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Grand National: 'Definitly' worth a punt... says Northern Ireland trainer of Aintree favourite he nurtured

By Ron McKnight

Brian Hamilton has more reason than most to cheer favourite Definitly Red to glory in tomorrow's Grand National.

The Downpatrick trainer picked out the horse for a Northern Ireland consortium back in 2013, and put it on track for success before its subsequent sale to its current owners in England.

And he can shed light on that strangely spelt name.

"That was a spelling error by one of the lads. Spelling was probably not his best subject at school - he missed including the extra e," Mr Hamilton explained.

Definitly Red cost the local consortium £13,500 at a sale in Kildare in the Republic four years ago. They earned £110,000 in the later sale, after it had won a point to point race at Loughanmore, Templepatrick.

Peter Magill, a member of the Northern Ireland consortium, recalled: "When he went to the sales he had really won two races at Templepatrick. The rider mistook the finish line when winning one race, as it was run on the autumn track. Phil Martin, who bought and still owns the horse, was a proper gentleman and we have kept it touch."

Mr Hamilton, whose training operation is based at the family farm in Ballynoe, Downpatrick, added: "We had reservations initially about buying Definitly Red as Peter Magill and myself were not fans of the sire, Definite Article. However, he was a great model. Not over-big and a lovely, well-balanced horse that walked well - a real athlete.

"The £13,500 was the top end of our budget on the day and it helped he was chestnut, as most buyers prefer a bay horse."

Records detailed the horse had been sold as a foal for £3,200 but went unsold at £4,200 as a yearling, prior to his appearance in the Kildare sale ring that day as a three-year-old.

The Hamilton family have long been involved in breeding and training racehorses, with Brian's father Brian snr and mother Jennifer both having bred and trained winners.

Mr Hamilton was a top amateur jockey and rode at both the Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals for Martin Pipe.

He won the race for amateur riders, which follows the Grand National, for the great trainer. He is well aware of what it takes to succeed on racing's biggest day.

Mr Hamilton was back in the winners enclosure at Aintree in 2014 as a trainer after saddling Warne to win the Foxhunters - the horse having been owned by Peter Magill and then sold to Robert Waley-Cohen, the chairman of Cheltenham Racecourse, for his son Sam, a top jockey, to ride.

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