Kim Bailey faces tough call over Harry Topper's Cheltenham Festival plans
KIM Bailey is facing a massive decision over Cheltenham Festival plans for one of the most talented horses he has ever trained.
The Andoversford handler rates rising star Harry Topper as potentially his best horse since 1995 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero Master Oats.
The youngster is among the favourites for the John Oaksey National Hunt Chase for amateur riders over four miles after winning his past three races.
But Bailey has warned that gelding, who he has described as still "weak and immature", may miss the showpiece meeting next month.
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"He's in the four-miler at Cheltenham but I really just don't know at the moment," he said.
"He's still only six, which is one thing to consider, and the ground is a major issue because four miles on heavy ground wouldn't be ideal and if it dries up he wouldn't go anyway.
"Soft ground would be what I'd want to run him on, and I'd also have to get a decent amateur to ride him.
"Tony Solomons (co-owner) is adamant we don't go but the other partner is keen to go.
"They'll let me make the final decision and I don't have to make it really until ten days or a week before the race.
"So much can happen between now and then and lot will depend on the ground.
"If we get something of a heatwave and it's good ground at Cheltenham and they start watering, he won't go."
Harry Topper chalked up a hat-trick of wins over fences and his sixth success from nine races at Exeter on Sunday.
He was always going well under Jason Maguire and pulled clear easily in the home straight to score by 12 lengths, underling why Bailey rates him so highly.
"I was pleased with the style in which he won – he won nicely – and Jason was very, very happy with him," said the Grand National-wining trainer.
"We've always thought a lot of him, it's just a question of whether they can justify the hype."
Master Oats famously pummelled his rivals into the ground to win the Gold Cup under Norman Williamson.
Bailey said Harry Topper reminded him of the celebrated chaser in terms of his willingness to go about his job.
"They've got the same attitude, they'll run until they drop and they're as tough as old boots," he said.