Rooster out for more Greatwood glory

Rooster Booster returns to the scene of his greatest triumph when he heads a 21-strong field for the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham on Sunday.

Rooster Booster returns to the scene of his greatest triumph when he heads a 21-strong field for the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham on Sunday.

The 11-year-old achieved his finest hour when winning the 2003 Champion Hurdle, having taken this corresponding race the previous November.

And the Philip Hobbs-trained gelding showed he was no back number by making a successful reappearance at Huntingdon a month ago.

Rooster Booster’s owner Terry Warner is hopeful, if not confident, his grey can put in a good performance off top weight.

“He is very well, but it is asking a lot of him to carry 11st 12lb. If he finished in the first five, I would be very happy,” said Warner.

“He won well at Huntingdon in a very fast time, but the ground was good that day. He loves Cheltenham and the going is not a worry, so we go with hope.

“Richard Johnson will ride and I do think he will run well – I’d be delighted if he did win, but to be honest he is 11 and it would be clutching at straws a bit to think he will.”

The field also includes Emma Lavelle’s smart dual purpose performer Self Defense and the Jonjo O’Neill-trained Lingo, who has not run since winning the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown in January 2004.

O’Neill said: “He’s grand and has been schooling well. He’s been off for a long time – he’s not run for two seasons now since his run at Sandown.

“He’s going fine, but he’s rated about 140 so he has to run here – there’s nowhere else for him.”

Westender, winner in 2001 and second last season, bids to continue his fine record in the race.

His trainer Martin Pipe also saddes Don’t Be Shy and Fontanesi, while Paul Nicholls is doubly represented with Phar Bleu and Darrias. There are two Irish raiders, Noel Meade’s Power Elite and Adamant Approach from Willie Mullins’ stable.

The latter is the same age as Rooster Booster but will carry 26lb less and is even 2lb out of the handicap on 10st.

“He’s not been the luckiest horse in training. It looks a difficult race for him and we’d be happy with a bit of place money,” said Mullins.

“At least he’s at the right end of the handicap.”

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