King confident as Lil Rockerfeller steps up in trip
Trainer Neil King believes Lil Rockerfeller is well treated ahead of his handicap debut in the £40,000 Doom Bar Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (3.45pm) at Newbury tomorrow, March 21.
The Flat recruit, with Harry Skelton in the saddle for the first time, is among 12 runners for the two mile, three furlong contest and has shaped promisingly in three starts over hurdles so far. He was third on his first two outings and was last seen out when beaten four and a half lengths into second by Devilment at Doncaster on February 18.
King said: “Lil Rockerfeller’s preparation has gone well and he is in really good form.
“He is an improving horse and has done nothing wrong in his three runs over hurdles.
“We missed the Fred Winter at Cheltenham so that we could go for this race. I feel the extra three furlongs will be a help to him.
“Devilment franked the Doncaster form when he was fourth in the Triumph Hurdle and, had we not been badly hampered that day, we would have certainly been closer to him.
“Lil Rockerfeller has finished behind the right horses and I think he is very well treated with 10st 10lb.”
The weights for the Doom Bar Juvenile Handicap Hurdle are headed by Golden Doyen (11st 12lb, Philip Hobbs/Richard Johnson), who won a Grade Two contest at Cheltenham in November.
Storm Force Ten (Andrew Balding/Mr Sam Waley-Cohen) also boasts Grade Two form, having been fourth to Peace And Co at Cheltenham in January, while Bishop Wulstan (Harry Whittington/Paul O’Brien, pictured right) steps up in trip after wearing down Eminent Poet (Venetia Williams/Aidan Coleman) in a two-mile event at the course on February 27.
Other notables include Gimme Five (Alan King/Wayne Hutchinson), who returns to hurdles after two runs on the Flat, Alzammaar (Warren Greatrex/Gavin Sheehan) and Norse Legend (Chris Gordon/A P McCoy).
Newbury’s excellent seven-race card also features the £40,000 Listed EBF & TBA Mares’ “National Hunt” Novices’ Hurdle Finale (2.35pm), a limited handicap over two miles and five furlongs.
Allez Encore (11st 10lb, Kim Bailey/Ed Cookson) heads the weights and is set to face 17 rivals. They include Twentytwo’s Taken (David Pipe/Tom Scudamore), a £150,000 purchase who scored nicely at Exeter last time out, Sandown Park Listed runner-up Rons Dream (Peter Bowen/Donal Devereux) and joint bottom-weight Spartan Angel (10st 11lb, Nicky Henderson/Barry Geraghty).
The most valuable race of the day is the £50,000 DBS Spring Sales Bumper (4.20pm), which has been won in the past by Diamond Harry (2007 & 2008) and Montbazon (2011).
Nicky Henderson sent out Gaitway to claim the spoils 12 months ago and is relying on the unraced Cultivator (Barry Geraghty) this time around. Ffos Las scorer Nansaroy (Conor Ring) is one of two runners for Evan Williams, while Alan King runs The Unit (Wayne Hutchinson), who was third in a good bumper at Kempton Park on February 6.
Coneygree, who landed the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup in tremendous style on March 13, will parade shortly before the Ultima Business Solutions Silver Jubilee Handicap Chase (3.10pm).
Trained locally to Newbury at Letcombe Bassett by Mark Bradstock, Coneygree was the first novice to win the Grade One contest for 41 years.
Coneygree scored twice at Newbury this season prior to his Cheltenham success, taking the Grade Two Fuller’s London Pride Novices’ Chase on November 28 and the Grade Two Betfair Denman Chase on Betfair Super Saturday, February 7.
His stablemate and half-brother Carruthers, winner of the 2011 Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury, is a declared runner in the £20,000 Ultima Business Solutions Silver Jubilee Handicap Chase (10 runners) over an extended three and a quarter miles.