No fairytale Festival success for Lil Rockerfeller

Lil Rockerfeller and Trevor Whelan on their way to glory in the National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell last month. Picture: Clive Bennett/polopictures.co.uk
Lil Rockerfeller and Trevor Whelan on their way to glory in the National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell last month. Picture: Clive Bennett/polopictures.co.uk

Lil Rockerfeller was no match for the stunning Annie Power in the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham Festival yesterday.

The five-year-old son of Hard Spun, who won the Grade 2 National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell last month, finished seventh as the stellar mare claimed a famous victory.

Lil Rockerfeller and his team celebrate their National Spirit Hurdle success at Fontwell last month. Picture: Clive Bennett/polopictures.co.uk

Lil Rockerfeller and his team celebrate their National Spirit Hurdle success at Fontwell last month. Picture: Clive Bennett/polopictures.co.uk

Lil Rockerfeller was supplemented for the Grade 1 battle last week – with trainer Neil King and connections keen to take their chance in the two-mile showdown.

However, the 157-rated gelding – who was sent off at 20/1 – never settled in the hands of jockey Trevor Whelan and began to weaken with two flights still to jump.

He finished 20 lengths behind the rampant Annie Power, who was also supplemented for the race last week after an injury to reigning champion Faugheen.

She became the first mare since Flakey Dove in 1994 – and only the fourth ever – to win the race as she made all to beat My Tent Or Yours by four-and-a-half lengths and justify her position as the 5/2 favourite.

The victory was the second in a hat-trick for trainer Willie Mullins and jockey Ruby Walsh on the opening day of the four-day Festival.

Hot-favourite Douvan won the Arkle at 1/4, while Vroom Vroom Mag was the 4/6 winner of the OLBG Mares’ Hurdle.

Former Fontwell winners Flute Bowl (11th) and Lily Waugh (14th) failed to land a blow in the latter for trainers Gary Moore and Anthony Honeyball respectively.

The traditional curtain-raiser – the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – was won by Altior at 4/1.

Mullins and Walsh had to settle for second place with 15/8-favourite Min as Nicky Henderson’s charge cruised to glory by seven lengths.

Wiltshire trainer Alan King saddled William H Bonney, who was second to Clondaw Cian in a Fontwell bumper in November, to 10th spot at 50/1.

Minella Rocco took the National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup for Jonjo O’Neill at 8/1.

The feature race on today’s card is the Queen Mother Champion Chase (3.30pm).

Favourite Un De Sceaux will take on former winners Dodging Bullets, Sprinter Sacre and Sire De Grugy, who is trained in West Sussex by Moore.