We saw a fantastic round of jumping from Definitly Red to land the Grade Two Charlie Hall Chase last Saturday at Wetherby. It was a great display, showing the horse is as good as ever ahead of the upcoming season.
The race was decimated throughout the week, with some big names pulling out. This was due to the unusually quick ground we have seen recently. That meant it wasn’t a vintage renewal of the race, but with Black Corton in the line-up, it was a decent Grade Two contest.
Double Shuffle from trainer Tom George went the first fence. That left just three runners – Black Corton, Virgilio and Definitly Red. While the others made some obvious jumping errors, Red popped over every fence like the natural that he is. When asked for an effort by jockey Danny Cook he eased away from his two remaining rivals. It was a clear demonstration of stamina for not only this three-mile trip but potentially much further.
He won a shade comfortably in the end and his next target will be the Many Clouds Chase, a race he won last season.
Where the horse goes after that remains to be seen. Trainer Brian Ellison, hasn’t made clear what the main target of the season is. Two years ago, the main target was the Grand National. He was very unlucky in that race with the saddle slipping causing him to be pulled up. Up to that point he had been travelling and jumping very nicely.
Last season the yard decided to aim him at the Cheltenham Gold Cup. Unfortunately he didn’t quite run his race and the soft ground that day certainly went against him. Chances are that he could place if he was aimed that way again. That said, it looks more likely that the 2019 Grand National will be his main target. However, he will probably have to carry a lot more than the 10-10 of 2017!
There is one issue with Definitly Red. When he is up against the very best horses, he is unable to dictate and get into a rhythm. However he has been improving in that regard as evidenced by his Wetherby race last weekend.
In his National run of two years ago he looked very settled. He was in a rhythm and jumping well before becoming incredibly unlucky. And as we all know, you need luck to win a Grand National! Definitly Red is certainly owed some from his last appearance in the race.
We may not find out the confirmed target for a number of weeks yet. But we do know that the next time we will see the horse will be in the Many Clouds Chase. That race is scheduled for December 8th 2018 atAintree Racecourse. That’s also the same day as the Becher Chase.
If Definitly Red was mine, and I was making the decisions, I would aim at the Grand National. He would have a lot of weight to carry, but that race would suit him a lot more than the Gold Cup. Bet365 currently have ante-post odds of 33/1 on him for the 2019 Grand National.