Master Dee could set himself up for a crack at the Grand National with a good performance in Saturday’s Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury.
The 10-year-old finished outside the first three for the first time in his career last time out, but he did have a valid excuse as he returned with an injury.
He has had a wind operation in his time off and is reunited with Barry Geraghty, who rode him to victory in a valuable race at Kempton this time last year.
“When he ran at Market Rasen, he got a bad overreach which has held him up a little bit,” said trainer Fergal O’Brien.
“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 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.”
A field of 16 has been declared for the Newbury highlight, with Paul Nicholls responsible for three contenders.