Time For Rupert, Banbury trainer Paul Webber’s stable star, is set to make his comeback in the Long Walk Hurdle at Ascot on Saturday after recovering from lifesaving surgery.

The nine-year-old has not been seen on a racecourse since finishing fourth in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby in November last year.

He missed the rest of the campaign with a minor leg injury, and then gave his connections a massive scare when he was found to have a growth close to the brain.

Surgery saved his life, and the Mollington trainer reported that Time For Rupert is “sharper, feistier and more alert” as he prepares for his return, which could be the first step on the road to a crack at the Crabbies Grand National.

Webber can also take heart from Cantlow’s terrific run to be second to Double Ross in the Stewart Family Thank You Gold Cup at Cheltenham on Saturday.

Chipping Norton trainer Charlie Longsdon beat his tally of winners for last season when Wadswick Court made a winning debut over hurdles at Huntingdon.

It took the Hull Farm Stables handler’s total to 55, one more than he registered in the 2012-13 campaign.

And after welcoming his charge back into the winner’s enclosure following a half-length verdict over Simply A Legend in the novices’ hurdle over an extended two miles, Longsdon said: “Our best is 69 two years ago, so 70 is the target.”

West Ilsley trainer Mick Channon has snapped up talented apprentice Willy Twiston-Davies to take over the role as his stable jockey for 2014.

The 19-year-old, son of jumps trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies and brother of jump jockey Sam, gets his big chance after Martin Harley left Channon to join Newmarket trainer Marco Botti.

The teenager, who has ridden 47 winners in 2013, has worked for Flat champion trainer Richard Hannon for the last two year