Definitly Red put his hat in to the ring for the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup with a relentless display in the BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase on Saturday - watch a full replay, analysis and reaction.
By Racinguk.com staff
Definitly Red looks like giving the north a realistic shot at winning the Timico Gold Cup at Cheltenham 25 years on from Jodami after a clear-cut win in the BetBright Trial Cotswold Chase.
Trainer Brian Ellison had been without a win at the home of National Hunt racing since 2001 and had endured some wretched luck in the past, but all that has been forgotten now.
Having progressed through handicaps last year, the nine-year-old was nearly brought down in the Grand National but a performance of this nature marks him down as a real Gold Cup prospect.
The race had quickly changed in complexion turning for home, as American, who seemed to be going well in front, was passed by Definitly Red and the favourite, Bristol De Mai.
However, the grey Bristol De Mai had made a series of niggly errors and they caught up with him as Danny Cook bounded clear on the 7-1 winner, with American plugging on for second, eight lengths away.
Bristol De Mai finished third, not looking the horse who was so impressive in the Betfair Chase in November.
It was a first win at the course for Ellison for 16 years - and 78 runners.
"That was brilliant," he said. "He's class, isn't he? Danny gave him a great ride, he gets on great with him.
"I thought the other horse (American) was going better, but Danny took a pull to lie a couple of lengths off him and when he gave him a kick in the belly he took off.
"He's just got better every year and the plan this year was to keep him fresh. Today would tell us if we went for the Gold Cup, so we'll go now.
"He wants good ground, I think he'll be better on it as he's not short of speed. He just doesn't like it tacky.
"It's a good place to have a winner. You've got to have a good horse to come here and he's the best I've ever trained."
Cook is now in line to have his first ever Gold Cup ride and said: "He stayed on really well. He got a bit lonely in front and had a good look.
"I'd like to dedicate that to my grandad, who is not very well, we don't know how much longer he's got, he said he'd love to see me ride a winner at Cheltenham and he has.
"This horse is going from strength to strength, he gave me a nice feel today."
Ellison added: "Danny is probably one of the best jockeys riding. He had to use his head down the back.
"I thought he was impressive at Aintree last time, but nobody really noticed it. I'm over the moon."
Nigel Twiston-Davies said of Bristol De Mai: "I'm disappointed, what else can I say? Something might come of it."
Anthony Bromley, racing manager to owners Simon Munir and Issac Souede, said: "We've asked him a few questions and we've found them out. We came here hopeful, but it doesn't look like we've got a Gold Cup horse on that run.
"He will get an entry to the Grand National on Tuesday, and it might be the National more than the Gold Cup."
Harry Fry, trainer of American, said: "It was a huge run, I'm absolutely delighted. I was thinking 'here we go again' but he warmed to the task and relished the conditions.
"He jumped his way to the front and for a long way I thought he was going to do it.
"He didn't have a proper run in the Ladbrokes Trophy and maybe that cost us. It was a huge run. He's not in the Gold Cup, but if conditions come up like that we might have to think about supplementing him."
Kim Bailey was equally thrilled with fourth home The Last Samuri, who will once again head for the Grand National, in which he finished runner-up in 2016.
"He has won a proper Grand National Trial and will go straight to Aintree," he said. "Fingers crossed he would have a great chance."