DEFINITLY Red, one of the country’s most popular staying steeplechasers, has been retired.
The horse’s last run was in yesterday’s Randox Grand National when he was pulled up just before the penultimate of the 30 fences.
Yet, while the 12-year-old was fine after a race that saw Rachael Blackmore make National history on Minella Times by becoming the first female jockey to win the National, connections have decided to call time on Definitly Red’s career.
Owned by Phil and Julie Martin, he was trained at Malton by Brian Ellison and became a firm stable favourite.
He won a Grade Two hurdle at Haydock in February 2015 under Richard Johnson, the now retired champion jockey, before making a successful switch to fences.
His four Grade Two wins over larger obstacles included two Many Clouds Chases at Aintree, a Cotswolds Chase at Cheltenham and the 2018 Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby.
The winner of 15 out of his 38 career starts, he was integral to the careers of jockeys Danny Cook and Henry Brooke in particular.
He was also good enough to run in two Cheltenham Gold Cups and the 2017 National when pulled up after the luckless Cook’s saddle slipped.
“He’s going to take some replacing,” Ellison told The Yorkshire Post as he confirmed the retirement decision this morning.
“He’s the best chaser I’ve trained. Andy Robertson, my travelling head lad who rides him out each day, will have him and we’ll keep him at a livery up the road.
“He was a fantastic horse and he owes us nothing.”
Ellison said Definitly Red, a former Yorkshire horse of the year, was “fine” after his National exertions in which younger, and better-handicapped, horses had too much speed for his veteran.
He also praised 2013 National-winning rider Ryan Mania, a late replacement for the aforementioned Brooke who was left concussed by a heavy fall at Sedgefield on Friday.
“He’s fine,” added the trainer. “They went quick and he never got into a rhythm. I told Ryan to look after him and he gave him a great ride, doing just that.”
As for Mania who gave up an ultimately winning ride on Sue Smith’s Cracking Find to divert to Merseyside, the smile etched across the face, as he walked back to the weighing room behind the victorious Minella Times, told its own story.
Proud to have secured, albeit in unfortunate circumstances, a National ride 18 months after making a comeback, he said he was even more privileged to have ridden a horse of Definitly Red’s calibre in the race before thanking connections for giving him the opportunity.