Lovcen (right) outbattles Fingal Bay in the Sefton at Aintree on FridayPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Lovcen denies Fingal Bay in Sefton showdown
Report: Aintree, Friday
John Smith's Sefton Novices' Hurdle (Grade 1) 3m½f, 4yo+
LOVCEN got the better of the unbeaten Fingal Bay in a momentous battleup the Aintree straight.
Level when jumping the last, the Alan King trained seven-year-old out stayed the favourite to record the trainer's second winner of the festival.
The front two pulled well clear of the rest with the John Ferguson trained Cotton Mill a distant third.
The race was run at a decent gallop throughout with the eventual winner and runner-up happy to sit just off the pace.
The race sparked to life when Makethe Mostofnow fell at the fourth, bringing down Golden Call in the process and forcing others to take evasive action, including jockey Richard Johnson on board Fingal Bay.
The pace increased around the back straight second time round with the front three pulling clear of rivals four out.
The favourite seemed to be travelling the best, but the winner found plenty off the bridle and outjumped his challenger over the final two hurdles, eventually pulling clear to win by 1¾ lengths.
Surprised: trainer Alan KingPICTURE: Edward Whitaker
Winning trainer Alan King said: “He’s very tough. He was placed at Cheltenham and we came here hoping he’d run very well, but he’s surprised us. He was off the bridle a long way but he’s kept finding.”
There were no excuses for the favourite who travelled strongly throughout, but just couldn’t stay with the winner after the final hurdle.
The race continues to be a graveyard for favourites, with Black Jack Ketchum the last one to oblige back in 2006.