Champion challenge for Lil Rockerfeller

Lil Rockerfeller will bid for Champion Hurdle glory on the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival.

Thursday, 10th March 2016, 4:16 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 6:31 pm
Lil Rockerfeller and his team celebrate their National Spirit Hurdle win at Fontwell. Picture: Clive Bennett/

Trainer Neil King revealed the plan after supplementing his National Spirit Hurdle winner at Monday’s six-day stage.

In the wake of the Grade 2 
success at Fontwell, speculation suggested a tilt at the Coral Cup or World Hurdle was on the cards.

But King, who is based in Wiltshire, has changed tack to target Tuesday’s feature race with his five-year-old son of Hard Spun.

‘We entered him in the Coral Cup and the World Hurdle but handicaps are out now and he’s never run over three miles,’ said the trainer.

‘I had a chat with the owners and they were excited by the idea but we said we would still head for the National Spirit as that had always been the plan.

‘If he had got beaten at Fontwell, I would have shot myself. But the manner of his victory was very impressive.

‘He’s an improving, young horse and it’s so wide open we have to have a go. The yard is in such good form, too.

‘Everyone tells you how hard it is for five-year-olds and by now I expected him to be running over three miles but he just keeps on improving.’

The Grade 1 Champion Hurdle goes to post at 3.30pm, with Pulborough-based jockey Leighton Aspell set to partner Robert Walford’s Camping Ground.

William H Bonney, who was second to Clondaw Cian in a Fontwell bumper in November, is likely to go for glory in the opening race – the Grade 1 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle (1.30pm).

Katie Too, who got off the mark over hurdles at the West Sussex course in December, is among the entries for the Grade 1 David Nicholson Mares’ Hurdle (4.10pm).