Cheltenham Festival 2011 

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By Marc Owen-Banks ValueChecker

Time for Rupert in the RSA Chase

There are few punters seeing past Paul Webber's Time for Rupert for the RSA Chase at 2.40. Indeed the 7yo is many an experts banker of the week, but perhaps there is opposition with Gordon Elliot saddling Jessies Dream or Paul Nicholls' Aiteenthirtythree.

Time For Rupert

Time For Rupert

The stats would suggest that the Irish raider may have it all to do as an eight year old. The race has been dominated by 7 year olds in recent years, winning five of the last six renewals, only Star De Mohaison has broken chain by becoming a remarkable 5yo winner in 2006 for Paul Nicholls. As an 8yo Jessies Dream would have to emulate the feat of Rule Supreme in 2004, although there would be similarities in that we had an Irish Raider winning that time from the yard of Willie Mullins. Jessies Dream has proven to stay the trip for this race and will appreciate a sound surface which looks on the cards.

Time for Rupert may lack the chase experience for this. Raced only twice over fences, albeit both on the Cheltenham track his price is short enough and there could be better value further down the market. A very classy staying hurdler he ran second in the World Hurdle here last year behind Big Bucks displaying his class. Although there have been three winning favourites in four years before Weapons Amnesty won last season, this is not a great race for the market leaders.

Both Paul Nicholls and Willie Mullins have won this twice a piece in the last ten years and both have entries that shouldn't be dismisses entirely.

Mullins challenge comes from the brilliant hurdler Mikael D'Haguenet. He looked very handy over fences as well before coming to grief when taking on Jessies Dream at Fairyhouse, and whilst there has been disappointment twice subsequently, we will be keeping an eye out on the market for any significant support. Unbeaten over hurdles, he is surely a better chaser than we have seen so far, and Mullins will be hoping to show that on the day.

Ditcheat have Aiteenthirtythree lining up as their main challenge. Paul Nicholls hurdling course and distance winner could be anything over fences. Like Time For Rupert he has raced only twice over fences, but has won both events in remarkable style totally unchallenged on both occasions at Newbury. Although that is a flat track and he accounted for only small field on those runs, he has shown he can stay the trip on this course when winning on his final hurdling appearance here.

Recommendation: Time for Rupert (win) Aiteenthirtythree (ew)


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