she stepped up on that form markedly by finishing fourth behind Hardy Eustace and Brave Inca in the AIG Europe Champion Hurdle on her last outing.

The home defence is headed by Alan King’s admirable Katchit, who has only suffered one defeat in six starts over hurdles.

That came at the hands of Howard Johnson’s Degas Art, who is set to reoppose again having remained unbeaten in three races.

The Irish challenge is supplemented by Kevin O’Brien’s Duty, formerly trained by Sir Michael Stoute on the level, the Willie Mullins trio of J’Y Vole, Financial Reward and Jayo, while John Murphy’s Convincing has won three from four.

Jonjo O’Neill’s Mountain, eighth in the Derby when with Aidan O’Brien, stands his ground despite having only raced once over hurdles while Mobaasher and Lightening Strike are other useful performers off the level who could attempt to go for glory.

David Pipe has left in Pauillac, Laustra Bad and Raslan while champion trainer Paul Nicholls could run Artadi or Poquelin.

Nicky Henderson’s Punjabi and Francois Doumen’s Parrain are other interesting entries.

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