Lil Rockerfeller bids to put down World Hurdle marker at Wetherby

Fri 3 Nov 2017

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By Racinguk.com staff

Neil King is pleased to have been among the winners this week as his stable star Lil Rockerfeller makes his reappearance in the bet365 Hurdle at Wetherby on Saturday.

Registered as the West Yorkshire Hurdle, the three-mile contest is the first chance top-class staying hurdlers get to put their championship claims, a bracket Lil Rockerfeller certainly falls into, having gone agonisingly close in the Stayers' Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.

A double at Fakenham this week has given King hope his string is about to burst into life, and he said: "I am looking forward to starting his season back at Wetherby and it is nice the yard is coming back into form.

"He has had a terrific summer at grass and came back in looking the best he has ever done. He has not missed a beat through the autumn and is fit and ready to go. He will sharpen up for it as he is a lazy and stuffy horse at home which is why we take him hunting now and again.

"Wetherby will be a sharp enough track for him, but it is a good place to start."

He added: "The World Hurdle is the plan for the season, but the Long Walk (at Ascot) would be an important race to take in. He will stay over hurdles this year for sure. We were thrilled to bits with how he improved with every run last year."

Wholestone could lay claim to just about being the best staying novice hurdler in Britain last season, winning two Grade Twos and finishing behind two Irish-trained runners in the Albert Bartlett at the Cheltenham Festival.

Nigel Twiston-Davies started him off in handicap company at Chepstow this season over a trip that was short of his best, so stepping back up to three miles should see him in a better light.

The Naunton trainer said: "We were delighted with his run at Chepstow. It would have been nice to win, but he was close enough (fourth) and the extra half-mile will help. We are hoping he is a World Hurdle horse, but statistically he has got a lot of improving to do. Hopefully he will do, though.

Lil Rockerfeller

Lil Rockerfeller has "not missed a beat through the autumn"

"If he happened to get well stuffed over hurdles there is a chance he could go novice chasing."

One horse having his first run in graded company is Anthony Honeyball's Fountains Windfall. Last time out he dominated a field of classy handicappers at the Grand National meeting and his trainer is using the race to find out whether to remain over hurdles or got chasing.

"He's seven going on eight and I think he'll be better over fences, but this race comes at the perfect time," said Honeyball.

"If he runs a blinder we'll continue over hurdles and the races pick themselves - Newbury, Cheltenham in January and the World Hurdle is the dream. If he shows he's not up to it then we'll use the rest of November to get him ready for fences, he's schooled already and is brilliant.

"Decent ground sees him at his best and I'm really looking forward to it, but I'm not sure how we're giving weight to Lil Rockerfeller!"

Fergal O'Brien's Colin's Sister takes on the boys after a profitable campaign last season in which she won her first four races.

"We wanted to start her off somewhere on nice ground and this race came up," said O'Brien. She'll be more at home taking on the boys over three miles than running against the other mares over two, which was the other option.

"There are mares races coming up for her at Kempton and Cheltenham after this so we'll see how we get on."

Paul Nicholls runs Ptit Zig, Gayebury represents Evan Williams, while Warren Greatrex's Missed Approach has a run over hurdles before a crack at the Ladbrokes Trophy (formerly the Hennessy Gold Cup).

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