Rockerfeller ruled out of Coral Cup due to ‘impossible task’ at the weights

Neil King has all but ruled Lil Rockerfeller out of appearing in the Coral Cup after stressing the weight he would have to carry would leave him with an almost impossible task.

Rockerfeller ruled out of Coral Cup due to ‘impossible task’ at the weights

Although as short as 10-1 with some betting firms for the two-mile-five-furlong handicap on the second day of the Cheltenham Festival the five-year-old is likely to swerve the contest.

Having proven a model of consistency all season the dual Flat scorer recorded a career-best on Sunday with an impressive victory in the Grade Two National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell.

King said: “He has been great this morning and is bright and fresh. He has eaten up and is sound as a pound.

“I think we will have to draw a line through the Coral Cup as with the weight he will get I think it would be an impossible task.

“I can’t say much more but there might be something new that has entered the equation.

“It is fair to say it was his best performance and if he had been beaten then I would have been an extremely unhappy person.

“What pleased me was the manner in which he did it. He is a very genuine and consistent horse that enjoys his racing.”

While the Upper Herdswick Farm handler has received much of the praise for the success of Lil Rockerfeller this season he believes that equal to his input is the role jockey Trevor Whelan has played. He said: “That was the biggest winner of my career and Trevor’s career. He gave him an excellent ride and used his head in the race.

“He does not get the outside rides he deserves but I can’t speak highly enough of him.

“He knows Lil Rockerfeller inside out and he has got a really good rapport with him. He tries his hardest on every horse and always gives 110 per cent. He is a very underrated jockey.” Warren Greatrex meanwhile has had a change of heart regarding Out Sam’s Cheltenham Festival target with the Ultima Handicap Chase on the first day now looking likely.

Having won at Newbury in good style Greatrex had mooted a crack at the RSA Chase against the best novices but having been allotted a handicap mark of 139 he is set to be in action a day earlier now.

“Out Sam is potentially very well handicapped off 139 given what he did at Newbury and rather than go for the RSA I would be stupid not to try and take advantage of his mark by running him in one of the handicaps,” Greatrex explained in his oddschecker.com blog.

“The form of that Newbury race took a big boost last week when the runner-up Milansbar came out and won a handicap chase by eight lengths at Exeter. We also had the 149-rated Activial 16 lengths behind us that day.

“I had been waiting to step him up to three miles for a while so it was pleasing to see him improve significantly on what he had done previously.

“He’s a really classy horse, so much so that I wouldn’t have any problem running him in the RSA Chase, but, given his mark, the Ultima Handicap looks too inviting an opportunity.”

Out Sam is 10-1 favourite for the Ultima Handicap with William Hill.

Philip Hobbs will leave it as late as possible before deciding which race Garde La Victoire will run in at the Festival.

The seven-year-old, winner of all three of his starts over fences, holds an entry in both the Racing Post Arkle Trophy and the JLT Novices’ Chase.

Although all of Garde La Victoire’s wins since going chasing have come over two miles, the Minehead trainer would not be averse to stepping him up in trip to two and half miles should it be the more suitable option.

Hobbs said: “Garde La Victoire has been left in the Arkle and JLT and it will be a last-minute decision as to which race he runs in.

“He is quite similar in the betting for both races. It just depends on the opposition in each race.

“If the ground came up very soft then he is more likely to run in the Arkle.

“You could say the JLT looks the slightly easier race, but you still have Bristol De Mai in there who we beat first time out at Uttoxeter giving 9lb to. He has done well since then, but then so have we.”

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