Racing: Illustrious company awaits Rooster

There remains an element of romanticism in National Hunt racing and a component is the grey vote, an appreciation of any successful silver horse. In recent times, this congregation has included the great Desert Orchid, Teeton Mill and One Man, while the banner is currently flourished by the Champion Hurdle victor, Rooster Booster.

It is also a badge to Philip Hobbs's gelding that he has proved his skill in relative old age. Nothing gains as much admiration as a creaking hero.

Confirmation came yesterday that the near 10-year-old would be embarking on yet another season at his favourite Prestbury Park premises on Saturday week in the Bula Hurdle. It had been mooted that Rooster Booster would begin his tour in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle last month, but events conspired against.

"The Bula Hurdle is the plan for Rooster Booster," Hobbs said yesterday. "The ground was a bit too quick at Newcastle and also it was going to cause us jockey problems as we knew Richard [Johnson] was going to be at Newbury. It didn't really suit the owner [Terry Warner] as well come to that so it was easier to wait for Cheltenham," Hobbs continued.

Rooster Booster embarked last year on a handicap trail. That avenue is now blocked off and selecting his programme is not a complex problem. "Rooster Booster is now rated 170 and there just aren't the options for him that there were last year - that's the only difference," Hobbs added. "Everything is possible - he improved enormously last year so we hope that he might have done again. But obviously he is getting older."

Rooster Booster got the better of Landing Light in the Bula last year and would join an illustrious band of hurdlers if he can repeat the feat - Comedy Of Errors (1973 and 1974), Birds Nest (1977, 1978 and 1980), Large Action (1994 and 1996) and Relkeel (1997, 1998 and 1999) being the only multiple winners of the race.

Shape was yesterday given to another big race, one tomorrow, when it was announced that Jonjo O'Neill's Keen Leader would make his seasonal reappearance in the Rehearsal Chase at Chepstow.

The well-regarded seven-year-old also holds an entry in the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown the following day, but a spokeswoman for Jackdaws Castle confirmed the gelding will head to Wales instead.

One of last season's top novices when he won three of his four completed starts, Keen Leader has not been seen since finishing a disappointing fifth in the Royal & SunAlliance Chase at Cheltenham in March.

The decision to go to Chepstow will have the billstickers in action. Keen Leader's presence sets up a fascinating clash of the generations with the 13-year-old veteran See More Business, who seeks a fourth victory in the race.

The John Durkan can just about tolerate the loss of Keen Leader, as there are plenty of other equine celebrities to go around. Tiutchev is one and he will be partnered by a human monolith of the sport in Tony McCoy, who regains the seat on the 10-year-old.

Rodi Greene rode Martin Pipe's gelding on his reappearance over hurdles at Chepstow last month, but McCoy partnered him to his only success last season at Ascot and is hopeful of a big run.

"Two miles to two-and-a-half miles on a right-handed track really suits Tiutchev and he has been one of the top-rated chasers in this country for a number of years," the jockey said. "Beef Or Salmon is obviously a classy rival, but we go there hopeful of a big run."

This will be McCoy's first Durkan mount and Tiutchev will be the first British-trained runner in the race since John Edwards sent over Monsieur Le Cure to finished third to Merry Gale nine years ago.

It is a race that JP McManus has never won - his First Gold was third to Native Upmanship and Rince Ri 12 months ago - but he will be two-handed this time. Frank Berry, McManus's racing manager, said: "The intention is to run Knife Edge as well as Le Coudray."

Willie Mullins, successful with Florida Pearl two years ago, said that neither Adamant Approach nor Killultagh Storm were certain to run, while his brother Tony, who rode Dawn Run to victory in 1985, has ruled out Hennessy Gold Cup sixth Barrow Drive.

* Royal Rosa, winner of a Grade One bumper at Punchestown, looks set to have his first run for his new connections at Sedgefield on Tuesday. The four-year-old was purchased for a record 340,000 guineas at the Doncaster Sales by big-spender Graham Wylie and is now in training with Howard Johnson. "I'd say if the ground is on the soft side I'll run him at Sedgefield," the County Durham-based trainer said.

RICHARD EDMONDSON

Nap: Jolly Giant

(Exeter 2.15)

NB: Sterling Dot Com

(Exeter 3.20)

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: Project Assistant

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

Day In a Page

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

RuPaul interview

The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

Secrets of comedy couples

What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

The best swimwear for men

From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

Mark Hix goes summer foraging

 A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

Aaron Ramsey interview

Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms