Fair Trade ready for Dovecote
Alan King says Fair Trade is flying ahead of his run in the Dovecote at Kempton on Saturday.
Fair Trade may have yet to win over hurdles, but trainer Alan King is still aiming for the very top by pitching him into Saturday's William Hill Dovecote Novices' Hurdle at Kempton on Saturday.
Two defeats so far does not quite tell the story of Raymond Tooth's chestnut, who made such a bright start for David Elsworth he even contested Makfi's 2000 Guineas on the third run of his life.
Tenth was what he managed, and Fair Trade failed to get his head in front again for either Elsworth or Hughie Morrison and was switched to King for a spell jumping.
He looked inexperienced in both outings, behind Close Touch at Ascot and another good Flat horse, Poet, at Newbury but proved the sparkle was very much evident when tried in a Kempton "jumpers' bumper" as he quickened right away from Pearl Swan.
King won the Dovecote last year with Grumeti, who went on to be third in the Triumph and won at Aintree.
As he is now six, Fair Trade must instead try to emulate Flown, the last winner of this race and the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham in 1992.
"I am not prepared to risk losing his novice tag for a mere £3,000 at this time of the year, and this has been his target for some time," the Barbury Castle handler told his website, www.alankingracing.co.uk.
"He is in great form and his recent win in a 'jumpers' bumper' has done his confidence the power of good and, though this looks a hot heat, it is a dress-rehearsal for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle at the Festival, so we should find out where we stand."
Lac Fontana was fourth in a Listed race on the level for Nicolas Clement and only first appeared for new trainer Paul Nicholls on Newbury's trials day, making good late headway to take second behind Henderson's classy prospect Chatterbox.
Like the stable's Adonis runner, Irish Saint, Lac Fontana could earn a spot in the JCB Triumph Hurdle if excelling himself.
Nicholls said: "I wouldn't mind if he didn't win, if you know what I mean, as we'd have another novice like (last year's runner-up) Dodging Bullets for next season.
"If he won, he'll definitely go to the Triumph.
"He came into the season a little bit late and lacks a bit of experience but he he ran really well the other day."
Venetia Williams has done a fine job with Brick Red since taking him over from Andrew Balding.
The six-year-old chestnut has been placed to win three handicaps over the course of the last month or so, including the Scottish County Hurdle at Musselburgh.
Now is the time to step up in grade and jockey Aidan Coleman told his Racing UK blog: "He comes here on a four-timer after wins in handicaps and is clearly improving so deserves to be running at this level.
"He enjoyed the flat tracks of Ludlow, Musselburgh and Wincanton this season, so a sharp two miles around Kempton will really suit."