Sandy Thomson will be bidding to bag the Listed Rehearsal Handicap Chase for the second time on Saturday, having taken the race in 2020 with Grade One winner Yorkhill.
He pulled off one of the shocks of the season when Yorkhill won it at 66-1 a year ago, and heads to Newcastle with two lively contenders this weekend.
Both The Ferry Master and Dingo Dollar, who have been declared for Saturday’s race, ran in the Scottish National and it was the latter who emerged best in second behind Mighty Thunder, after the pair raced clear of the rest for much of the home straight.
The Ferry Master was nearly seven lengths back in fourth, but that only tells half the story, as Thomson explains. “When they went to Ayr, I was always doubtful if The Ferry Master would stay, but the owners were keen to go.
“Did he stay? It’s an unanswered question, but turning, in he looked the winner, and he probably got there too soon.
“What we can safely say I think is that he’s not going to be inconvenienced by coming back to three miles, having won over the course and distance as a novice on the same card last year, and I think it’s going to be a stiff ask for Dingo Dollar to give him 17lb.”
The Ferry Master was having just his fourth run over fences in the Scottish National and so he ought to have plenty of scope for improvement still, according to Thomson.
“They always say the Scottish National is a fairly rough race, but he handled it really well and jumped well,” he said.
“I’ve got (recent Haydock second) Empire Steel on 142 and (Hexham winner) Doyen Breed amazingly on 143 now. The Ferry Master is only 132, but I wouldn’t like to say which is the best of them. With Nuts Well staying in on top weight, he’s got a lovely weight on 10 stone, although it means Ryan (Mania) can’t ride him.”
“We were delighted with Dingo Dollar’s reappearance at Kelso, as we were with The Ferry Master’s at Musselburgh, and he ran a big race on soft ground in the Ladbrokes Trophy three years ago, so I don’t think he’ll be inconvenienced by the rain they forecast for Saturday.
“It will make it more of a test, and the owners would like to run him in the National, so hopefully he’ll run a solid race and keep his rating high enough.
“He had a go over the Aintree fences before he joined me, but that was when he had lost his way completely.”