Latest news from this afternoon’s meeting at Goodwood where Lil Rockerfeller ran away with the opener.
Top-class staying hurdler Lil Rockerfeller made a successful return to the Flat with a dominant display in the Matchbook Betting Podcast Goodwood Handicap.
Neil King’s stable star is a dual Grade Two winner over timber and was only narrowly beaten by Nichols Canyon when runner-up in the Stayers’ Hurdle at the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.
Having his first outing on the level in over three years, Lil Rockerfeller was running off a mark of 81 – some 71lb lower than his hurdle rating – and he was the 11-4 favourite to strike gold under champion jockey Silvestre de Sousa.
The seven-year-old raced on the pace from the start of the two-and-a-half-mile contest – which began with a flag start – and De Sousa committed for home long before the final bend.
Lil Rockerfeller kicked again halfway up the straight and left his toiling rivals trailing in his wake, passing the post 15 lengths ahead of Altaayil, with Imphal a close-up third.
Despite the ease of Lil Rockerfeller’s success, King is keen to embark upon a novice chasing career with the seven-year-old.
The Wiltshire handler said: “It was a joy to watch. He’s had a long summer and Andy Smith, one of his joint-owners, has been hell-bent on winning this race since last year.
“The trouble with the Flat, he will not go in the starting stalls and he’s too nice a horse to battle with.
“He’s such a good hurdler – he’ll be a better novice chaser this year.
“He’s hard and fit and ready to get to war when the races are there.”
King added: “Fifteen lengths must be a record here. It was a fantastic effort from him.
“I enjoy winning the big Flat races like my neighbour, Alan (King) does. It’s lovely to have a horse like him to do it.
“Let’s hope we have a nice novice chase season with him and hope we end up there (Cheltenham) with him.”
The stewards looked into De Sousa’s use of the whip, and ruled he had used it when clearly winning inside the final furlong. He was suspended for two days as a result.
Soto Sizzler lunged late to spring a surprise in the Move Over To Matchbook Handicap.
Market principals Corgi (5-2 favourite) and Making Miracles (4-1) settled down to fight it out entering the final furlong of the mile-and-a-half contest, but William Knight’s 20-1 chance Soto Sizzler picked them both off late on in the hands of Jimmy Quinn.
Corgi was a length away in second, with Making Miracles third.
Quinn, 51, said: “The good ones get you out of trouble and make you look good.
“He was progressing with every start. There was a slight worry about the ground, but he’s coped with it well.”
Knight, who is based in nearby Littlehampton, said: “I’ve loved this horse all along. He is a lovely horse and he is only going to get better with time.
“He will probably get further in time, but he has always been the apple of my eye.
“He was backward last year and he couldn’t get out of his own way on the gallops last year.
“I spoke to the owner in the middle of the summer last year and I said, ‘I just need to chuck him out in a field’, and that has been the making of him.
“I don’t see any need to go up in trip. I think he is a proper horse, but he will probably won’t show his best until next year.”
Owner Ian Heseltine said: “He’s getting better by the week. I had a couple of hundred quid each-way on him. I think we could have a sherbert or two!”