Grand National 2014: Tony McCoy rides Lac Fontana to victory in opening race to boost his National hopes
9-2 favourite clinched the Pertemps Network Mersey Novices' Hurdle with McCoyset to ride Double Seven in the Grand National
Saturday 05 April 2014
Lac Fontana benefited from a typically power-packed Tony McCoy ride to clinch the Pertemps Network Mersey Novices' Hurdle, the opening race on Crabbie's Grand National day at Aintree.
The Paul Nicholls-trained five-year-old was the 9-2 favourite for the two-and-a-half-mile Grade One, stepping up in class and trip following a similarly determined display in the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
With the champion jockey taking over in the saddle from the sidelined Daryl Jacob, Lac Fontana travelled powerfully but looked to have his work cut out when Splash Of Ginge committed at the top of the home straight.
Dell' Arca and Wilde Blue Yonder were both in the mix, but it turned into a straight shootout after the final flight, with Lac Fontana eventually wearing down Splash Of Ginge to take the prize by a length and a half.
Nicholls said: "He stayed very well at Cheltenham so we thought we'd go two and a half miles on this ground.
"He's tough. He made it hard for himself by missing the last two hurdles but he stayed on a little bit.
"He could end up being a good staying hurdler looking at him, he stays really well.
"It will be interesting next year."
Nicholls went on: "He looks like he'll make a nice staying hurdler next year, but he could just jump a fence.
"I'll keep all options open and I'm not sure there's much left for him this season - maybe there's a Grade One at Punchestown but I haven't really looked into it."
McCoy said: "I felt from three out that he was keeping a bit for himself but when I grabbed a hold of him at the last he picked up.
"He beat a good yardstick in Splash Of Ginge so it is solid form and it was easy enough to ride him.
"I don't see why he wouldn't get further as he does keep a bit for himself and he goes through his races relaxed, he might even be better as he goes further."
The locally-owned Splash Of Ginge again did his connections proud, adding another sizeable chunk of prize-money to go with his victory in the valuable Betfair Hurdle at Newbury.
His trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies said: "He was brilliant again. I thought we'd got it but it wasn't to be this time.
"He's had a smashing season. He'll stop now and go again next season. He'll go chasing."
David Pipe, trainer of third-placed Dell' Arca, said: "He's run a cracking race. He's been very consistent. All year he's been running in the top handicaps. He's only a novice and he'll be a lovely horse for next season.
"He stayed the trip well and we might even step him up in trip again.
"We'll decide whether to stay hurdling or go chasing with him when he comes back.
"He's run in all the good races. He's the ultimate professional."
Alan King secured his third winner of the meeting as Balder Succes played a starring role in the Doom Bar Maghull Novices' Chase.
Winner of the Kingmaker Novices' Chase at Warwick and the Pendil Novices' Chase at Kempton, Balder Succes bypassed last month's showpiece meeting at Cheltenham to ensure he was primed for his trip to Liverpool.
With Next Sensation predictably setting a strong gallop from the outset, Balder Succes was waited with in the hands of Wayne Hutchinson before looming up ominously in the straight.
The 7-2 chance moved stylishly to the lead on the run to the final fence and a spring-heeled leap sealed victory.
Nicky Richards' outsider Simply Ned ran a super race to finish second, beaten four lengths, with 11-4 favourite Trifolium back in third, just as he was in the Arkle Trophy at Cheltenham.
Hutchinson said: "I got in tight to the ditch, but he was very good.
"I set sail and it was do or die - he was very honest and he's come for me all the way to the the line.
"It just took me three fences to hit my rhythm, but when we steadied up going to the back his jumping got me going again."
King said: "He was good today.
"He needed one at the last and got it, his jumping was great all the way round.
"It's paid off not going to Cheltenham with him, he was fresh and well - I'm delighted.
"He could go Punchestown. He gets two and a half miles, but I think he's better over two.
"Early in the season we thought we had to make the running, but we knew there'd be pace on today so we didn't want to do that.
"Fences have made a man of him."
Board creates magnetic field to achieve lift
Like Madonna, Sister Cristina Scuccia's video is also set in Venice
Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'
techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say
Endangered species spotted in a creek in the Qinling mountains
Trend which requires crisps, a fork and a strong stomach is sweeping Mexico's streets
Latest in Sport
Luis Suarez: Lionel Messi is better than Cristiano Ronaldo
Indian footballer Peter Biaksangzuala dies from spine injury after doing somersault celebration
Arsenal vs Hull: Gary Lineker and Piers Morgan lead criticism of Arsene Wenger after 'uncomfortable' interview with Jacqui Oatley
Adel Taraabt criticism from QPR boss Harry Redknapp sparked by player walking out of team meeting prior to Liverpool game
West Brom vs Manchester United player ratings: Saido Berahino scores highest, whilst Marcos Rojo scores lowest
- 3 Drink alcohol and eat meat to improve male fertility - but cut down on coffee, studies suggest
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters
London bus driver 'kicks gay couple off for kissing'
Lord Freud: Tory welfare minister apologises after saying disabled people are 'not worth’ the minimum wage
Lord Freud hangs on as MPs of all parties 'call for his head' over disability comments
£60000 - £70000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...
£25000 - £35000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...
£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Preston: The Job ? This is a new post...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Southampton: We are looking for Primary School ...