12/12/2002 12:00AM

Al Skywalker in tough

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Al Skywalker will have to run the race of his life if he is to have any chance in the 2 1/8-mile Grade 2 Bula Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday. He has won five graded races over jumps in America, but he will be facing many of Europe's best hurdlers in this prep for the Champion Hurdle, to be run March 11.

Victory for Al Skywalker will be made difficult by the soft ground.

"We're worried a little bit about the going," said his rider, Tom Foley. "He's never run on this kind of surface back home."

Neither has he faced the likes of 2002 Champion Hurdle winner Hors La Loi III, or Laveron, winner in June of the French Champion Hurdle. The likely Bula favorite will be Rooster Booster, who has won his last two starts by a combined 16 lengths.