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It’s Time For Rupert to resume upward trajectory in Long Walk Hurdle

The withdrawal of Celestial Halo has left At Fishers Cross a rightfully long odds-on favourite for the Long Walk Hurdle at 8/15, but for those unconvinced by his return to the fray at Newbury, 10/1 shot Time For Rupert looks worthy of further inspection.

It’s a measure of the engine possessed by Rebecca Curtis’ Albert Bartlett winner that he was still in with a chance of overhauling Celestial Halo as they approached the last on Hennessey day, in spite of what was a sketchy hurdling display to say the least.

It’s that lack of fluency over the obstacles in his first race outside novice company that provides the kind of nagging doubt that stops punters backing 8/15 shots.

The field remaining after Celestial Halo’s defection are no mugs after all.

Reve De Sivola was a wide-margin winner of this race last year, while Salubrious took the Martin Pipe at the Cheltenham Festival.

Only Tweedledrum looks hopelessly outclassed on official ratings.

However Reve De Sivola was in At Fishers Cross’ pocket at Newbury when disaster struck, despite the latter’s shoddy hurdling, while Salubrious was beaten in handicap company on his sole run beyond 2m5f.

That leaves Paul Webber’s Time For Rupert as potentially the race’s underestimated horse.

His second to Big Buck’s in the 2010 World Hurdle, when the greatest staying hurdler of all time was a seven year-old on the very crest of a wave, is arguably the strongest hurdling form on offer here.

Having won two of his three career runs on soft ground, the going should be nectar to a gelding returning from a season on the sidelines.

Webber has suggested the run will improve him, but also mentioned that horse has done plenty of work at home as well as undertaking schooling with race rider Denis O’Regan.

Nontheless the nine-year-old has gone well fresh in the past, scoring on two of his four seasonal curtain-raisers and grabbing a silver medal in the Charlie Hall chase in 2011 on one of the others.

As such, should there still be five runners when the race goes to post he rates a nice each-way proposition, with Coral playing a quarter of the odds for the first two.