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Spotlight on the people behind a Champion effort.

Byline: Bruce Jackson & Rodney Masters

The breeder: Richard Mitchell

With a little luck, following events in deepest Dorset yesterday morning, there is likely to be another brother or sister to Rooster Booster on the way in the near future.

"I just hope it's another grey," said Richard Mitchell, who is owner of Rooster Booster's sire, Riverwise, bought for 1,800gns, and also his dam, Came Cottage, who was nursed back to health after 11 months with her hind fetlock in plaster.

Mitchell and his wife Elsie were in tears yesterday as Rooster Booster stormed home to record an overdue strike for a British-bred horse in the Champion Hurdle. "We're very proud, but I wasn't too pleased about the comments made on television about the dam and sire," he said.

With a small string at Dorchester, Mitchell trained Rooster Booster for two seasons before selling him to Terry Warner.

It was after Came Cottage had broken down in her first hurdle at Wincanton that Mitchell's wife purchased the mare. She was fired, and recovered to win four point-to-points and finish runner-up in a novices' chase at Ludlow.

So far, Rooster Booster has two brothers, three sisters and one half-sister. "They're a slow-maturing family, and Rooster Booster is evidence of that," Mitchell added.

Rodney Masters

The groom

Carol Burnett

Age 23

How long in current job? "My family home is in Minehead and I joined my local trainer Philip Hobbs from college five years ago."

How long have you looked after Rooster Booster? "Since his first day at the yard, three years ago."

Has Rooster Booster any quirks? "He's very quiet to do, but on the gallops he can be very keen. He's a lad's ride, and Leighton McGuiness has done a brilliant job with him at home. A lot of the credit must go to him."

Did you back him? "Yes, at 6-1. I'm not saying how much I had on. I was quietly confident that he'd go very close."

What other horses do you look after? "One Knight [runs in the Royal & SunAlliance Chase today] and Sammy Samba."

Which single factor would improve working life for stable staff? "It's a great life, but, of course, the pay could be better. I've no complaints, though, because I'm doing something I love."

The owner

Terry Warner

TERRY WARNER was proud to say he bought British following the success of his Rooster Booster in the Smurfit Champion Hurdle.

Although he has dabbled with more expensive French-bred imports, the Gloucestershire businessman has been one of the biggest supporters of British jumpers in 30 years of ownership that has now yielded 202 winners.

He admitted it started too well with Relic's Son, who won eight for him with trainer Owen O'Neill.

"I thought `God, this is an easy game' and he was a chaser, who was tubed. I remember Ian Shoemark winning my first race on a Bank Holiday at Newton Abbot."

A few trainers and plenty of horses later, the British-bred Rooster Booster provided the pinnacle, although Warner has had four other Festival winners starting with a share in Kibreet.

While Warner's business was leisure, it proved anything but as he nearly failed to collect his bus pass five years ago, having suffered a heart attack at Uttoxeter in 1995.

"I was just there for a social," said Warner in his distinctive Bristol burr. "I decided then to flog the business - I didn't want the hassle."

It proved another lucky break for Warner as he sold his 22-shop business and sat back to enjoy watching horses run in his now

well-known yellow and black colours with 16 currently parading them.

The next slice of luck came when he was at Chepstow and saw Rooster Booster finish third under Sophie Mitchell for her father Richard.

Warner said: "I said to a friend I wanted to buy a grey and he told me Rooster Booster was for sale.

"I found Richard Mitchell who said the price was pounds 60,000. I offered pounds 50,000 but he stuck to pounds 60,000 and I thought that for the sake of pounds 10,000, I had to have him, so we agreed.

"The vet went down and said `don't buy him' as he couldn't get near him to vet him - he was so wild. I thought that showed he had spirit and I wanted to buy him."

BRUCE JACKSON

CAPTION(S):

Rooster Booster is led in, flanked by owner Terry Warner (right) and his wife after their Champion Hurdle triumph
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Mar 12, 2003
Words:753
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