Harry Topper heads for the heights

Bailey's gutsy young chaser battles to neck victory on comeback and hints at better things to come

If it's tough at the top, and tougher staying there, it must be toughest of all getting back there, as Kim Bailey will surely attest. The Gloucestershire-based trainer is one of the few men to have saddled the winners of the Gold Cup, Champion Hurdle and Grand National, and yesterday at Wetherby the upwardly mobile Harry Topper raised hopes for a return to the glory days of Master Oats, Alderbrook and Mr Frisk.

Bailey has made no secret of the esteem in which he holds Harry Topper, but the six-year-old's otherwise satisfactory low-key first campaign over fences had ended in disarray with a fall at Kelso and a pile-up at Punchestown. Pitching him against some of the best – including Long Run – in the Charlie Hall Chase on his comeback this season posed a stern enough question, but a battling neck victory in the Grade Two contest answered it pretty soundly.

Harry Topper, yesterday's 5-1 second market choice, is not easy to either train or ride, so hats off to both Bailey and Jason Maguire, who provided confidence-imbuing hands on the reins yesterday after his mount showed clumsy, rather tentative tendencies early on.

"I knew he might be a bit sticky to start with," Maguire said, "so after those mistakes I took him wide and gave him plenty of daylight at his fences, just schooled him round and then put him in the race down the back. He stays all day, so once he got going I knew he'd see it through."

As the trailblazing Benefficient, a winner at the Cheltenham Festival in March, dropped away in the home straight, Harry Topper surged to the front and led Wayward Prince and Unioniste over the last before showing commendable determination to repel a renewed effort from the 50-1 shot Wayward Prince, also runner-up 12 months previously.

But though delighted with his young charge's performance, the always realistic Bailey was making no wildly fancy plans or promises for a still-developing horse who was running in bumpers two years ago.

"He's got guts," Bailey said, "he doesn't want to be headed and in that he's like Master Oats, he'd gallop through a brick wall for you. I've always hoped for big things from him, but he has had problems with his jumping and rather has his own way of doing it, and when he was brought down in Ireland it knocked him back mentally.

"I've always had to be patient with him and although he's got all the entries you'd expect and the Gold Cup is something we'll have to think about, we won't be in a rush with him. He's only six and has his whole career in front of him. And to be honest, today's form at the minute doesn't look great. The second is an exposed nine-year-old and although Long Run ran, it clearly wasn't the real Long Run." The Gold Cup and dual King George VI Chase hero, the 5-6 favourite, was under pressure before the turn into the home straight and trailed in a long way last of the five finishers. He has been eased in the market for this year's Boxing Day showpiece at Kempton.

The season's first Grade One contest, the JNwine.com Chase at Down Royal, also provided something of a turn-up as Roi Du Mee, the 12-1 outsider of six, made all the running to see off Sizing Europe and Prince de Beauchene.

Some things, though, maintain their order. At Wetherby, the 12-year-old Tidal Bay reprised last year's success in the Grade Two stayers' hurdle, produced with perfect timing by Sam Twiston-Davies to beat Medinas cosily in the last couple of strides in his trademark style. A few minutes later the remarkable veteran's stablemate Rolling Aces made it six in a row for their trainer, Paul Nicholls, in the Grade Two chase at Down Royal. And the day's jumping ended with Tony McCoy in hot pursuit of another career milestone as More Of That took him to within six of 4,000 winners in the Wetherby finale. The 18-times champion resumes his quest today at Carlisle.

At the $24 million Breeders' Cup meeting at Santa Anita, last night's first European challenger, Dank, took this year's total to four for the raiders, after London Bridge, Chriselliam and Outstrip on Friday night. The four-year-old beat French-trained Romantica to take the Filly & Mare Turf as 6-4 favourite, a sixth success for Newmarket trainer Sir Michael Stoute at the world's richest fixture, and a fifth for rider Ryan Moore.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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

Savvy Media Ltd: Media Sales executive - Crawley

£25k + commission + benefits: Savvy Media Ltd: Find a job you love and never h...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Solicitor NQ+ Oxford

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CORPORATE - Corporate Solicitor NQ+ An excelle...

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible