Cheltenham County Hurdle winner Lac Fontana added an Aintree triumph to that success by coming with a dashing late challenge to win the Pertemps Mersey Novices Hurdle in the first race on Grand National day.
Lac Fontana, galvanised by Tony McCoy, challenged the leader Splash Of Ginge at the final flight and by the half-furlong point the five-year-old hit the front and wasn’t for catching.
Splash Of Ginge, Newbury’s Tote Gold Trophy winner, held on for second place to fend off the challenge of Dell’ Arca.
Lac Fontana, trained by Paul Nicholls, was sent off the 9-2 favourite and prevailed by a length-and-a-half
Outsider Monkey Kingdom cut out much of the early running, but faded on the turn for home.
Oscar Hoof was in contention when he took a crashing fall with Barry Geraghty at the third-last flight.
Nicholls said of Lac Fontana’s win: “He stayed very well at Cheltenham so we thought we’d go two and a half miles on this ground.
“He’s tough. He made it hard for himself by missing the last two hurdles but he stayed on a little bit.
“He could end up being a good staying hurdler looking at himm - he stays really well.
“It will be interesting next year.”