The popular veteran Definitly Red is among the favourites for the Grand National, following a wide-margin victory on Saturday. Now 11 years old, Brian Ellison’s game steeplechaser was unlucky to be knocked out of the Aintree race three years ago and will be given the chance to complete some unfinished business with the £1m contest on 4 April.
“I’ve backed him for the National,” Ellison said in Kelso’s winner’s enclosure. The North Yorkshire trainer is presumably on at the 33-1 that was available until Definitly Red’s success. The chestnut was immediately cut to a top price of 20-1, with most firms going 16-1 or shorter.
“I’ve always thought the race would suit him, as he’s a proper stayer,” Ellison continued. “He’s got plenty going for him, he’s got a nice weight, 10st 12lb, but you need luck.”
Definitly Red got none of that in the 2017 National, for which he was only two points off being favourite but lost all chance when The Young Master fell in front of him at Becher’s Brook. Danny Cook, shot up in the air, managed to come back on the horse’s back, only to find the saddle was no longer there, having slipped sideways. Stuck in the middle of the pack, the pair were obliged to jump the next before pulling up.
“There’s no such thing as a free pass in the National, but I think he’s got a massive chance,” Ellison enthused. Alluding to the horse who has won at Aintree for the last two years, he said: “I hope we can spoil the Tiger Roll party.”
Definitly Red warmed up for the 2017 National by winning Doncaster’s Grimthorpe Chase. Saturday’s renewal of the Grimthorpe turned into a procession in extremely testing conditions, Captain Chaos plugging on dourly to beat Worthy Farm by 54 lengths.
Earlier at Doncaster, the 13-year-old Gino Trail showed renewed enthusiasm on his first start for Fergal O’Brien, winning for the first time in two years. Almost nine years after his first point to point, he made every yard of the running and could line up next in the Grand Annual at the Cheltenham Festival.
Newbury’s card scheduled for Saturday was abandoned due to waterlogging after significant overnight rain. An inspection is scheduled for Sedgefield’s Sunday card, while Chepstow has already given up on its Monday race-meeting. Wetherby, which also has a Monday fixture, is described as “borderline raceable” with more rain forecast.