One of last season’s strongly fancied Grand National horses Definitly Red will begin his 2017/18 campaign in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby on November 4th. His Grand National chances were gone when the saddle slipped early on in the race last year and he may target the race again, or go for the Cheltenham Gold Cup instead.
The Charlie Hall Chase certainly looks like the right type of race to start in and it will be interesting to see how he goes in the race. He has reportedly summered very well and after winning on three of his four seasonal reappearances so far in his career, he is a horse who clearly goes well fresh. Should he win the Charlie Hall then I am sure the Brian Ellison camp will make the Gold Cup their number one priority over another tilt at the Grand National. They may still do that if he doesn’t win the Charlie Hall, but a win would surely force their hand to go for the Gold Cup.
After seeing Minella Rocco stay on up the Cheltenham hill to grab second in the Gold Cup last season, I am sure Brian Ellison will be hoping Definitly Red can do something similar should he run in the race. Stamina is certainly in abundance and the tougher the test the Gold Cup is, the more that will suit Definitly Red.
We have a long way to go until March or April though, depending on the target and Ellison will be hoping to see his stable star win a race or two before then. The Charlie Hall is a very good race, but one that is often overlooked by the real top class horses in favour of the Betfair Chase which takes place just three weeks later at Haydock. With a whole host of star names already confirmed for the Betfair Chase, the Charlie Hall could be the ideal starting point for Definitly Red, giving him a race he can win.
Now 8 years old, Definitly Red is in at his peak and after the huge disappointment at Aintree last season, this could be his year to shine. While many would love to see him return to Aintree for a crack at the Grand National, the Gold Cup route looks to be his favoured option right now. It is very difficult to get a genuine Gold Cup contender, especially for a Northern yard so it doesn’t surprise me if they go all out for the Gold Cup.
The national hunt season is close to returning and news like this certainly gets the blood pumping as many big horses name their early-season targets. The Charlie Hall at Wetherby is a fantastic race and sure to be full of big names, but Definitly Red may just be the biggest of them all, and he could take the race on the way to bigger and better things.