RACING: Specular Clears Path for Rooster Booster

Article excerpt

Champion Hurdler Rooster Booster will face an easier task than expected today when he makes his seasonal reappearance in the Tote Bula Hurdle, following the defection of Australian import Specular. The Jonjo O'Neill-trained seven-year-old was bought by J P McManus following his most recent appearance Down Under in June.

However, O'Neill had to rule the gelding out of the extended two-mile contest. He said: 'He knocked himself this morning but hopefully it is nothing too serious.'

That leaves the 2003 Cheltenham Festival hero to face six rivals including the classy Spirit Leader and recent Fighting Fifth Hurdle winner The French Furze.

Rooster Booster scored in this Cheltenham Grade Two event last year, getting home by two-and-a-half lengths from Landing Light, then slammed the field in the Champion Hurdle in March. Philip Hobbs' charge will continue his successful partnership with jockey Richard Johnson.

One of his rivals will be Davenport Milenium, who has been lightly-raced in the last 18 months.

The Willie Mullins-trained seven-year-old rattled up an impressive hat-trick of wins in the spring of 2002, including two Grade One hurdles, then finished third to Intersky Falcon in Kempton's Pertemps Christmas Hurdle. …