'Red' bounces back from Cheltenham fall to claim Ayr spoils
Definitly Red got his career over fences back on track with a tenacious victory in yesterday's big race at Ayr, the Hillhouse Quarry Handicap Chase.
A winner on his chasing debut at Catterick on New Year's Day, Brian Ellison's charge chased home a couple of subsequent Cheltenham Festival heroes on his next couple of starts in Black Hercules at Warwick and Blaklion at Wetherby.
Definitly Red came to grief during his Festival assignment, the National Hunt Chase, but the Grade Two-winning hurdler showed no ill-effects as he knuckled down under Danny Cook.
Tracking early pacesetter Fago for much of the extended two-and-a-half-mile event, the 7/4 favourite jumped to the front at the top of the home straight before holding the persistent challenge of Orbasa at bay by a length.
Ellison said: "I think it rode like a good race. He jumped well and it has been at the back of my mind for a while that he hadn't been staying. I said to Phil (Martin, owner) it is worth going back to two-and-a-half as he ain't slow and he jumps brilliant.
"After Cheltenham we put him in a field for 10 days and we were going to finish him (for the season), but it kept raining and we thought we might as well get him back out. Since he came back he has worked well. He looked a picture beforehand.
"We will see how he comes out of this and what it is left but he will be a good horse for next year."
Welsh Shadow made the most of a significant drop in class to move trainer Dan Skelton a step closer to saddling his first century of winners.
Having finished fifth behind Yorkhill in the Neptune at Cheltenham, the six-year-old faced nothing of that calibre in the West Sound Novices' Hurdle.
In a race which did not begin to unravel until the second last, it was the 4/7 market leader which showed the best turn of foot to get the verdict by just over a length from Jetstream Jack, moving Skelton onto the 98-winner mark in Britain this term.
Meanwhile, Chelmsford City has stepped into the breach and will stage today's card that was originally due to take place at Newbury.
The Berkshire venue is currently waterlogged but the BHA has taken swift steps to save the fixture, which is due to feature key Guineas trials and the valuable Spring Cup.
Race times will stay the same and the four races originally set to be televised by Channel 4 Racing will still get terrestrial coverage.
Paul Johnson, head of racing for the BHA, said: "The rapid deterioration in the weather at Newbury meant that this fixture had to be rescheduled at extremely late notice.
"This created significant challenges but we felt that it was important the Newbury card, which contains some critical Guineas trials, should be rearranged on behalf of the connections of the horses and the betting public."
The move was welcomed by trainer William Haggas who runs Tasleet in the Greenham Stakes. A smart juvenile, he was last seen when beaten a nose in the Somerville Tattersall Stakes by Jim Bolger's Sanus Per Aquam and holds an entry in the Irish Guineas.
"He is a nice horse and has been working well," said Haggas.
"I am pretty sure he will get the trip and think he'll handle the all-weather, I hope so anyway - I'm grateful we're able to run these horses."