DEFINITLY Red could return to Aintree for a Grade One chase at the Grand National track after a faultless round of jumping to secure the Many Clouds Chase at the Merseyside track.
“Not a bad horse!” joked jockey Danny Cook to connections after making all in Saturday’s Grade Two test on testing ground that had been made sloppy by rain, sleet and snow.
When the Malcolm Jefferson-trained Cloudy Dream, a top- class horse in his own right, challenged in the home straight, Cook’s charge – who jumped big and bold throughout the three mile race – found more in a race that was an eagerly-awaited clash between the two Malton protagonists.
It’s also a race with a distinguished roll of honour headed by last year’s ill-fated winner Many Clouds.
“I was in third gear the whole way. Very impressive,” said Cook. “When he sees a stride, he’s very good and I knew he’d stay the three miles.”
Pulled up in the Grand National itself after a melee at Becher’s Brook, trainer Brian Ellison – and owner Phil Martin – plan to miss Cheltenham and Aintree’s showpiece race.
After crediting his daughter Jessica for doing the training while he was away in Singapore, Ellison said: “He was brilliant today, his jumping was immaculate, that’s what won him it.
“We knew the others might have stamina worries so Danny could be aggressive on him.
“We’ll give him plenty of time to get over this, but I’d say we won’t be aiming at Cheltenham.
“The plan will be to be back at Aintree in April for the Grade One Bowl, I think.
“He doesn’t mind good ground, he just doesn’t like it tacky like it was at Wetherby in the Charlie Hall.”
There was compensation for the Jefferson stable when Black Ivory won the two-and-a-half-mile handicap hurdle under Brian Hughes.
This improving horse was born at Jefferson’s yard and the only time he’s left it was for a race at Perth when he didn’t eat up – the five-year-old clearly relishes his home comforts.