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."

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
tvReview: Top Gear team flee Patagonia as Christmas special reaches its climax in the style of Butch and Sundance
News
people
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Mayhew as Chewbacca alongside Harrison Ford's Han Solo in 'Star Wars'
film
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Tracy Emin's 1998 piece 'My Bed' on display at Christie's
artOne expert claims she did not
Arts and Entertainment
Catherine (Sarah Lancashire) in Happy Valley ((C) Red Productions/Ben Blackall)
TV
News
Hackers revealed Oscar-winning actress Lawrence was paid less than her male co-stars in American Hustle
people
Arts and Entertainment
Clueless? Locked-door mysteries are the ultimate manifestation of the cerebral detective story
booksAs a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Sport
Robin van Persie is blocked by Hugo Lloris
footballTottenham vs Manchester United match report
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Panel & Cabinet Wireman

£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...

Recruitment Genius: Electronics Test Engineer

£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?