King excited by Rockerfeller return

Lil Rockerfeller and Trevor Whelan on their way to victory in the National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell in 2016. Picture: Clive Bennett
Lil Rockerfeller and Trevor Whelan on their way to victory in the National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell in 2016. Picture: Clive Bennett
Fontwell Park. Picture: Allan Hutchings (102607-077)

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Adrien Du Pont won his chase debut at Fontwell earlier this month. Picture: Fontwell Park Racecourse

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Neil King is relishing the opportunity to unleash Lil Rockerfeller at Wetherby on Saturday.

The Marlborough trainer has entered his stellar staying hurdler in the Grade 2 bet365 Hurdle over three miles (2.40pm).

And King believes the six-year-old son of Hard Spun is in better form than when he finished third in the contest 12 months ago.

Lil Rockerfeller, who won the Grade 2 National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell in 2016, went on to finish second in the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot last December.

He then finished runner-up to Nichols Canyon by less than a length in the Grade 1 Stayers’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March.

King has pencilled the American-bred gelding in for a similar campaign this season, ruling out a switch to fences.

Lil Rockerfeller is very, very well and is ready to go on Saturday

Neil King

And after a lacklustre effort in the Grade 1 Champions Stayers Hurdle at the Punchestown Festival last time out, he is eager to see the talent back to his best in Yorkshire.

King said: ‘Lil Rockerfeller is very, very well and is ready to go on Saturday.

‘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, which is another nice prize to go for.’

Lil Rockerfeller is currently the 6/4 favourite for the bet365 Hurdle, formerly known as the West Yorkshire Hurdle. He is one of 12 entries.

Somerset trainer Paul Nicholls could bid for a fourth success in six years with French Grade 1 scorer Ptit Zig and reigning champion Silsol, who has not raced since capturing the prize last year.

Meanwhile Cue Card, who launched his illustrious career with a Fontwell bumper win in 2010, is among 13 entries for Saturday’s feature race – the Grade 2 bet365 Charlie Hall Chase.

Now 11, Colin Tizzard’s King’s Theatre gelding is an 11/4 second favourite behind Coneygree for the high-class three-mile battle.

Racing returns to Fontwell on Friday, November 10 with the Winner Race Day. Gates open at 11.10am with the first race due off at 1.10pm.

For more information or to book tickets, visit fontwellpark.co.uk or call 01243 543335.