Cheltenham New Year’s Day tips: Lots to like about Lil Rockerfeller
David Metcalf | 1 January 2017
Lil Rockerfeller has a huge chance in Relkeel Hurdle
Lil Rockerfeller has posted cracking efforts to finish runner-up on his last two starts and can go one better to gain a deserved big race success in the Grade 2 Relkeel Hurdle at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day (15.10).
In the first of those, the Neil King trained gelding went down fighting by just 3/4 of a length to Yanworth in the Grade 2 Coral Hurdle at Ascot.
Lil Rockerfeller made the winner pull out all the stops, and it was a tremendous effort in trying to give 4lb to Alan King’s rising star who has since gone on to land the Grade 1 Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day, to confirm himself a leading contender for the 2017 Champion Hurdle.
The selection backed that up with staying on 4 1/2 length second to Unowhatimeanharry in the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle at the same venue, with the pair pulled 14 lengths clear of the field.
Unowhatimeanharry is also is now unbeaten in his last seven and heads the betting for the World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March, and the form looks rock solid in the context of this lower grade contest.
Lil Rockerfeller is also one of the toughest horses in training and always gives it his best shot and, if it comes down to a battle, is definitely the one to have on your side.
Whisper to silence Dipper rivals
Whisper scored in good style last time out and looks to hold leading claims of following-up in the Grade 2 Dipper Novices’ Chase (13.25).
The Nicky Henderson trained nine-year-old was a top class staying hurdler and overcame a 268 day absence to beat Baron Alco over course and distance last month in the Ryman Novices’ Chase.
After being held-up under a confident Davy Russell, Whisper was produced to take up the running at the last and only had to be driven clear to score with more in hand than the 2 1/2 length winning margin suggests.
It was a most taking display and one which suggested that the gelding would be capable of winning plenty of decent prizes over the larger obstacles.
Although Whisper has to give 5lb to the highly-regarded Clan Des Obeaux, he was rated as high as 167 over hurdles and undoubtedly has the class to do so granted a clear round.
Vyta Du Roc weighted to strike
In the 3m 2f handicap chase (12.50), Vyta Du Roc looks decent value to take advantage of a drop in the weights and land the spoils.
The gelding was a very smart hurdler in 2014/15, finishing a cracking fourth in the Neptune at the Cheltenham Festival, and a solid second to subsequent World Hurdle winner Thistlecrack in a Grade 1 at Aintree off a rating of 150.
Vyta Du Roc then had his attentions switched to chasing last season and, after scoring at Bangor, ran very well to finish second to Bouveril at Doncaster.
This seven-year-old then got back to winning ways when landing Grade 2 Reynoldstown Chase at Ascot, digging deep to fend off the late challenge of the highly regarded Minella Rocco by 1/2 a length.
Vyta Du Roc also ran a blinder last time out when sixth of 19 to Native River in the Grade 3 Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury, and the winner has since gone on to land the Coral Welsh Grand National to give the form a boost.
This is easier and, having been dropped 2lb to a mark of 141, Vyta Du Roc looks weighted to get back to winning ways.
Cheltenham tips for New Year’s Day
12.50: Vyta Du Roc (NB)
14.35: Call To Order
15.10: Lil Rockerfeller (NAP)
15.40: Daphne Du Clos