Fair Trade may not have won over hurdles yet, but trainer Alan King is still aiming for the very top by pitching him into the William Hill Dovecote Novices' Hurdle at Kempton.
Two defeats so far does not quite tell the story of Raymond Tooth's chestnut, who made such a bright start for David Elsworth that 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 first appeared for new trainer Paul Nicholls on Newbury's trials day, making good late headway to take second behind Nicky Henderson's classy prospect Chatterbox.
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 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."
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