It's the right time to catch Rupert on Gold Cup trail

Webber's exciting chaser can put his career back on track in jumps season's first big test at Wetherby

Entering the final week of the season, some fairly momentous business remains unfinished on the Flat.

Above all, there is the Breeders' Cup at Churchill Downs next weekend, with Goldikova seeking that historic fourth Mile. And then there is the no less durable figure of Paul Hanagan, staggering gamely towards another jockeys' championship. Having seen off Kieren Fallon, the poor chap has looked over the other shoulder to find Silvestre de Sousa still in implacable pursuit. Hanagan must be running on fumes and retained a lead of just three as they proceeded to Wolverhampton last night, but his rival flies out to Australia this evening to ride in the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday and that should just about settle it.

Before the final push, however, it is the jumpers who step forward today for much the most significant skirmish of their campaign to date. The Bet365 Charlie Hall Chase looks as good a race as Wetherby has staged in several seasons, certainly drawing a stronger field than the one beaten by Nacarat last year. In fact, an authoritative win for one of the less exposed runners might even cause the first whispers of dissent over the theory that Long Run only has to stay sound and jump round to retain the Gold Cup at Cheltenham in March.

Teasingly, the most eligible horses in the field are united by a tendency to show their best form when fresh. Diamond Harry, indeed, has won first time out in each of his five seasons. On the other hand, he has managed no more than 13 starts in all, again disappearing after the Hennessy Gold Cup last November. Albeit off the bottom tier of the handicap that day, and so receiving 26lb from Denman back in third, he went through the race so powerfully that he appeared to have it won a mile out. He clearly has tons of ability and after just four steeplechase starts remains entitled to further progress.

It will be interesting to see how he gets on with his latest jockey, James Reveley, who will be hoping to match the edifying career breakthrough made by Will Kennedy on his big rival today, Time For Rupert. Whereas Diamond Harry will be having his third different partner in three starts, Kennedy has ridden Time For Rupert throughout his career and has certainly made the most of his opportunity. They pushed Big Buck's himself hard over hurdles at the 2010 Festival, and Time For Rupert was so adept in his first two chases last season that he started as short as 7-4 for the RSA Chase last March. Unfortunately, he did not look the same horse on the day, and it emerged that he had burst a blood vessel.

Horses with that kind of profile are often best when fresh and his trainer believes that Time For Rupert is primed to renew his Gold Cup candidature.

"I'm looking forward to it, but dreading it as well," Paul Webber confessed yesterday. "It's a hell of a race, a real humdinger to start the season proper. But I'm sure our horse has done enough work to do himself justice."

Time For Rupert's last six starts have all been round Cheltenham but he is unbeaten over sharp, flat tracks like this one in Aintree, Huntingdon, Catterick and Ludlow. And while Diamond Harry has looked especially comfortable in softer going, Time For Rupert might just prove more at home in these conditions.

Poquelin must prove his stamina, while Nacarat has his work cut out at the weights, and Weird Al must make a fresh start for his new trainer. The best value in the race is perhaps Chicago Grey, a Festival winner who looked as though he has returned in top fettle until unseating two out the other day. If any frailties resurface in the favourites, he could well take advantage. For now, however, it is only fair to make Time For Rupert (3.20) full value for his thrashing of Chicago Grey and another subsequent big winner, Quinz, at Cheltenham last December.

Whatever happens, let's hope the race gives us something to quicken the appetite for the winter ahead. Otherwise, once the dust settles on Churchill Downs next week, things might feel rather flat for a while.

Turf Account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Jet Away (4.25 Newmarket)

Suspicion that the race rather fell into his lap at York last time, but has sometimes threatened to prove even better than this grade.

Next best

Samurai Sword (2.05 Newmarket)

Would not be the first Godolphin second string to beat a more fancied stablemate and looked one to follow until beaten on his return at Ascot in the spring.

One to watch

Cameron Highland (Roger Varian) made a very promising start at Nottingham during the week, going best for longest before running green.

Where the money's going

Nahrain was again in demand with William Hill for the Filly and Mare Turf at the Breeders' Cup next week, now 5-1 from 6-1.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Life and Style
President Obama, one of the more enthusiastic users of the fist bump
science
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
tv
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
News
Kristen Stewart and Rupert Sanders were pictured embracing in 2012
people
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

HSE Manger - Solar

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: HSE Mana...

Data Governance Manager (Solvency II) – Contract – Up to £450 daily rate, 6 month (may go Permanent)

£350 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently looking...

Powertrain Design Engineer

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: I hope you are well. My client based in ...

Java Developer - Banking - London - Up to £560/day

£500 - £560 per day: Orgtel: Java Developer FX - Banking - London - Up to £560...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried