KING FONTAINE got off the mark in style last time and should be up to defying a penalty ahead of Frosty Lad and Finlay. Malcolm Jefferson's gelding had some very solid looking bumper form when trained by Paul Nicholls and showed promise on hurdling debut when taking third behind Bensalem at Cheltenham. The horse then failed to build on those efforts before switching yards but immediately went some way to repaying connections when readily landing a novice hurdle over slightly further last time. The field were very well strung out behind that day and if the six-year-old lines up in this moderate race in similar form he will surely go close to adding to his tally. Should the slight drop in trip scupper the chances of the likely favourite then perhaps Frosty Lad can take advantage for Ferdy Murphy and Graham Lee. The gelding won a maiden point back in the spring before making a modest introduction under rules when well held over shorter at this track. Today's longer trip should suit the five-year-old though and with the stable in form he rates the main danger to our selection. Finlay is another who needs to step up on the form he's shown so far but may well do so now dropped in trip and facing softening conditions. The gelding is related to a number of horses who have shown their best form on soft ground so conditions should suit Donald McCain's charge who has so far struggled in similar company to that faced here. Apache Blue merits respect representing powerful connections and although this one has been held in bumpers it is interesting that the gelding was sent off a well-backed favourite for the first of them before trailing home in tenth. Off the track since February the market may tell us more about this one and similar comments apply to South America for O'Neill and McCoy. This Montjeu gelding showed signs of ability in a soft ground bumper and may improve for the switch to obstacles in a moderate affair. An ordinary race that is at the mercy of King Fontaine.
King Fontaine (IRE) 7-4fav (10-12) Always prominent on inside, led 2 out, ridden, stayed on well flat, won at Hexham 2m 4f nh nov hdl (4) gs in Nov beating Qbuster (10-12) by 2 3/4l, 10 ran.
Apache Blue (IRE) 16-1 (10-13) Tracked leaders, outpaced halfway, driven and weakened over 3f out, 5th of 11, 27l behind Southerness (11-1) at Catterick 2m mdn NH flat (6) gd in Feb.
Bob Will (IRE) 80-1 (10-12) In touch, hampered 6th, outpaced 2 out, soon ridden and weakened, 6th of 10, 45l behind King Fontaine (10-12) at Hexham 2m 4f nh nov hdl (4) gs in Nov.
Finlay 7-2 (10-12) Led, headed 3 out, soon weakened, 4th of 8, 38l behind Good Old Thyme (10-12) at Leicester 2m 4f nh nov hdl (4) gd in Nov.
Frosty Lad (IRE) 12-1 (10-12) Held up behind until driven and kept on from 2 out, never nearer, 8th of 13, 24l behind The Giant Bolster (10-12) at Market Rasen 2m 3f nh nov hdl (4) sft in Nov.
South America (NZ) 10-1 (11-0) Held up, weakened 3f out, 5th of 9, 24l behind Peddlers Cross (11-0) at Haydock 2m NH flat (4) sft in Nov.
Switched Off 25-1 (10-9) Mid-division, ridden and outpaced 2 out, never on terms, 6th of 13, 19l behind The Giant Bolster (10-12) at Market Rasen 2m 3f nh nov hdl (4) sft in Nov.
Tequilla Bob (IRE) 6-1 (11-7) Made all, 1l adv & mstk 3out, went 5l clr bef last, sow, won at Ballydurn 3m ire ptp in Apr '08 beating Stress (11-7) by 6l, 10 ran.
Young Buddy 100-1 (10-12) Mid-division, never on terms, 9th of 15, 35l behind The Knoxs (10-7) at Newcastle 2m nh nov hdl (4) gs in Nov.
Shayaza 6-1 (10-8) Chased leaders, chased winner 5f out, kept on, no chance with winner, 2nd of 10, 35l behind Titus Andronicus (10-10) at Market Rasen 2m 1f NH flat (6) gd in Apr.