TIME For Rupert, one of the most promising steeplechasers in the country 12 months ago, will attempt to rebuild his reputation in the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup.
He was a heavily backed favourite when he finished fifth to Bostons Angel in last year’s RSA Chase for novice steeplechasers.
He was then a disappointing second to Donald McCain’s Weird Al in Wetherby’s Charlie Hall Chase before failing to land a blow in the Betfair Chase that saw Kauto Star, the former Gold Cup hero, edge out Long Run, the reigning champion.
That prompted connections to dispense with the services of Will Kennedy, the horse’s regular rider, and replace him with the more experienced Denis O’Regan.
And while the new partnership won at Newbury, they were still a distant fourth to Midnight Chase in the Argento Chase at Cheltenham at the end of January. However, Time For Rupert’s owners, the Littlecote Racing Partnership, believe the Gold Cup is more realistic than Tuesday’s highly competitive JLT Specialty Chase.
“He will go for the Gold Cup. The owners have had a look at the handicap and they found a horse hasn’t won off his kind of rating since something like 1983,” said trainer Paul Webber.
Meanwhile jockey Tom Scudamore and David Pipe are still refusing to reveal whether Grands Crus will contest the RSA or the Gold Cup, racing’s best kept secret.
“There are pros and cons of both races. We just have to do what’s right for the horse,” said Scudamore, who will ride The Giant Bolster in the Gold Cup if Grands Crus contests the former.
n Alan King’s Invictus, winner of Ascot’s Reynoldstown Chase, misses this year’s RSA Chase through injury.