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Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Thwarted Thomson hoping to see Grand National fancy Midnight out this weekend

Seeyouatmidnight: options at Newbury and Ascot this weekend
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Weather worries, gridlocked motorways and double-booked jockeys are not making life easy for trainer Sandy Thomson, but all will be forgotten if Seeyouatmidnight – the star of his stable in the Scottish Borders – delivers the biggest prize in jump racing at Aintree next month.

Off for nearly a year, Seeyouatmidnight has long been considered an ideal candidate for the Randox Health Grand National but needs to run in a chase this season to qualify for the £1 million marathon, for which he is a 33-1 shot.

Thomson had intended to take the ten-year-old, who thrashed Bristol De Mai by 12 lengths last season, to Carlisle on Sunday, but that meeting was cancelled, leaving Newbury on Saturday and Ascot the following day as the near-last-chance saloons.

"I'm not sure what we'll do," said Thomson. "Travel is a major consideration and if I'm setting off from Ascot at 8am on Monday it'll be a bloody nightmare around London. The horse is fine with the travel, but it might be we come halfway to Doncaster on Sunday night.

"He's had a wind operation and a bit of a suspensory problem, but I'm absolutely delighted where we are. We just need a race to qualify.

"He did a bit of work around James Ewart's the other day and I thought he went really well."

Thomson hopes leading rider Brian Hughes can retain his partnership this weekend with the son of Midnight Legend, who runs in the colours of the trainer's wife Quona.

He added: "He must have a fighting chance in the National and could be thrown in off 149.

"You need luck, but I was delighted with that mark as he was 154 after beating Bristol De Mai at Carlisle and he showed when he was third in the Scottish National two years ago that he'll stay. We think he's got the right credentials to do himself justice. He has so much more to offer. Richard Hale, the jockeys' agent, said it was a pity he wasn't entered in the Cheltenham Gold Cup as it would've been interesting to see how he'd have gone in that ground.

"It's the plan for Brian to ride, but he's got a full book of rides at Bangor on Saturday, so that's just another thing to chuck into the equation."

One horse who will not run in the National is Definitly Red, who finished sixth behind Native River and Might Bite in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday.

He could, however, still be in action at Aintree as Brian Ellison is eyeing the Betway Bowl.

"He was never going to for the National this year, but I think he will next year," the trainer said. "He's fine, but it was just too hard work for him in that ground and he couldn't jump out of it.

"We could've done with a shower to loosen it up, but saying that I thought the first two were very impressive.

"He's got an entry in the Bowl and he's still definitely a top one – he still finished sixth in the Gold Cup not jumping a fence. He was getting in too close and jumping into the bottom of them. He'll be fine on better ground."

Ninth in the Gold Cup was American, who is also in the National as well as the BoyleSports Irish Grand National.

His trainer Harry Fry said: "He was sixth at the top of the hill in the Gold Cup turning in and wasn't quite up to that level, but he gave everyone a great thrill for a long way.

"We'll see where we are in a week or so, but he's got the option of the English and Irish Nationals. We'll need to see how he is. In those conditions at Cheltenham, it didn't matter whether you won, were placed, unplaced or didn't finish, you had a hard race."

If you were interested in this, you might like . . .

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Seeyouatmidnight set for National spotlight in bid to emulate Arthur triumph

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He's had a wind operation and a bit of a suspensory problem but I'm absolutely delighted where we are
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