Gold hopes fading for Topper

Harry Topper appears increasingly likely to sidestep Friday's Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup and could go to the Midlands Grand National.

The seven-year-old kicked off the season with a thrilling victory in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby, but was unable to make an impact on better ground at Sandown in December.

Kim Bailey's charge performed well when third in January's Argento Chase at Cheltenham and earned a tilt at the Gold Cup when sluicing through the Newbury mud to claim last month's Denman Chase.

But with the ground continuing to dry out at Cheltenham, the Gold Cup-winning trainer admits a trip to Uttoxeter 24 hours later appears a more likely target.

Bailey said: "The forecast is not looking particularly encouraging for us as far as Friday is concerned.

"If the heavens opened he'll run at Cheltenham, but that looks unlikely at this stage, so we've entered him at Uttoxeter.

"Considering the ground is soft, heavy in places at Uttoxeter, it looks more likely he'll run there."