Touch of sadness clouds Scottish Grand National weekend
An eventful weekend of racing at Ayr sprouted various spin-offs for Borders trainers and jockeys – reflecting the good and bad sides of the sport.
Lambden-based handler Sandy Thomson had the second-placed and fourth-placed finishers in the £150,000 Coral Scottish Grand National, while Hawick jockey Blair Campbell narrowly missed out on the chance of riding the eventual winner, Mighty Thunder.
Aye Right, trained by Jedburgh’s Harriet Graham and ridden by Callum Bewley, of Hawick, was favourite among a very strong Scottish contingent but ended up crossing the line in 10th place.
Unfortunately, the race had a tragic footnote, when Claud and Goldie, a veteran 12-year-old chestnut gelding trained by Sandy Forster, of Yetholm, and piloted by regular rider Richie McLernon, collapsed and died after the race.
Victory for Mighty Thunder, ridden by Tom Scudamore, marked a success for well-known trainer Lucinda Russell, who helped guide the Borders-owned Aintree Grand National winner in 2017, One For Arthur.
Mighty Thunder led home a one-two-four-five of Scottish runners, with only the Irish-trained Mister Fogpatches, in third, preventing a clean sweep of the first five places.
Blair Campbell was scheduled to ride him but was not fully fit, so his place was taken by Tom Scudamore, son of Peter Scudamore.
Campbell is expected to be back in the saddle next season, according to Lucinda Russell, who said they had some “nice targets” for him.
Sandy Thomson, who also had three runners on the undercard at Ayr, said he had experienced “all the emotions” during the Grand National. Galashiels jockey Ryan Mania rode Dingo Dollar into the runner-up spot, while the Ferry Master, with Sean Quinlan aboard, was fourth.
"It was brilliant – the horses ran so well but, obviously, we are slightly gutted that we didn’t win,” added Sandy, who had earlier tweeted: “Delighted with our Dingo Dollar – very gallant run, just headed near the line into second. And our The Ferry Master in fourth. Great race. Congratulations to the winner Mighty Thunder.”
Sandy, whose Kelso stable last month lost Bellshill, one of its most promising runners, said the passing of Claud and Goldie was desperately sad. Events, however, had been put into true perspective after the death this week of amateur rider Lorna Brooke, who passed away after a fall earlier this month at Taunton.
“That really is desperate,” he added. “It puts everything we do into perspective. It shows what these jockeys do when they go out to ride. It’s thankfully a rare occurrence but it still does happen.”
With the end of the season coming up soon, the Thomson team have a few runners at Perth this week, while they may be in action again in Hexham at the beginning of May.