Brian Ellison’s charge was tackling the Grand National fences for the first time since being pulled up after almost being brought down when a leading contender for the world’s most famous steeplechase in 2017.
Since then Definitly Red has won the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree twice, the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham and the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby – proving himself a high-class staying chaser.
Ellison considered letting his charge bid for a Many Clouds Chase hat-trick last weekend, but opted to send him over the National fences to find out whether a second tilt at the Aintree spectacular was realistic – and he believes he got the answer he was looking for.
“I was over the moon with him. He was running well in the National a couple of years ago until he was almost brought down, but that’s the National for you,” said the Norton-based trainer.
“I thought he jumped great the other day and he seems to have come out of the race well, so all being well, we’ll aim for the National.
“He probably won’t run again until February now, after the National weights have come out.
“The handicapper dropped him 1lb, which was nice of him.”
Henry Daly is set to make a late call as to where in the next few days Stoney Mountain will make his debut over fences.
The Ludlow trainer will discuss three options with owner Trevor Hemmings’s racing manager Mick Meagher for the six-year-old, who signed off over hurdles with victory in a valuable staying handicap at Haydock last month. Coming up first is the International Decorative Surface Novices’ Chase at Cheltenham tomorrow, when he could face strong opposition such as Wholestone. The bet365 December Novices’ Chase at Doncaster on Saturday is the second option, but he would be taking on Sam Spinner and Windsor Avenue.
Then there is an opportunity for Stoney Mountain at an extra meeting for Hereford next Thursday. “I haven’t talked to Mick about it yet. There’s also a beginners’ chase next week at Hereford. We’ll enter him there as well,” said Daly.
“He’s ready to run and they are the three novice or beginners’ chases he will be ready for. I haven’t really looked into it yet.
“My preference, I suppose, would be Cheltenham just because it looks slightly weaker on paper, but only by a fraction.
“We’ve been very happy with his schooling. He is what he is. Unexciting is the wrong way of putting it – he does what he does.”
Evan Williams reports Silver Streak to be on course for the Ladbrokes Christmas Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day following his run in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle.
Third in last season’s Champion Hurdle when a 50-1 outsider, the six-year-old made a winning seasonal debut in a Listed contest at Kempton in October, before stepping back up to Grade One company at Newcastle, where the grey took minor honours as Cornerstone Lad and Buveur D’Air fought out a dramatic finish.
“He’s come out of the race very well. It was good to get that under our belt and we’ll keep an eye on the Christmas Hurdle now,” said Williams.
“I think we’ll aim for that. If we think he needs more time, we will give him it but, at the moment, we’re on track for Kempton.”