Time for Rupert to miss Cheltenham warm-up

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Trainer Paul Webber has revealed favourite Time for Rupert will miss the Argento Chase at Pretsbury Park on Cheltenham Festival Trials Day. Instead he will bypass Sunday’s race and go straight into the Cheltenham Festival in March after Webber reported he was feeling unwell ahead of the race.

Plans for him to run in the race were scrapped after tests showed his white blood cell count was high. After being prescribed a course of antibiotics he will now rest up before being aimed at the famous festival.

Time for Rupert was second to Big Buck's in the World Hurdle at the 2010 Festival and is unbeaten in his two starts over fences. Bookmakers will look to him as the favourite for the RSA Chase, which will run on the second day of the festival. Despite having his preparations for that race disrupted, Webber was pleased to have found the problem before any damage to his reputation was done. He said: “It is disappointing to have to miss the race, but it is not as disappointing as it would have been had he run when not at his best.”

“It's much better that we found out before the race and saved the betting public losing any money and ourselves the disappointment of a bad performance” he added.

Nicky Henderson’s Punchestown will now be installed as the favourite for the Argento Chase, will Tidal Bay and Neptune Collonges will also feature heavily in the sports betting prior to the race.

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