Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rooster Booster Steals the Show at Sandown

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Rooster Booster Steals the Show at Sandown

Article excerpt

Byline: By William Hayler

Talk of the trainers' title took a temporary back seat at Sandown Park yesterday as Rooster Booster made it into the winner's enclosure for the first time in almost 16 months with a popular success in the Concept Hurdle.

The 11-year-old grey, winner of the 2003 Champion Hurdle, returned to a rousing reception after his four-length success over Self Defense, with Perouse a further length and a quarter back in third.

Royal Shakespeare was leading and going ominously well when he took a bone-crunching fall at the second-last, but both he and jockey Robert Thornton appeared to escape serious injury.

That left the Philip Hobbs-trained Rooster Booster (5-1) in front earlier than his rider would have liked, but he galloped on strongly up the hill for Richard Johnson.

Owner Terry Warner, never one to keep his cards to himself, had warned that another poor run from Rooster Booster here might have led to retirement.

But this victory may have earned him a reprieve, with both Warner and Hobbs unsure as to whether their charge would actually enjoy life at a quieter pace.

Hobbs said: "The inevitable question now is do we retire him? Of course it would be nice to go out in a blaze of glory, but it might not be the right thing to do for the horse.

"I don't think he has deteriorated that much and I am not sure he wants to be retired ( I will have to discuss it with Terry. We might run him in the Swinton Hurdle in a fortnight, but having said that, Terry might want to retire him.

"When the other horse fell at the second-last I thought it was the worst thing that could have happened as he was left in front, but he stuck on really well."

The jockey felt that Rooster Booster's success was overdue.

"He never runs a bad race and deserved a win. Whether he runs next year or not he's done it well today," Johnson said.

"There was a proper pace and he loves the ground. He ran quite well in the Champion Hurdle but he's not that good any more, but he's probably the best of the English."

Warner admitted to finding the occasion an emotional one.

"I got tears in my eyes today," he said. …

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