• Racing/
  • Harry On Top In Denman Slog

Betfair Denman Chase (3m) (Grade 2) 3m

  • (5yo+, 3m, Class 1, 5 runners)
  • Winner £28,475 2nd £10,685 3rd £5,350 4th £2,665 5th £1,340 6th £670
  • Going: Heavy
  • Surface: Turf
Weighed In:
  • Winning time: 6m 8.83s
  • Off time: 14:25:41
  • Last Updated: February 8 2014, 17:39 GMT

Harry Topper's return to his very best in the Newbury mud served to confirm Kim Bailey's position of only heading for the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup if conditions are similar on March 14.

Harry Topper and connections celebrate success
Harry Topper and connections celebrate success

The trainer has long regarded the seven-year-old as his best horse since his only Gold Cup winner to date, 1995 star Master Oats, and treads particularly carefully with him.

After a successful reappearance in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby, Harry Topper's jumping had deteriorated in two further outings but he simply coped with the ground far better than 5/4 favourite Al Ferof in the Denman Chase and trampled him by 25 lengths.

"We've believed in him from day one. He loves this ground and that makes a huge difference," said Bailey of the 7/2 winner.

"I know he dropped the bit and was given a couple of cracks down the far side, but once he gets going he's as tough as they come.

"We schooled him this morning over five fences and the last time I did that was when Master Oats won the Gold Cup all those years ago. They are similar horses with similar attitudes.

"He proved when he ran at Sandown he doesn't go on good ground and he won't go to Cheltenham for the Gold Cup unless it's very soft. He doesn't have to go anywhere."

  • Sprinter Sacre walks around the Newbury paddock as part of his recovery
  • Denman is lead around before the start of the Betfair Super Saturday at Newbury
  • Calipto heads for the Triumph Hurdle after an impressive performance in the opener
  • Upswing (green and yellow hoops) won a shade cosily under AP McCoy
  • Harry Topper relished the deep ground on his way to Denman Chase glory
  • Connections of Harry Topper now have their sights on the Cheltenham Gold Cup
  • Module appreciated the drop back to two miles with a hard-fought victory
  • Splash Of Ginge leads over the last to win the Betfair Hurdle...
  • ...and returns in triumph under Ryan Hatch
  • Connections celebrate a big pay day
  • Smad Place and Sam Winner jump the final fence together...
  • But Alan King's grey finds plenty for Robert Thorton and wins a comfortably

Paul Nicholls said of Al Ferof: "Daryl (Jacob) said he travelled very well but ran out of stamina.

"When Daryl got off he said the Ryanair. John Hales (owner) is keen to go for the Gold Cup, but I'm not sure he's an out-and-out stayer, certainly in that ground. We'll have to sit down and have a think about it."

Sky Bet halved Harry Topper's price to 25/1 for the Gold Cup in March, with representative Michael Shinners saying: "Soft ground looks to be an absolute must for Harry Topper. However, with the weather as it is, you couldn't discount a really testing surface at Cheltenham in March."

Sky Bet: NRMB on Big 4 Cheltenham championship races