By Andy Stephens
Lil Rockerfeller finished third in the £40,000 contest 12 months ago, when burdened with a double penalty, and went on to run a string of excellent races without managing to get his head in front.
He finished runner-up in the Coral Hurdle (behind Yanworth), Long Walk Hurdle (Unowhatimeanharry) and Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival - when beating all bar Nichols Canyon.
"Lil Rockerfeller is very, very well and is ready to go on Saturday,” King said. "It has been the plan all along to start at Wetherby and it looks the ideal starting point for the season. He is more forward this time around than he has been in the past.
"The plan is to remain over hurdles and he will follow a similar programme to last year with the main aim being the Stayers' Hurdle again.
"For me, the second most important race of the season for him will be the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot [in December], which is another nice prize to go for."
Lil Rockerfeller is Evens with the sponsor for the bet365 Hurdle, who make the Paul Nicholls-trained Ptit Zig the 9-4 second favourite.
Aux Ptits Soins, available at 10-1, will make his first start since joining Dan Skelton. The John Hales-owned seven-year-old made a successful British debut for multiple champion trainer and Skelton’s former mentor Paul Nicholls in the Coral Cup at the 2015 Cheltenham Festival.
He has only run six times in over two and a half years since, but has added to his tally with a chase victory at Kelso and found only high-class stablemate Zarkandar too strong in the Rendlesham Hurdle at Haydock last February.
Aux Ptits Soins will make his first appearance since finishing down the field in the Liverpool Hurdle at Aintree in April in a Grade Two contest registered as the West Yorkshire Hurdle.
Skelton’s brother and stable jockey, Harry Skelton, said: “He makes his debut for us and we are very lucky to inherit a good class horse. He is in good form and should run well.”
bet365 Hurdle - sponsor bets: Evs Lil Rockerfeller; 9-4 Ptit Zig; 6-1 Silsol, Wholestone; 10-1 Aux Ptits Soins; 16-1 Fountains Windfall; 20-1 Colin's Sister, Gayebury; 28-1 Missed Approach; 66-1 others.