Drama-filled Char­lie Hall at Wetherby

Western Morning News - - Horses -

Definitly Red dug deep to claim top hon­ours in the bet365 Char­lie Hall Chase at Wetherby last week­end.

With the high-pro­file pair of Bris­tol De Mai and Thistle­crack not de­clared on ac­count of the ground and Re­gal En­core de­clared a non-run­ner on Satur­day morn­ing, a field of just four run­ners went to post for the West York­shire track’s fea­ture event of the sea­son.

That num­ber was re­duced by one af­ter Dou­ble Shuf­fle suf­fered a crash­ing fall at the very first fence. That was not the end of the drama though, as just two fences later Devon-born jockey Bry­ony Frost per­formed mir­a­cles to stay on board 5-4 favourite Black Cor­ton af­ter he ploughed through the first open ditch.

Black Cor­ton re­gained his mo­men­tum to main­tain the lead be­fore the Brian El­li­son-trained 3-1 shot Definitly Red, win­ner of last sea­son’s Cotswold Chase at Chel­tenham be­fore fin­ish­ing sixth in the Gold Cup and un­seat­ing Cook at Ain­tree, took over with over a cir­cuit to run.

With Vir­gilio drop­ping away slightly, it turned into a straight shootout in the home straight and Black Cor­ton could never quite get on terms, with Definitly Red pass­ing the post two lengths to the good.

El­li­son is cur­rently in Amer­ica for the Breed­ers’ Cup meet­ing, but Cook said: “He likes good ground and he re­ally en­joyed him­self to­day.

“He’s per­fect for me be­cause he races be­hind the bri­dle a lit­tle, but he keeps find­ing for pres­sure.

“He’s done won­ders for me and I love rid­ing him. I think he en­joyed the slight step down in class to­day.”

Owner Phil Martin pointed to Ain­tree as a likely next port of call for Definitly Red, but ex­pressed some doubt about try­ing to de­fend his Cotswold Chase ti­tle if the team de­cide to take the Gold Cup route again.

He said: “I think when he won the Cotswold Chase last sea­son that left a mark on him in the Gold Cup, so if we’re think­ing that way this year he wouldn’t run in it, that’s if we’re be­ing se­ri­ous.

“The next ob­vi­ous race for him is the Many Clouds Case at Ain­tree he won last year. It’s a small field and he likes to boss them, he’s much bet­ter in smaller fields. He’s a fan­tas­tic jumper and him and Danny are a match made in heaven.

“This is a race I’ve al­ways wanted to win. Brian wasn’t keen, but I twisted his arm. He’s just shy of top class, but he’s a proper Grade Two horse.”

Frost was re­lieved to have main­tained her part­ner­ship with Black Cor­ton and far from dis­heart­ened.

She said: “Let me just pick my heart up off the floor. It was a silly mis­take, I shouldn’t have been up there, but he stuck his neck out and made sure I didn’t fall off.

“He’s run great, he’s fresh and happy, we’re all in one piece and live to fight an­other day.”

Paul Ni­cholls was sat­is­fied with Black Cor­ton’s per­for­mance and could now look to­wards the Lad­brokes Tro­phy at New­bury on De­cem­ber 1. He said: “The win­ner is rated 164 and we are rated 153, so he has run a re­ally good, solid race.

“I sup­pose he got a bit out of rhythm but it was a good sit by Bry­ony. It was a step up in class to last year and he ran well.

“Black Cor­ton won’t find it as easy as last year as it is a dif­fer­ent ball game – he was able to boss around horses he was bet­ter than. I sup­pose we will look at some­thing like the Lad­brokes Tro­phy with him.”

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