As the countdown continues to the start of the 2011 Cheltenham Festival connections of Time For Rupert, hot favourite to win the prestigious RSA Chase on day two of the fixture, report their charge to be in great shape and doing everything asked of him as the final touches are put to his big race preparations, writes Elliot Slater.
Time For Rupert had been an intended runner a couple of weeks ago in the Grade 2 Argento Chase at Cheltenham, but a dirty scope forced trainer Paul Webber to miss what had been planned as his final prep race and he will go to the three mile novices ‘Gold Cup’ having not been seen in competitive action since mid-December. Those looking for Cheltenham Festival tips could do a lot worse than follow him.
Webber’s talented seven-year-old made the switch to chasing this term having proved himself to be a high-class staying hurdler last season, chasing home Tidal Bay in the Grade 2 Cleeve Hurdle before giving champion staying hurdler Big Buck’s the fright of his life when coming to join him at the final flight of last year’s Ladbrokes World Hurdle. In the end he failed by three lengths to catch Paul Nicholls’ superstar but announced himself well and truly as a horse to follow.
Making his chasing bow at Cheltenham in November the Flemensfirth gelding barely put a foot long and coasted to an effortless win over the very useful Hell’s Bay. His subsequent victory a month later over the same course and distance came at the expense of Chicago Grey (now ante-post favourite for the National Hunt Chase), where he jumped like a buck in winning by eight-lengths and looked a potential Gold Cup horse of the future, one who could even challenge Paul Nicholls dominance in the race.
Time For Rupert will have one final schooling session next week under regular partner Will Kennedy, before attempting to justify the 9/4 favourite mark that he has occupied for so long.