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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Red could go for Gold after his Aintree misfortune

Definitly Red: practice over a National-style fence at home could not save him from ill luck at Aintree
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Brian Ellison refused to be downcast after a luckless Grand National day and is already eyeing big-race compensation bids in 2017-18.

Definitly Red had been a leading fancy for the National since his Grimthorpe Chase success and jockey Danny Cook felt he had taken well to the challenge until he was hampered at Becher's first time.

"Definitly Red jumped like a buck but the horse fell in front of him and Danny did well to stay on," Ellison said on Sunday.

"He went up in the air and when he came down the saddle went round his belly. He jumped another two fences without a saddle then pulled up. He's fine, that's the main thing."

The trainer has Grade 1 ambitions for the eight-year-old next season, and said: "He'll start off in the Charlie Hall and we'll take it from there. He's rated 159 now and I'd hope he'll make into a Gold Cup horse. He's not far behind them."

Stablemate Forest Bihan, left in front by Politologue's unlucky fall after the last, was caught close home by San Benedeto in the Maghull Novices' Chase.

"It was very frustrating and I think he'd have won if the grey had stood up," Ellison said. "We were at pains to try to not hit the front –when he did Brian Hughes said he was pulling up.

"He'll be a 150-odd horse, he's got a good turn of foot and wouldn't be far away from being a Champion Chase horse. Like Definitly Red, he hasn't got many miles on the clock.

Forest Bihan (right) was caught close home by San Benedeto at Aintree

"They're nice horses to go to war with and I'm not disillusioned – I know what the National is like. It's all luck and we didn't get any."

Lost it at the start

Last year's runner-up The Last Samuri finished 16th on his second crack at the National, and trainer Kim Bailey said: "I think the two false starts probably ruined his chances.

"He gets very wound up at the races and that'll have really psyched him out. It was going to be tough under the weight any way, but he's a fragile horse mentally and that was just about the worst thing that could have happened."

Stablemate Charbel was beaten favourite for the Maghull, and his trainer said: "The mistake he made [at six out] would have stopped just about anything. He made another mistake at the next but then jumped the rest fine. It's a funny track Aintree, as they go round those bends so fast, and it doesn't suit everyone.

"They've both come back fine but they'll most probably have a good break now until next season."

Highland Lodge, pulled up before the last in the National, will return to Aintree in a bid to land another Becher Chase in the autumn.

"The ground had dried out too much for him and he ran a brave race for a long way considering he was going two strides faster than ideal," said trainer Jimmy Moffatt.

Aintree Saturday results and analysis

He is rated 159 now and I'd hope he'll make a Gold Cup horse. He's not far behind them
E.W. Terms
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