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Uttoxeter

  • 15:50 Betfred Midlands Grand National Chase 4m 1f 110y

  • (Listed Handicap) £100,000 added 5yo+ 16 ran
  • Winner £56,950 2nd £21,370 3rd £10,700 4th £5,330
  • Going: Good to Soft, Soft in places
  • Surface: Turf
    Weighed In
  • Winning time: 8m 41.60s
  • Off time: 15:50:19

Harry Topper heads the weights for the Midlands Grand National

Last Updated: 14/03/14 12:43pm

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Harry Topper: Aiming to reward patience of connections on Saturday

Harry Topper: Aiming to reward patience of connections on Saturday

Kim Bailey is happy he opted to skip the Cheltenham Gold Cup with stable star Harry Topper in favour of the Betfred Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter.

The Denman Chase winner has to concede 19lb or more to each of his rivals and will be ridden for the first time by Nick Scholfield as regular partner Jason Maguire was seriously injured at Stratford on Monday.

It is no secret Harry Topper must have soft ground and Uttoxeter still offers him the chance to get his toe in whereas Cheltenham's drying ground would have proved far too quick, according to Bailey.

"It was an easy decision in the end with the way the ground dried up at Cheltenham," he said.

"He's been in good form at home and we are happy to take his chance as long as the ground doesn't get any quicker than good to soft and it would appear that there is very little chance of that .

"He's been trained for this week, so switching targets at the last moment won't affect him as the races are only 24 hours apart.

"The only real downside to his chance is that we haven't got Jason, for obvious reasons.

"Nick's a good jockey too, though, and I'm sure he'll be fine."

David Bridgwater's faith in Wyck Hill was finally repaid when he won the Eider Chase at Newcastle last month and despite an 8lb rise for the 10-year-old, the trainer is delighted with his racing weight.

"Wyck Hill is on a lovely weight and we've got Mark Walsh coming over to ride him," said Bridgwater.

"He was third on him at Punchestown last season and you can't be a bad rider if you ride for Mr (JP) McManus, he's basically number one in Ireland for him.

"He went up 8lb for the Eider and I thought that was fair enough because he was only idling the last 100 yards, which was why Smoking Aces got so close.

"He was a bit tired for a few days, you could tell he'd had a race, but he's firing again now.

"It's four miles and a furlong again, he's won on all going and Harry Topper staying in suits us perfectly - I know he's a good horse but he'll have to be exceptional to win with that weight.

"It would be some performance if he wins and I'd take my hat off to them."

David Pipe has won the last three renewals of the race with Minella Fourstar, Master Overseer and Big Occasion and runs both stable stalwart Junior and Goulanes.

"Junior has shown a bit more enthusiasm of late. He ran really well at Ffos Las the time before last," said Pipe.

"He's a bit lower in the weights now and still shows his enthusiasm at home.

"He's not getting any younger, though, and it won't be easy for him.

"Goulanes was a smart novice and if he returned to his best, he would have a chance.

"He ran a bit better at Chepstow last time out and has been showing signs at home that he is coming back to form."

Sun Cloud was in the process of running a big race when he came down at the 15th fence in the Eider, much to the surprise of his trainer Malcolm Jefferson.

The seven-year-old had gone to Newcastle well fancied on the back of winning his two previous races at Hexham and Catterick.

"He's in good nick. He schooled well the other morning and we're hopeful," said Jefferson.

"He stays, that's his biggest forte, and he gallops. He's a young horse and can still improve.

"He jumped well (in the Eider) until he fell. He forgot to take off, that was the trouble. Hopefully, he'll do better tomorrow."

Bradley bounced back to form when triumphant in the Grand Military Gold Cup at Sandown.

That was only last week but his trainer Fergal O'Brien feels it is worth having a go at such a valuable race.

"He won very well last week. We're just hoping that he's come out of that race OK," he said.

"We're going to take a chance, it's a big pot and we're just hoping for the best."

Firebird Flyer followed up his courageous effort behind Emperor's Choice in the West Wales National at Ffos Las last month with victory in the Forbra Gold Cup at Ludlow.

Trainer Evan Williams believes the seven-year-old deserves to take his chance, although he is tackling stronger company and is wrong at the weights.

"It's a massive step up in class, but he ran a very good race over an extreme trip in terrible ground two starts ago," said Williams.

"I just think it's worth a crack on the better ground. We are out of the handicap, but we are only 2lb wrong with the rider's (Conor Ring, 7lb off) claim.

"It's worth a try. He's just a genuine little horse when he hits a little bit of form. He's had a wonderful season and he could run well at a big price."

Will Kinsey has fingers crossed Alpha Victor will be on his best behaviour after refusing to race twice over fences.

A winner over the bigger obstacles at Sedgefield in January, Alpha Victor was successful over hurdles at Bangor last month after digging his toes in at Warwick in between those two victories.

"He's rated 138 over hurdles and 130 over fences. We always thought he'd be a better chaser than he is a hurdler," said Kinsey.

"Obviously, he has a couple of issues, but he's been jumping well at home, so if he puts his best foot forward he's got a really good chance.

"He's only run 15 times. He's refused twice, but he's won five times, so he has a

good record.

"The trip should be no bother and he likes soft ground. He should have a big chance, hopefully."

West End Rocker has been primed by trainer Alan King for this race despite not having run since taking third place behind Monkerty Tunkerty at Doncaster in February, 2013.

"He has not run since he finished an excellent third in a veterans' chase at Doncaster 13 months ago, but he is back in very good form and this has been the plan with him for some time," the Barbury Castle handler told www.alankingracing.co.uk.

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