Ellison has also declared his classy stayer for the 888Sport Grimthorpe Handicap Chase at Doncaster, but Kelso remains the 11-year-old’s first preference if the weather does not intervene.
Definitly Red, the mount of Danny Cook, was beaten over the course and distance a year ago by Captain Redbeard, but whereas that two-horse race did not fit easily into his programme, this Listed assignment back at the Borders track has always been mapped out.
“He’s very good, we’re really happy. He’s very well,” said Malton-based Ellison. “It’s a good pot at Kelso. I wouldn’t say the track really suits him. It’s sharp, but it doesn’t matter – it’s a prep race for the National. Last year he wasn’t really ready for Kelso when he got beat. This year, it’s been planned.”
Meanwhile Nicky Richards is hoping to secure back-to-back Grimthorpe wins with Chidswell.
Yet, while the going was good last year, conditions on Town Moor are now testing.
“The ground might not be in his favour this year,” said Richards who trains in Cumbria.
“He has won on heavy, but not at a level as competitive as this. We’re planning to run anyway. If it went absolutely rotten, we might have a think.
“He’s in grand fettle and ready to run and I thought he ran a fine race in the Sky Bet Chase (third) last time.”
Sandy Thomson is relishing the task of attempting to revitalise the fortunes of dual Cheltenham Festival winner Yorkhill.
The enigmatic 10-year-old has not shown his best form for a while, prompting trainer Willie Mullins and owner Graham Wylie to give him a fresh start.
Wylie has given the gelding to Dave Armstrong, who has horses with Thomson.
“He’s not with us yet. He’s hopefully coming next week,” said Thomson
“We hope to have a bit of fun with him. It’s something we’ve managed to do with some of these older horses before to come to a smaller yard – Harry The Viking, Neptune Equester and Shades Of Midnight to a lesser extent.
“All slightly lost their way and came back and won really good races.”