WILTSHIRE trainer Neil King scored the biggest win of his training career when his five-year-old hurdler Lil Rockerfeller won his first Graded race at Fontwell yesterday, when taking the National Spirit Hurdle in tremendous style, ridden intelligently by Trevor Whelan.
He waited until he had cleared the second last obstacle before drawing clear and sending him on to win by nine lengths from Ubak, trained by Gary Moore and ridden by son Joshua.
Previous winners of this two mile three furlong £80,000 Grade Two race in recent years have included the French top hurdler Baracouda ( Francois Doumen 2001) and My Way De Solzen ( Alan King 2006).
The five-year-old has progressed well winning four races since he has been sent out in cheekpieces. Neil King was delighted with this victory, worth over £45,000 for connections and said:” “Trevor gave him a smashing ride and he won it nicely. This horse takes his racing well so we will certainly now think about Cheltenham, though he could go to either Aintree or Punchestown.”
There was a disappointing entry for the opening Josh Gifford Memorial Novices Steeplechase. Despite a total prize fund of £20,000, the track in good condition and the going soft, only three horses took part in the race.The only finisher of three in the race was Orbasa, trained by Paul Nicholls and ridden by Noel Fehily.
Nick Gifford- and many others- expressed disappointment at the woeful lack of support by trainers for the race in memory of his father, who had both ridden and trained many winners at the track. He presented the trophy, along with his niece Isabelle, his sister Kristina’s daughter, to winning connections of Obasa after the race.
Trained by Lydia Richards, the 11-year-old grey Venetian Lad is a course and distance winner and had not run for some time because of unsuitable going. But he was as gutsy as ever, and held on to clinch second place from the Gary Moore-trained Golanova, to the delight of his owners.
The Novices’ Hurdle Race was won by King Cool, sent out by Gary Moore and ridden by son Jamie- and the Horsham trainer believes this horse is a chaser in the making. Minehad trainer Philip Hobbs took the Foxhunter Trial with Mendip Express inder a good ride from amateur rider David Maxwell while trainer Charlie Lonsdon’s Wells De Lune, with Richard Johnson on board was never headed in his easy victory in the handicap hurdle.
The National Hunt Flat Race at the end of the meeting saw an impressive win for 6-1 shot King Uther, ridden by Tom Cannon. This is a nice-looking six-year-old which improved on two previous seconds in bumpers, winning by 23 lengths in this race.