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Master Dee setting himself up for crack at Grand National

Master Dee finished outside the first-three for the very first time in his last appearance but the 10-year-old did have an excuse given that he returned having suffered an injury. The runner has received an operation in his period of absence and is once again reunited with Barry Geraghty for the upcoming Greatwood Gold Cup, the jockey steering him to victory at Kempton Park last year.

Trainer Fergal O’Brien provided us with an update as to Master Dee’s prospects in the coming weeks: “When he ran at Market Rasen, he got a bad overreach which has held him up a little bit,” he said.

“It normally takes a run to put him spot on, but we’re hoping we’ve got him as fit as we can at home to do himself justice.

“Until Market Rasen, he’d never been out of the first three in over 20 races. He’s so consistent so we’re going there with a lot of hope and our fingers crossed.

“The Grand National is definitely being considered. When Barry (Geraghty) won on him at Kempton last year, he got off and said you could run him over as far as you’d like, he’ll stay any trip.

“The Aintree fences and the flat track will suit him down to the ground and he’s got a lovely racing weight, so I’ll be excited to run him there.

“In the old days you’d think 151 would be too high to win a National, but you need it now just to get in, and rightly so – there’s £1 million up for grabs, you want the best horses.

“Someone asked me one year after Alvarado didn’t get in after finishing fourth the previous two years if we should have automatic qualification but I didn’t agree, the race is increasing in quality every year.”

16 runners have been declared for the Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury on Saturday, Paul Nicholls fielding three contenders.