It has been over a year since nine-year old chaser, Time For Rupert, has had a start but having overcome a life-threatening condition in the summer, he is now set to line-up at Ascot on Saturday in the Wessex Youth Trust Long Walk Hurdle.
He has not run over hurdles since his second place finish to Big Buck’s in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle at Cheltenham in March 2010, with all races since then over fences.
Time For Rupert has been recovering from an operation for the removal of a growth in his sinus, known as an ethmoid hematoma, and, according to trainer Paul Webber, has been working well saying “He’s back, and he’s in good form.”
Webber went on to talk about future plans for Time For Rupert strongly indicating that he would like to run him in the 2014 Grand National, if he can persuade his owners to enter him.
Webber said “If we take that route then he wouldn’t run again over fences until after the weights are published.
“We’re giving the Long Walk our best shot. He’s done five bits of work recently on the grass, and his weight is as good as before.
“He worked well for Denis this week.”
His main opposition on Saturday will undoubtedly come from At Fishers Cross, the current odds on favourite, but with the late withdrawal of Celestial Halo due to a foot infection, as confirmed by trainer Paul Nicholls, only five will race providing Time For Rupert with a decent opportunity to show his current form.
So with both the Cheltenham Festival and the 2014 Grand National options for the chaser, the next few weeks of racing will provide some valuable information for connections as they decide which way he will go.
No doubt entries to both the Grand National and the World Hurdle will be on the cards but the performance of Big Bucks and the National weights as issued by the BHA Handicapper, Phil Smith, will certainly play their part in the decision making.