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Melodic Rendezvous tunes up for Cheltenham Festival at Exeter

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: February 09, 2013

Harry Topper is highly rated by trainer Kim Bailey Dan Mullan/Pinnacle

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Jeremy Scott's smart hurdler Melodic Rendezvous is set to have his final run at Exeter tomorrow before heading to the Cheltenham Festival in just over a month's time.

The seven-year-old began his seasonal campaign at the course in October when he was beaten by Mr Mole, and then rattled off three successes including the 32 Red Hurdle Novices' Hurdle at Sandown in January, Scott's first Grade One winner.

The trainer said the outing should prove informative as well as educational for the gelding who has had just three starts over hurdles. "It's a tough race and none of us want to have a hard race in the run up to the Festival. But the horse should learn a lot as well. It will be more of an education if he'd gone to, say Doncaster, as he'll have to jump uphill and downhill.

"It's a stiff two miles, one furlong and if he doesn't get the trip, we'll go for the Supreme at the Festival but we'll know more after Sunday's run."

Also set to line up is Oliver Sherwood's unbeaten Puffin Billy who looked impressive at Ascot in December when coming home the four lengths winner in a Grade Two race.

An 18-runner novices' hurdle, sponsored by Bathwick Tyres, gets the card under way with the Paul Nicholls-trained Just A Par likely to head the betting on his first start for the champion trainer. He was an impressive winner of a maiden hurdle at Punchestown in November.

Kim Bailey considers Harry Topper, running in the Bathwick Tyres Graduation Chase, to be on a par with the best he has ever trained. The six-year-old won on his debut over fences at the course in October and then followed up with a win at Newbury in November where he stayed on strongly to win well enough in the end. He is entered in the John Oaksey National Hunt Chase at the Festival.

The Bathwick Tyres Barnstaple Handicap Chase is a Jockey Club Grassroots Jumps Series Qualifier and Oliver Sherwood is taking advantage of a 7lb penalty with Rouge Et Blanc after his emphatic win in a two miles five furlongs handicap chase at Huntingdon on Thursday.

Theatrical Star could see a return to form in the Bathwick Tyres Barnstaple Novices' Chase after pulling up at Cheltenham in January. Before that he finished second to the smart Buddy Bolero at the course on January 1.

Two divisions of the bumper could be informative with some potentially very smart types lining up. David Pipe has a smart crop of youngsters in his care this season and in the first division Vieux Lion Rouge could add to the two successes he has already scored this season. Nicholls has an interesting newcomer in Pure Oxygen, while Quick Decision and Tinker Time have both won this season.

In the second division, Carlton Jack won an 18-runner bumper at Carlisle in December while Pipe's The Liquidator has finished second in a hot bumper at Cheltenham in November.

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