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Hats off to Topper Thornton and the Stowe connection

Topper Thornton (navy and yellow silks, centre) throws down a challenge to Harry The Viking at Carlisle in November
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Plenty of owners have an idea about who they would like to ride their horses but it is rare that educational background is a significant consideration.

But for the racing club whose navy and yellow colours are carried on  Topper Thornton in the Betfred Classic Chase, the choice of Alex Hales to train and Harry Bannister to ride was key, since both are former pupils at Stowe School in Buckinghamshire. 

The first horse to represent the Old Stoic Racing Club, Topper Thornton has got his supporters off to a flying start since Hales bought him out of Colin McBratney's yard at the Doncaster Sales for £13,000.

"He was unlucky not to win at Carlisle where Noel [Fehily] felt if he could have run the race again he would have won it, he just got there a bit too early," said Hales.

"At Sandown he just got a bit out of his ground. I am looking forward to it and I think there have been stronger renewals of the Classic Chase than this. It's very open and he's in really good order."

The Old Stoic Racing Club is run by two former pupils in Henry Kimbell and Luke Brewin, and has proved popular with many with a connection to the school, whose alumni include Hales' training colleagues Roger Charlton, James Fanshawe, Jonathan Portman and Michael Bell, as well as broadcaster Robert Cooper. 

Kimbell said: "The school were looking at ways for former pupils to engage and I mentioned I was interested in racing and had run a few syndicates. We've designed the silks based on the school colours and we have members whose leaving years range from 1953 to 2017. 

"Twenty per cent of prize-money plus any sale fee when we come to sell the horse goes to the Stowe School Foundation, which offers bursaries and scholarships." 

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I think there have been stronger renewals of the Classic Chase than this. It is very open and he is in really good order
E.W. Terms
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