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Racing mourns Rooster Booster.

Byline: By Keith Hamer

Owner Terry Warner led the tributes to Rooster Booster, the popular grey who collapsed and died on the gallops yesterday.

The 11-year-old, who carried Warner's yellow and black colours to victory in the 2003 Champion Hurdle, is believed to have suffered a heart attack when cantering at trainer Philip Hobbs' gallops at Minehead.

The gelding was being prepared to run in the Stan James Christmas Hurdle at Sandown on Boxing Day.

Hobbs' assistant Johnson White, who was in the saddle, sustained a broken leg.

Warner said: "It's very sad. The only good thing is that he didn't suffer. He was a wonderful horse and put us on the racing map."

Hobbs described Rooster Booster as "an absolute star."

"He has been with us since he was a five-year-old. I'm not sure he was quite as good as he was. He was 11 after all. But at the same time he was still enjoying being in training."

Rooster Booster's regular partner Richard Johnson was devastated on hearing the news while on his way to yesterday's afternoon's meeting at Fontwell. He said: "It's a big shock. He gave me one of the highlights of my career when winning the Champion Hurdle."

The Riverwise gelding graduated from the handicapping ranks to lift the Cheltenham Festival feature two years ago.

Rooster Booster had run with credit in a string of big races before landing a deserved success in the County Hurdle at the Festival in 2002.

He proved a revelation the following season, notching up a sequence of five wins including the Bula Hurdle before landing the Champion Hurdle itself.

Hobbs' charge won the 2004 Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock before putting up an amazing performance to be beaten just a short head in the Tote Gold Trophy at Newbury despite shouldering top weight. As well as winning 10 times, Rooster Booster was second in 14 of his 46 races and won pounds 687,541prize money.

* truckers Tavern heads a four-strong Sue Smith team who are amongst 30 entries for the skybet.com Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase at Wetherby on Boxing Day.

The 10-year-old was trained by Ferdy Murphy when seen capturing the pounds 50,000 contest last Christmas.

"Truckers Tavern is in great form, we just need the ground to remain good and soft," Smith said.
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 21, 2005
Words:387
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