12/14/2002 1:00AM

Rooster Booster wins Bula Hurdle

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Rooster Booster, the 6-5 favorite, won Saturday's Grade 2 Victor Chandler Bula Hurdle at Cheltenham in England by 2 1/2 lengths. The American entry, Al Skywalker, was pulled up after setting the early pace in the 2 1/8-mile race.

Jockey Tom Foley went to the front on 33-1 Al Skywalker, who was soon in the clear despite jumping awkwardly at the first three hurdles. Al Skywalker, who is trained by Jennifer Majette, was soon under pressure; he weakened quickly when hampered by the fall of last year's champion hurdler, Hors La Loi III.

Rooster Booster, trained by Philip Hobbs and ridden by Richard Johnson, took up the running from Landing Light, who in turn had seized the lead from Al Skywalker, and stayed on doggedly up the hill. Nicky Henderson trained the second- and third-place finishers, Landing Light and Geos.

Hors La Loi III, who looked fit for his seasonal return, was going strongly when he fell. Both he and his rider, Ruby Walsh, appeared to emerge from the tumble uninjured.