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Rooster Booster died suddenly on the gallops this morning while he was being prepared for the Stan James Christmas Hurdle at Sandown on Boxing Day. Trainer Philip Hobbs believes the 11-year-old grey gelding died either of a haemorrhage or a heart attack.

His regular partner Richard Johnson is devastated by the news. The pair won the 2004 Champion Hurdle Trial at Haydock, a feat Johnson remembers as one of the highlights of his career.

Collecting a total of £642,490 in 40 runs, Rooster Booster was known for his staying power and turn of speed. In 2003 he became Britain’s leading hurdler, winning five out of six races, including an impressive 11-length victory at the Cheltenham Festival.

It was thought he might retire this season but a win in the competitive Hurdle at Huntingdon in October proved he was not feeling his age. However, a disappointing run in the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham last month raised questions over his form.

Rooster Booster will be sorely missed by Johnsson and Hobbs. He was a straightforward horse to train and many people commented on his sweet and affectionate nature in the stable.


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