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Last Updated: 02/11/13 5:58pm
Harry Topper won a thrilling renewal of the Charlie Hall
Harry Topper got the better of a thrilling duel with Wayward Prince to win the bet365 Charlie Hall Chase, but Long Run produced probably the most disappointing effort of his distinguished steeplechasing career and finished well beaten.
As the field turned for home, six of the seven runners were almost in a line across the track and it looked tough to call.
But as the early exertions of pacesetter Benefficient took their toll, it was stamina which won the day, a quality which Harry Topper (5/1) has in abundance. Niggled along to keep up in the early stages, he kept on stronger than his rivals in the final stages to hold off the persistent challenge of Wayward Prince (50/1), who was finishing second in the race for the second year running.
Unioniste was close-up in third, but Long Run finished a long way back last of the five finishers having made a bad mistake down the bad straight.
Sky Bet cut the winner from 25/1 to 20/1 for the Gold Cup.
"Last year he was running in novice chases and we gave him time and we weren't able to give him the chance to do that in a race like this - I'm afraid it's just a case of him warming up over his early fences," Bailey said of the winner.
"He's got guts and that's what takes him away from most horses. He doesn't want to be headed and to give him his due he hardly has been.
"There was no point coming here today to learn if he was fit and that's why he was fit today. We'll give him a few days now to let him get over this. He's in the Hennessy but I don't think we'll be going there.
"It [the Gold Cup] obviously has to be something you think about. He'll have all the entries you would expect but we'll have to see what's next for him.
"He's most probably going to be out of handicap company and I don't think he's necessarily ready for handicap company in any case - his jumping's not up to it yet."
Admitting that he has always had only the highest hopes for Harry Topper, Bailey went on: "I've always hoped for big things from him, but he's had a problem with his jumping. He doesn't want soft ground for his jumping but he needs soft ground to help slow the others down a bit.
"He's like Master Oats in that he's all guts. I hope I did the right thing by missing Cheltenham last year but we took him to Kelso for an easy race and he fell. Then he was brought down in Ireland and that knocked him back mentally. He's not easy to train, he's a box walker but he's got guts and Jason knows him well.
"I've always had to be patient with him. He was in a field two years ago and I'm here a year earlier than I expected. I don't know where we go from here because even though Long Run ran it wasn't the real Long Run and the second is an exposed 11-year-old, so the form at the minute doesn't look great."