It has been confirmed that Definitly Red will miss the 2018 Grand National, with connections favouring a tilt at the Aintree Bowl instead, after seeing his performance in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He was to carry top weight in the National, and his absence will now mean the other runners getting lumped with a few more pounds.
There was a lot of talk about Definitly Red going into the race last season, and he appeared to have a great chance. However, during the race his saddle slipped underneath jockey Danny Cook, leaving him with no option but to pull the horse up. That appeared to be his best chance of winning the big one, it was desperately unlucky for trainer Brian Ellison and connections.
He was entered in the 2018 race, with the hope of going to Aintree and finding some redemption. He was sure to be popular and would be amongst the favourites providing he had a good campaign.
We appeared to get a clue as to what race he would target back in January when he had two engagements over the same weekend. Option one was to stay in the north, run in the SkyBet Chase handicap at Doncaster, while option two was to travel to Cheltenham and try his luck in the graded Cotswold Chase, over a very similar distance to the Gold Cup.
The camp chose to go to Cheltenham, trying to keep their Gold Cup hopes alive, and Definitly Red duly obliged for them, winning the Cotswold Chase with ease, setting up a Gold Cup tilt. He was confirmed for the Gold Cup but never ruled out of running for the Grand National. The decision was to be left open until after the race.
We have now had the confirmation from Brian Ellison that he will bypass the Grand National off a big weight, and instead run in the Aintree Bowl. The reasoning behind this is because they believe they have a much better chance of winning the Bowl. Red finished sixth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and he did that despite never really travelling in the race, and making numerous small jumping mistakes. For whatever reason, he didn’t enjoy the experience that day, and Ellison will be hoping that we see a much better performance from his horse in a few weeks at Aintree.
It is disappointing for Grand National fans that Definitly Red will miss the big event, although the decision does make sense. Definitly Red will instead head to the Aintree Bowl, looking to put in a better performance and turn around the form he showed in the Cheltenham Gold Cup.