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Rooster '85 per cent' likely to run at Kempton.

Byline: LEE MOTTERSHEAD

ROOSTER BOOSTER'S legions of fans will have to wait to find out whether the former Champion Hurdle hero makes his seasonal reappearance in what could be a Grade 1 contest in all but name at Kempton on Saturday.

Terry Warner's dashing grey, a runaway winner of the Cheltenham championship in 2003 and runner-up to Hardy Eustace last season, was yesterday joined by star names Intersky Falcon and Rigmarole in the five-day entry for the RHT 40th Anniversary Hurdle.

Although the pounds 30,000 contest - won by Rooster Booster two seasons ago - has long been the ten-year-old's intended point of return, trainer Philip Hobbs was yesterday stressing that his participation has not been confirmed.

'It's too early to say and I'm just not sure,' he said. 'It depends how he works tomorrow, how the ground is and how the opposition looks.

'We've been thinking about this race for a while, but I need to speak with the owner. The Bula Hurdle is his main target before Christmas, and before that we've also got the handi-cap at Cheltenham's Open meeting and the Fighting Fifth as options.'

Warner, who yesterday said he believed Rooster Booster to have an '85 per cent chance of running', is keen to chase the BHB's new Order of Merit, a points series his horse would have won last year had it been in existence.

He said: 'The initiative will definitely influence me with the plans for Rooster Booster and we will be targeting Order of Merit races, providing the ground suits and the horse is well.'

Intersky Falcon, winner of the last two Christmas Hurdles, is set to return at Kempton, although syndicate spokesman Terry McDermott is unsure who will ride.

'I'll speak to Jonjo, probably tomorrow, and decide what we're going to do,' he said. 'Liam [Cooper] would have ridden him but he's retired now and AP [McCoy] may not be able to ride him in all the big races as he's retained by JP McManus.'

Rigmarole, successful in Saturday's event 12 months ago, will represent trainer Paul Nicholls, who said the horse 'definitely runs' but added: 'I've just got a feeling that he might want at least one run before he gets back to his best.

'He's a stuffy horse and last year he took a few runs before he reached his peak.'

Terrestrial viewers will miss out on live coverage of the Kempton race after Channel 4 dropped the card from its schedules, although the network may show a recording during its broadcast from Doncaster and Newbury.

BHB ORDER OF MERIT

Stan James: 12 Azertyuiop, 16 Baracouda, Rhinestone Cowboy, Rigmarole, Rooster Booster, 20 Intersky Falcon, Well Chief, 22 Thisthatandtother, 25 bar.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Oct 19, 2004
Words:449
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