Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Time to take stock after Rupert's Haydock eclipse

Paul Webber went into the Grade 1 Betfair Chase at Haydock Park on Saturday full of hope that despite the track likely to prove far from ideal for his smart sort Time For Rupert, the second-season chaser would give a very good account of himself against Long Run, Kauto Star, and the rest. In the event he trailed home last of the five finishers leaving connections with food for thought as they plan their next move, writes Elliot Slater.

Webber had a nagging doubt at the back of his mind that the Haydock track might prove a little on the sharp side for his resolute galloper, a horse who came a fine second to Big Buck's in the 2010 Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, and who went on to win his first two chase starts at that track in impressive fashion last autumn before returning to run well (in hindsight) in finishing fifth in the RSA Chase, despite bursting a blood vessel. People following the best online Cheltenham race odds should remember this.

A beaten favourite on his seasonal return at Wetherby where he only gave best to Weird Al after the final fence in the Grade 2 Charlie Hall Chase, the seven-year-old Flemensfirth gelding shaped well at Haydock until the sixth fence from home where he soon became outpaced and gradually dropped away to be beaten some 25-lengths by the sensational Kauto Star who rolled back the years with an intensely emotional fourth win in the Betfair Chase. Although it was always asking a lot of Time For Rupert to lower the colours of Kauto Star and the outstanding Long Run (who finished second), but connections had expected a better display and will have to think carefully now as to where to proceed from here.

Bookmakers reacted by pushing Time For Rupert out from 14/1 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup prior to the Haydock race, to a general offer of 20/1, with 25/1 available now in places.

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