Past Winners » Harry Topper


I am taking a chance on Harry Topper now at the prices. He wasn’t a definite runner in the race earlier in the week, and there is a chance that the ground will not be soft enough for him, but he is a really exciting staying chaser for the season ahead, and he is big enough at 8/1 to allow us take a chance on him on his seasonal debut.

Kim Bailey’s horse was a good staying novice hurdler two seasons ago, but it was always as a staying chaser that he was going to make his mark. He beat Rocky Creek on his debut over fences at Exeter last October, and Rocky Creek went on to prove the merit of that form by winning his next three races, including the Grade 2 Reynoldstown Chase.

Encouragingly for today, that Exeter race was run on good to soft ground, not heavy ground. It was probably faster ground that day than it will be at Wetherby today, so at least we know that Harry Topper can operate on it.

He went on from that to win a Grade 2 three-mile chase at Newbury on his next run, just getting up close home to catch Benefficient in the dying strides. That was a really good race, with Highland Lodge and Houblon Des Obeaux finishing third and fourth, and Hadrian’s Approach in contention when falling at the third last.

Harry Topper unseated at Kelso in March, and was brought down in the Grade 1 novices’ chase at Punchestown in April, but it was interesting that he skipped Cheltenham. Trainer Kim Bailey has always maintained that he was a horse for the future, and he didn’t want to risk him by running him at Cheltenham as a novice. His trainer obviously holds him in high regard, and he knows a high-class horse when he has one.

Of course, Long Run is going to be very hard to beat. He is the class horse of the race, a dual King George winner, a Gold Cup winner. However, this is a starting point for him, Nicky Henderson talked last month about getting him out early and letting him roll. You can be sure that he will come on for today’s seasonal debut, and there is a chance that he just might be caught for fitness.