LIL Rockerfeller sets out on what connections hope will be a path towards the World Hurdle when he starts his season in the totepool Silver Trophy at Chepstow on Saturday.
Neil King's stable star might not be very big but he is all heart, as he showed in numerous big handicaps last season.
He also gained his just rewards with victory in the National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell.
That prompted connections to chance their arm and supplement him for the Champion Hurdle and while he cut no ice in that company, King feels it was still the right thing to do with his long-term future in mind.
"His big aim this year is the World Hurdle, even though he's never run over three miles before," said the Wiltshire handler.
"I'm sure he'll improve for it (three miles). All he does is stay, he just simply couldn't go the pace in the Champion Hurdle.
"He'd won the prize-money, though, so we didn't mind supplementing him and I'd rather ran in that than run his heart out over three miles against Thistlecrack.
"Ideally, he'd want the ground softer than it is going to be but given he's got top weight the fact it's not so soft will help him."
Lil Rockerfeller is conceding 9lb to Nigel Twiston-Davies' Grade One-winning novice Ballyoptic, who is also going down the staying hurdling route.
Unusually for one from his yard, though, Twiston-Davies expects his youngster to improve for the run, with his first big aim later in the month at Wetherby.
"He's a very exciting prospect but I expect the trip might just be a little short for him, especially first time out," said Twiston-Davies.
"He might not be quite as fit as some of mine and we are aiming for the three-mile hurdle at Wetherby on Charlie Hall day (West Yorkshire Hurdle), that's his first big target of the season.
"This race should bring him on an awful lot. He'll run well, but he might not be quite sharp enough to win – he's a stayer, really.
"We'll stay over hurdles this season and probably head over fences with him the season after."
Evan Williams' Court Minstrel caused a 40-1 shock in the race 12 months ago and the trainer is represented by the mare Tea In Transvaal, a Listed winner last season.
"You'd be thinking she'd be quite well handicapped on her best form," said Williams.
"She ran well up at Perth and that will have blown away the cobwebs.
"She's a much easier mare to train at this time of year than in the spring, she can get very tricky.
"I thought she ran well for a long way at the Festival (behind Limini) and don't forget she had a penalty there, too.
"She's just a typically tricky mare. When she's on song she's very good and Perth will have really helped her.
"This is obviously a step up in class but she has a nice racing weight.
"I'd much rather she carry 10st than 11st 10lb like Court Minstrel did last year."
Alan King runs Who Dares Wins, fancied for the Triumph Hurdle last year after showing good form earlier in the campaign and a good winner on the level in the summer.
"Who Dares Wins runs here rather than the Cesarewitch," the Barbury Castle handler told www.alankingracing.co.uk.
"He won a class four handicap in spectacular fashion on the Flat at Chester and was not disgraced when beaten only three lengths in a class two at Newbury last month.
"He really strengthened up through the summer, so we are looking forward to getting him back jumping."
Paul Nicholls' Caid Du Berlais returns after missing last season, with former Festival winner Taquin Du Seuil and Dan Skelton's Debdebdeb others to note.
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