Harry Topper: slashed for National Hunt Chase after easy Exeter winPICTURE: Getty Images
Harry puts in top-class performance for Bailey
Report: Exeter, Sunday
Bathwick Tyres Taunton Graduation Chase 3m
TRAINER Kim Bailey had been brave enough to call Harry Topper the best horse he has had since Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Master Oats and his opinion could be shared by many more after a dismissive victory at Exeter.
The six-year-old had come home with a storming run to win at Newbury on his last outing at Newbury in November but was always in touch on Sunday as Highland Lodge set only a modest tempo in dank, dark, miserable conditions.
Harry Topper jumped well and turning for home with four fences remaining he had loomed up menacingly under jockey Jason Maguire.
Maguire looked confident and Harry Topper looked supreme, the only question was how much would he find. The answer was plenty.
Hawkes Point and Bensalem were poised to challenge if Harry Topper sunk into the soggy Exeter turf but they were left behind in an instant as Maguire kicked his mount clear before letting him coast over the final fence.
The ease of Harry Topper's victory was boosted further as his nearest pursuers clambered over the final obstacles finishing very weary. Hawkes Point claimed second with Bensalem third.
Bailey said: "Jason Maguire rode him when he won here earlier in the season and has come back and said the horse is bigger, better and stronger so we are definitely going the right way.
"He's entered in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham next month, but I would have to say we are totally undecided about whether he'll run there as it will be a case of how he comes out of this and whether the ground dries quickly."
Should he line up at Cheltenham, Paddy Power make Harry Topper their 6-1 favourite (from 14) for the four-mile contest.