Loughanmore winner Definitly Red retained his title in the Many Clouds Chase at Aintree on Saturday, as the nine-year-old won the Grade 2 prize for the second year in succession.
Sent off as the 1/2 favourite for the four-runner three-mile contest which also the return to action of fellow point-to-point graduate, and the 2017 Aintree Grand National hero One For Arthur, it was Brian Ellison’s chestnut who made all as One For Arthur only got as far as fence three before parting company with rider Tom Scudamore.
Definitly Red was briefly challenged by another Irish point-to-point graduate and King George-second, Double Shuffle, early in the home straight, however he began to get the better of the exchanges in between the final two fences, and ultimately returned the four and a-half length winner in the hands of Danny Cook.
Former champion Under-21 point-to-to-point rider Liam Quinlan completed in third aboard Chris Grant’s Acdc.
“Next step will probably be the Gold Cup I think, I just hope we get better ground than we did last year,” said the winning trainer when speaking to Racing UK following the success.
“We will go straight there fresh and just hope for better ground. I know he has won on heavy before but that was just too bad for him at Cheltenham.”
Success in the £60,000 contest is a second Grade 2 of the season for the former Brian Hamilton inmate, who landed his four-year-old maiden at the Antrim course by 20 lengths in October 2013, after his winning return to action in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby.
Having been bought for £110,000 at the Cheltenham November sale, he has more than repaid his owner Phil Martin, closing in on the £400,000 prize money mark, which he will look to add to in the Gold Cup in March, for which he is as low as 20/1 in the ante-post markets.
There was further success for Loughanmore graduates on the day when The Very Man, who had won his four-year-old maiden at the Antrim course in May, made a winning track debut in the concluding bumper at Navan.
Bought by Elliott for £210,000 at the Cheltenham May sale, the Jeremy gelding ran out a comfortable three and three-quarter length winner in the hands of Lisa O’Neill, becoming the second of Stuart Crawford’s Loughanmore four-year-old winners from the spring to make an impressive bumper debut for the Elliott team, following on from Malone Road.
Earlier in the afternoon, there was further success for last season’s four-year-old winners when I Can’t Explain, comfortably got the better of Killeagh winner, Phoenix Way, to run out a five-length victor on his first start for the Nicky Henderson team.
A 12-length winner for Eric McNamara at Rathcannon in the autumn, the now five-year-old was installed as a 25/1 shot for the Grade 1 Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March on the back of this latest success.