Cheltenham Festival 2011 

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By Dylan Jenear ValueChecker

Time For Rupert On Course for RSA Chase

Ante-post RSA Chase favourite Time For Rupert was recently put through his paces in a final piece of work prior to his date with destiny at the Cheltenham Festival on March 16. The Paul Webber-trained gelding is generally a 9-4 chance for the staying novice chasers’ crown, but is a best-priced 3.38 on BETDAQ at the time of writing.

Time For Rupert

Time For Rupert

Will Kennedy, Time For Rupert’s jockey, wrote on his Twitter page recently: ‘Just rode Rupert in his last bit of work on the grass and he worked really well. A little schooling session one day next week and then the RSA; he looks a million dollars.’

The seven-year-old, whose record over hurdles at Cheltenham reads 122 and is unbeaten in two starts over the larger obstacles, both of which have been at Prestbury Park, was the only rival that could get within a respectable distance of Big Buck’s in last season’s Ladbrokes World Hurdle, and has looked very good in two novice chases so far.

Time For Rupert mastered subsequent Dipper Chase winner Hell’s Bay on his seasonal reappearance and first start in this sphere in November before running out a ready winner over a similar trip to the RSA last time, proving eight lengths too strong for useful yardstick Chicago Grey with Quinz, who has franked the form by landing the Racing Post Chase since, a further seven lengths adrift in third.

The question for punters is should Time For Rupert be as short a price as he is? Well, his hurdles form is superior to anything that his rivals bring to the table. The one whose achievements are arguably comparable are that of Mikael d’Haguenet, but Willie Mullins’ charge has an awful lot to prove at present. Indeed, whether he will fancy the fences at Cheltenham is questionable.

Supporters of the favourite will also be buoyed by the fact that while Punchestowns failed to deliver when sent off 2-1 market leader last term, the three previous runnings all went to jollies – Cooldine, Alberta’s Run and Denman – and it’s hard to knock Time For Rupert, given that his form over fences already looks rock-solid, his jumping is proficient and he clearly possesses plenty of class.

Ainteen Thirtythree, who represents champion trainer Paul Nicholls, and Jessies Dream, who appears to be Ireland’s best hope of landing this race, are both accorded respect. However, for punters looking for an each-way alternative to Time For Rupert, the recommendation is Wayward Prince, who should relish the stern test of stamina he’ll get in the RSA.

The Alflora gelding has not looked flashy in winning his three starts in this sphere, but he possesses abundant stamina, jumps economically and the drying ground at the Gloucestershire venue will be right up his street. An easy winner of a Grade 1 novices’ hurdle at Aintree’s Grand National meeting last term, Ian Williams’ charge looks the type to raise his game at the Festival, so the 12-1 generally available is pretty tempting.

Recommendation: Wayward Prince (each-way) @ 12-1


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