Former champion hurdler Rooster Booster will try for a second win in the totesport Bula Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday.
The 10-year-old, among 11 entries for the contest today, won the Grade Two race in 2002 but was only fourth last year on what was his seasonal bow.
Rooster Booster comes into the race with the benefit of a run this season after finishing fourth in the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Prestbury Park last month.
The gelding could again clash with Martin Pipe’s Westender, who finished second, but trainer Philip Hobbs believes he will be better for that outing.
“He will be running on Saturday as we really don’t have any other options for him,” said Hobbs. “As long as everything is fine, he will run. We would certainly hope he has come on for his first run. He seems very well and is in good form.”
Rooster Booster is the 9-4 favourite with Coral, while Howard Johnson’s Inglis Drever is next best on 100-30.
Inglis Drever was one of last season’s top novices and he picked up where he left off on his seasonal debut when a two-length second to Harchibald in the ‘Fighting Fifth’ Hurdle at Newcastle last month.
Royal Shakespeare was two lengths behind Inglis Drever in third at Newcastle last time and trainer Steve Gollings could allow him to reoppose.
Edward O’Grady’s Back In Front is the sole Irish-trained entry and he has been the subject of some significant support with Cashmans today.
The seven-year-old was originally a 4-1 shot but the Irish firm now go 5-2 about his chances after a number of bets, with one punter having €8,000 at 7-2.
Geos, who was third in 2002, could take his chance for Nicky Henderson, while Nicky Richards’ The French Furze will be having a third crack at the race.
Noel Chance’s Flame Creek was fourth in this race last year and he could have his first run since finishing sixth in the Irish Champion Hurdle in January.
Milton Harris has entered Mondul in both the Bula and the ‘Relkeel’ Hurdle earlier on the card, while outsiders Merryvale Man and Knockrigg complete the entries.
Totesport Bula Hurdle betting:
Coral: 9-4 Rooster Booster, 100-30 Inglis Drever, 7-2 Back In Front, 9-2 Royal Shakespeare, 11-2 Westender, 12-1 Flame Creek, 14-1 Geos, 25-1 The French Furze, 33-1 Mondul, 100-1 Merryvale Man, 250-1 Knockrigg.
Cashmans: 9-4 Rooster Booster, 5-2 Back In Front, 7-2 Inglis Drever, 6-1 Westender, 7-1 Royal Shakespeare, 14-1 Flame Creek, Geos, Mondul, 25-1 The French Furze, 100-1 Merryvale Man, 200-1 Knockrigg.