Lil Rockerfeller redirected to Stayers' Hurdle as chasing plans are shelved
Lil Rockerfeller will return to hurdling for the remainder of this season, with connections targeting the Sun Racing Stayers' Hurdle for a third time.
At the start of the campaign the eight-year-old was sent chasing, and started well with three consecutive victories. But an early unseat at Cheltenham last month was followed by a third-placed effort in an Ascot Grade 2 where he made another notable error.
That has led to a change in tack, and trainer Neil King is now readying his stable star for the switch back to hurdles.
Speaking at Wincanton on Thursday, King said: "He didn't disgrace himself over fences, but if he was to stay chasing he's got to keep going up in grade and the competition will get better and his jumping might not stand up. If you could imagine him in the RSA in a big field going hell for leather, he might be in trouble."
In 2017 Lil Rockerfeller only found Nichols Canyon too good in the Stayers' Hurdle, and although unable to replicate that effort in the race last year when well beaten in 13th behind Penhill he is set to tackle it again and will be given one or two prep runs.
"He's in great form. He went hunting on Tuesday and jumped this, that and everything else, while Wayne [Hutchinson] is coming in tomorrow to school him back over hurdles," King added.
"He'll be entered in the Cleeve and we hope to run there and then the Stayers'. We'll look at the Cleeve and then think about the National Spirit but can we do everything?"
Also among the entries was Magners Cheltenham Gold Cup hopeful Bristol De Mai, whose next outing is likely to be over hurdles at Haydock in the Rendlesham.
Explaining the entry, trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies said: "It's just in case he wins his next race by miles then we could change our mind, but it's very unlikely."
There were 51 entries received for the Stayers' Hurdle on Thursday, with the race dominated by a record number of Irish possibles.
Last year's winner Penhill is one of 11 potential runners for Willie Mullins, with 23 of the entries trained in Ireland.
It was a similar story with entries for the Grade 1 OLBG Mares' Hurdle, with 14 of the 30 entries coming from Ireland, including the last two winners of the race Benie Des Dieux and Apple's Jade.
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