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.


Nap: Jolly Giant

(Exeter 2.15)

NB: Sterling Dot Com

(Exeter 3.20)

Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Chelsea midfielder Cesc Fabregas
footballChelsea vs West Ham live kicks off coverage of all 10 of Boxing Day matches
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all