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.

Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Sport
wimbledonScot will face Ivo Karlovic next
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

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test