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