Midnight strikes in Sandown Veterans’ highlight

Sandy Thomson enhanced his reputation for restoring horses to their former glories as he sent out Seeyouatmidnight to land the Unibet Veterans’ Handicap Chase at Sandown.

Having revived the fortunes of Grade One scorer Yorkhill to win the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle last November, the Lambden handler saw his magic touch work wonders again as his stable stalwart rolled back the years in the three-mile prize.

Racing prominently throughout, the dual Grade Two scorer moved into a lead he would not surrender jumping the last out of the back straight, despite being faced with a host of challengers.

Meeting the final two fences on a good stride, the 10-1 chance answered jockey Ryan Mania’s every call to hold off the late thrust of Crosspark by a length, just a day after officially turning 13.

Thomson said: “We are here today because of him. If it wasn’t for him, where would our training career be? It is such a shame he hasn’t been a sounder horse throughout his career, but he has given us so many great days. You just have to enjoy the good ones.

“This will give me immense pleasure, as has any race he has won, because he has very seldom gone out in a little novice chase or hurdle – he has always had to go out with the big boys.

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“He has kicked most of the fences out the twice he has been to Haydock (where he was pulled up on his latest start), but he did a great bit of work with Yorkhill a fortnight ago and that is when I thought we were going to go (to Sandown).”

Seeyouatmidnight jumps the last at Sandown
Seeyouatmidnight jumps the last at Sandown (Alan Crowhurst/PA)

Seeyouatmidnight was initially owned by Thomson’s wife Quona, but was sold to David and Patricia Thompson before finishing 11th in the 2018 Grand National.

However, the Thompsons gifted the gelding back to Thomson after he was retired following that Aintree spin.

Thomson added: “The Thompsons very kindly said ‘we are not going to go on with him, you may have him back and do as you wish’.

“He was officially retired. He came down to Newmarket and the vets did all the tests – he had scans and things and they sent them to America. They came back and the verdict was the horse wouldn’t stand training. We just started riding him at home and he kept sound.

“There were a couple of nights I went into his box and thought it was over, but we have then given him an easy time and it has been a little flare-up or a knock, and here we are.”

Though Thomson has enjoyed many memorable days with Seeyouatmidnight, he believes he could have gone on to even greater glory had his career not been interrupted at various points by injury.

He said: “We bought him at Doncaster and it was almost seven years ago to the day that he won at Hexham.

“That was the beginning, then it was on to Musselburgh and the Rendlesham, then the novice hurdle at Aintree. Then it all sort of went wrong.

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“He was bang there at the last in the (2015) World Hurdle, but it was his second run of the season and he wasn’t quite fit enough probably.

“He had a great novice chase career, winning the (2016) Dipper, then beating Bristol De Mai – then it really did go a bit wrong.

“We got him back, he had the National as his second race and it was a complete nightmare because we had to go to Newbury (before running at Aintree), as we couldn’t go for a racecourse gallop. He ran a hell of a race in the National, but he just got tired.”

Coronavirus may have scuppered Thomson’s plan to run Seeyouatmidnight in last year’s Scottish National, but the Grade Three prize at Ayr will once again be his target in April.

Thomson added: “Last season he went to Kelso, we were delighted he got round and were amazed he won at Carlisle 15 days later, as that was the race to get him fit for the Scottish National, but that didn’t happen.

“Anything could be a possibility. We would love to run him in the Scottish National. We are very fortunate we have got a lot of nice horses. As he is ours, we will take it day by day. We will get him home, he will get a good break and the Scottish National might be something.”

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