Racing: Hobbs primes Booster for Festival double

As if it was not difficult enough for a horse to win one race at the Cheltenham Festival, Philip Hobbs yesterday signalled his intention to target the doughty old warrior Rooster Booster at two. If all goes to plan, today week the gallant grey will be allowed a lie-in, after having tried to regain his Champion Hurdle crown on Tuesday and before starting to limber up for the County Hurdle, the meeting's traditional finale.

As if it was not difficult enough for a horse to win one race at the Cheltenham Festival, Philip Hobbs yesterday signalled his intention to target the doughty old warrior Rooster Booster at two. If all goes to plan, today week the gallant grey will be allowed a lie-in, after having tried to regain his Champion Hurdle crown on Tuesday and before starting to limber up for the County Hurdle, the meeting's traditional finale.

Win or lose the big one, only injury or ill-health will stop Rooster Booster's ambitious double. The 11-year-old is notably sound in body and mind and the two races are four days apart this year. "I've said all along that if he was a selling hurdler he'd be running 20 times a season," said Hobbs yesterday, "and if he's OK after Tuesday's race it's likely he'll run in the County. It would be even more on the cards if he happened to win the Champion again, as he wouldn't pick up a penalty."

Though Rooster Booster, who is set to carry top weight in the handicap, has finished second in six of his last eight races he has not won for over a year now and the always realistic Hobbs feels that he will not be breaking that habit against younger legs in six days' time. "It seems likely that, at long last this season, he'll have a truly run race when he steps out for the Champion," he said, "but at his age he's certainly not getting any better, so a place finish rather than winning is what I'm expecting. But having said that he's not shown any signs of deterioration at home and seems to be in the form of his life."

It is common enough for horses to run twice at the same Festival and some have done so with marked success. Only last year, Our Armageddon took the Cathcart Chase two days after pulling up in the Arkle Trophy; in 1999 Generosa (one of four horses to double up that year) won the three and a quarter-mile handicap hurdle and less than 24 hours later finished third, beaten half a length under her win penalty, in the Coral Cup; in 1997 Or Royal won the Arkle Trophy and ran third in the Cathcart; and in 1995 Sound Reveille pulled up in the Arkle and won the Grand Annual Chase. The ultimate double act, though, came from the mighty Flyingbolt in 1966. The day after cantering home by 15 lengths in the Champion Chase, he finished third in the Champion Hurdle.

After pleasing Richard Johnson in his spin on the grass at Hobbs's stables near Minehead, where both the lung-opening slopes that the horses face daily in their exercise and the sea air are so bracing, Rooster Booster joined his Cheltenham-bound colleagues for a parade. Here, he was rather upstaged, verbally at least, by the young upstart Gold Medallist, nominated by their trainer as his best prospect of victory next week.

The classy ex-Flat recruit, who beat Brian Boru in a Group Two at Deauville last August, is unbeaten in his three runs in his new career and is one of the favourites for the Royal & SunAlliance Hurdle. In Hobbs's opinion he is likely to be well suited by the drying ground at Cheltenham. "He's always been a good jumper at home and was brilliant from the word go on his debut," he said of the five-year-old, "and he's been in terrific form since his latest win."

Hobbs also gave favourable mention to six-year-old Chilling Place, 20-1 for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle after a dull run at Sandown in January. "He didn't like the soft ground," he said. "I think he's got a much better chance than the betting suggests. I can see him running a very big race."

Kicking King, second favourite for the Gold Cup until he was ruled out of the Festival by incipient illness early last week, may be ruled back in again. The seven-year-old, who also holds an entry in the two-and-a-half mile Daily Telegraph Trophy, scoped badly eight days ago but appears to have adopted something of a Mark Twain role. His trainer, Tom Taaffe, will be clarifying any exaggerations tomorrow. "Things are looking a bit more upbeat," he said yesterday. "I will be issuing a statement on Thursday, by which time we will be a bit wiser."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea