A big contender for the Grand National this season looks to be Definitly Red, although his participation in the race is not yet confirmed. The news is expected soon, with trainer Brian Ellison stating that he will make a decision after his horse has run in the SkyBet Chase at Doncaster, which takes place on Saturday, January 27th.
The decision to be made with Definitly Red is whether he runs in the Cheltenham Gold Cup or the Grand National. He ran in the National last season, where he was well fancied before his saddle slipped and he had to be pulled up a very unfortunate incident.
The jumping test that the National brings, and the requirement for stamina is exactly what Definitly Red needs, and should he go for the National, he would have a good shot at winning the race. His price at the moment varies between 16/1 and 33/1 with the bookmakers, but it is only that high due to the uncertainty around his participation.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup option is not a surprise, the Gold Cup favourites this season all appear to have slight doubts hung over them, and if they slightly underperform then it looks to be a wide open renewal. Should he go for the Gold Cup, there wouldn’t be many in the race with better jumping ability or the staying power of Definitly Red. That means a tough test, where Definitly Red could go from the front and test those in behind would give him a chance of running very well.
First up, and to help make the decision about the rest of the season is the SkyBet Chase, a competitive three-mile handicap where Definitly Red will carry top weight. He will try and use his stamina and jumping ability in this race and got to the front to try and win it from there. If he is to run in the Gold Cup then he has to win the SkyBet Chase pretty convincingly, to show he has the class to compete with some of the horses that are scheduled to line up.
However, he is also going to have to run well to show he can be a genuine National contender. His current handicap mark is much higher than when he ran in the National last season, so getting in the race isn’t a problem. However, he does need to prove he can win off this mark, and that is what we will find out in the SkyBet Chase. If he is beaten by speed, because the three-mile trip is too short, then the Grand National looks to be the obvious target. However, he would still need to finish close, to show there is a race in him off this handicap mark.
After this weekend, we should have a better idea of where Definitly Red will run. Should he put up a good performance, but not win the race and show signs that three miles is too short for him then he looks set for another bid at the Grand National.