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2016 Cheltenham Festival news: Champion mission for Annie and Rockerfeller

David Metcalf | March 9, 2016

Annie Power and Lil Rockerfeller supplemented for Champion Hurdle

Annie Power and Lil Rockerfeller have both been supplemented to run in the Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival at a cost of £20k.

The former shot to the head of Coral’s betting for this feature race on the opening day of the four-day spectacular, following news that stablemate and defending champion Faugheen had been ruled out through injury.

Trained by Willie Mullins, eight-year-old Annie Power has won 10 of her 12 starts over the obstacles and is 13/8 with Coral to become the first mare to win the race since Dawn Run in 1984.

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Trainer Neil King and his group of owners have decided to take their chance in the Grade 1 feature with Lil Rockerfeller, 33/1 with Coral, following the five-year-old’s recent success in the Grade 2 National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell.

King said: “He’s an improving, young horse and it’s so wide open we have to have a go, also the yard is in such good form – from our last 11 runners we’ve had five winners and five seconds.

“Confidence is high, as it is with Trevor [Whelan], our stable jockey, and the owners are playing with prize money so when you weigh it all up, we thought ‘why not?'”

JLT the favoured option for Serge

Connections of L’ami Serge are favouring a crack at the JLT Novices’ Chase rather than the Arkle at the Cheltenham Festival, and Coral have trimmed the Nicky Henderson trained gelding into 8/1 (from 12s) for the 2m 4f contest.

The classy Grade 1 winning hurdler won his first two starts over fences in impressive fashion before suffering a shock defeat when runner-up at Warwick when last seen in action.

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Nico de Boinville is likely to partner the six-year-old as owners Simon Munir and Isaac Souede are also represented by 3/1 favourite Bristol De Mai, who will be ridden by their retained jockey Daryl Jacob.

Anthony Bromley, the owners’ racing manager, said: “He’ll be kept in both races, but it’s more likely he’ll be going for the JLT.

“We’ll keep an eye on the forecast, and may rethink plans, but the owners will probably have two runners in the JLT.

“I would say Daryl will stay on Bristol De Mai – I can’t see him getting off the favourite – and we’d be looking at booking Nico for L’Ami Serge.”

Jacob to make last minute decision on Champion Hurdle ride

Daryl Jacob is in no rush to decide between Top Notch and Peace And Co as his mount in the Champion Hurdle.

Both horses are trained by Nicky Henderson and owned by Simon Munir and Isaac Souede, but retained rider Jacob is unlikely to commit until they have completed their serious final preparations for the Festival.

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Anthony Bromley, racing manager for Munir and Souede, said: “They have both got to get to Cheltenham first. It’s a bit like Ruby Walsh deciding which of the Willie Mullins’ horses to ride – a decision has not been made just yet and Daryl is in no rush.”

Top Notch, who landed the Morebattle Hurdle in impressive fashion at Kelso last month, is 16/1 with Coral for the Champion Hurdle on Tuesday, March 15th.

Peace And Co, who won the Triumph Hurdle at the meeting 12 months ago and has undergone a minor breathing operation since disappointing in two starts this season, is 20/1.

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