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  • 16:15 John Smith's Sefton Novices' Hurdle 3m 110y

  • (Grade 1) £100,000 added 4yo+ 19 ran
  • Winner £56,270 2nd £21,200 3rd £10,610 4th £5,300
  • Going: Good, Good to Soft in places
  • Surface: Turf
    Weighed In
  • Winning time: 6m 16.40s
  • Off time: 16:15:12

Lovcen bags Sefton prize

Improving stayer picks up Grade One feature

Last Updated: 13/04/12 6:19pm

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Lovcen (R) upsides Fingal Bay over the last

Lovcen (R) upsides Fingal Bay over the last

The Alan King-trained Lovcen ended the unbeaten record of Fingal Bay in the John Smith's Sefton Novices Hurdle at Aintree.

The seven-year-old was fourth in the Neptune at Cheltenham but relished an even stiffer test in the Grade One contest, run at a hectic pace throughout.

Fingal Bay caught the eye some way out under Richard Johnson and jumped to the front five flights from the finish, joined by the strong-travelling Cotton Mill.

But Thornton worked his way into it on the 8/1 winner and threw down a strong challenge at the second last as Cotton Mill backed out of it.

In what became a prolonged battle, Lovcen finally got the better of the argument after the last, pulling away by a length and threequarters from the 13/8 favourite, with Cotton Mill (6/1) 11 lengths further back.

"He's very tough," said King. "We were very pleased at Cheltenham and we came here hoping he would run very well, but that surprised me a little. He was off the bridle a long way and kept on finding.

"That's very special. He has a real good bunch of owners and I'm so chuffed for them. I had to get an owner for him halfway through the season and we got a few mates together. It means a lot."

Philip Hobbs was pleased with the performance of Fingal Bay, adding: "Richard (Johnson) felt he was maybe in front for a long time and didn't quite get home, but he's still run a very good race and they (first two) were a long way clear of the rest.

"I think it's unlikely he'll go to Punchestown because of the timing and I'd imagine he'll go novice chasing next season."

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