Aintree 2015: Injured Jockeys Fund Handicap Hurdle preview (17:15)
Lac Fontana has a touch of class, and looks decent each-way value in the Injured Jockeys Fund Handicap Hurdle at Aintree (17:25), having shaped far better than the bare result last time out.
The Paul Nicholls trained gelding has won four of his 12 starts over hurdles, and they include a game success in the 28-runner 2m 1f County Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2014, where Lac Fontana stayed on strongly to beat Arctic Fire by 1/2 a length off a mark of 139.
That is fine form, as the runner-up has since developed into a very useful sort and chased home Faugheen in the Champion Hurdle when last seen in action.
Lac Fontana went on to follow-up in a Grade 1 contest over 2m 4f at this track off an official rating of 148.
The six-year-old also ran well on his seasonal reappearance when third to Faugheen in the Grade 2 Coral Hurdle at Ascot, and caught the eye last time out when ninth of 25 to Aux Ptits Soins at the Cheltenham Festival.
Although beaten 11 1/4 lengths, Lac Fontana got badly hampered and lost stacks of ground at a crucial stage in a rough run race before sticking on well at the death to be nearest at the finish.
The assessor has since dropped Lac Fontana 2lb to a mark of 149, and is just 1lb higher than when the son of Shirrocco was last successful at this venue.
It gives Lac Fontana a big shout at the weights, especially as connections have shrewdly booked the services of promising jockey Sean Bowen, whose claim takes an invaluable 5lb off his back.
Bowen has a near 26 per cent strike rate for the yard (eight wins and eight placed from 33 rides) so, taking his claim into account, Lac Fontana is weighted to run a big race at a track which clearly suits.
There are plenty of dangers in a wide-open and ultra-competitive affair, including stable companion Katgary.
The five-year-old put in a cracking performance when a 3/4 length runner-up to Hawk High in the class 1 Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival last year off a mark of 130, where he arguably would have won had he not been hampered two from home.
Katgary backed that up with a solid sixth of 22 to Court Minstrel at this track off 137, and bounced back to form last time out when winning at Newbury with far more in hand the winning one-length margin suggests, having idled once hitting the front.
That win will have done Katgary’s confidence the world of good and, although now 6lb higher in the weights, his current mark of 137 looks workable judged on his previous visit to this venue.