In the same week weights for the 2019 Grand National were announced, Selkirk trainer Stuart Coltherd received a timely boost when his Aintree hopeful, Captain Redbeard, stormed home to win yesterday’s (Thursday) Malcolm Jefferson Memorial Chase at Kelso.
Ridden by Stuart’s 20-year-old son Sam, the 10-year-old gelding held off a strong challenge in the home straight by Definitly Red, piloted by Danny Cook, to win by two lengths.
The victory was Captain Redbeard’s first of the season and was jockey Sam Coltherd’s 39th career win.
Captain Redbeard has been listed at number 70 in the ballot for the 2019 Randox Health Grand National, with a handicap weight of 9st 13lbs (the comparative figures for last year’s race were 59 and 10st 7lbs respectively).
Trainer Stuart believes the experience of having competed in last year’s Grand National will benefit both horse and rider at the 2019 event.
“To be fair, I was quite happy with the build-up to last year’s race,” he said. “It was just on the day that things didn’t go to plan.
“One factor that’s different this year is we haven’t had the rainfall we had in 2018, so the ground’s a wee bit quicker.
“I would guess there’ll be a lot of horses in the country who’ll not have had true, soft or heavy ground this year.
“Captain Redbeard has been running pretty well recently and his victory at Kelso showed he’s more than capable of going the distance with horses of a higher rating.
“I would expect him to have one more run-out before Aintree, but obviously a lot will depend on whether conditions are suitable.”
Although ranked 11 places lower in the Grand National ballot than last year, Stuart is optimistic Captain Redbeard will make the final cut for the 40-runner field.
“I thought we might be struggling but, according to the experts, it’s expected that even horses in the high 70s will get in. If that’s the case, then I think we’d be unlucky not to get a run.”
Stuart added the recent interruption to racing because of the equine ‘flu outbreak hadn’t proved too disruptive to the Clarilawmuir yard. “We had all 21 of our horses tested and were given the all-clear, so that’s obviously been a big relief.
“Our horses have been running well, which is good for everyone’s confidence.
“Hopefully, Sam and Captain Redbeard will be fully prepared for the big race at Aintree, so long as the ballot equation works out in our favour.”