Topper can come out on top

Steve Hughes has two selections for a good card at Exeter

A strong fixture at Exeter even despite a relative lack of runners. I have selections for the two handicaps on the card. Kalashnikov’s Betfair Hurdle win got us in front for the day on Saturday (advised 14/1).

Exeter 3.05: Lovenormoney

He is certainly not the most reliable of propositions but Lovenormoney is an out and out stayer and has the right jockey in Richard Johnson on board to exploit that attribute on this stiff track and heavy ground.

He has been tailed off on two of his three starts this term, but in between times he made all to win at Chepstow, defeating today’s rival Present Times by 9l in the process. He made all that day on the undulating track and simply galloped his rivals into submission.

It is possible his last run at Cheltenham came too soon afterwards, or perhaps the track was simply not to his liking. However there are stamina doubts about most of the opposition – Dancing Shadow is the other in the field guaranteed to stay, but that horse has looked out of form of late. Johnson’s only previous time on board the selection was when landing that Chepstow contest.

Exeter 3.35: Harry Topper

He has been around for years but Harry Topper is still a relative youngster in these veteran contests having just turned eleven. His forte has always been staying so despite top weight and a long absence, he could be up to the challenge here.

In truth it is a long time since we saw him at his best – in fact it is four years ago this weekend when he last won a race, the Denman Chase at Newbury. However he has not been the easiest to train and is probably one of those horses not quite good enough for the top graded races but high enough in the handicap to make it tough for him in that sphere. However he has dropped from a peak mark of 161 to 140 for today.

His last two runs of last season were not bad, fourth beaten just 5l in this contest last year and then fourth at Newbury in another veterans contest. One factor in his favour today is that he is not always very fluent over the jumps but there will be at least four fences being omitted due to the ground and there could be more left out if the sun causes an issue in the back straight.

Recommended bets:

0.75pts each-way – Lovenormoney – 3.05 Exeter – 11/2 Paddy Power

1pt win – Harry Topper – 3.35 Exeter – 11/2 general

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