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The career of Dr Richard Newland has taken him from general practice to being a professional racehorse trainer, a career that might well be about to hit a new peak should the good doctor‘s Pineau de Re live up to expectations and run a mighty race in Saturday’s £1 million Crabbie’s Grand National at Aintree, writes Elliot Slater.
Pineau de Re is an experience horse who until July last year was trained in Ireland by Philip Fenton, for whom he showed smart form as a young horse, finishing runner-up in both Grade 1 and Grade 2 hurdles company before switching to the larger obstacles.
It’s fair to say that the gelding probably hasn’t quite lived up to expectations so far over fences, but he did win last season’s Grand National at Downpatrick, proving his stamina and ability to handle himself in the hustle and bustle of a big-field handicap chase.
Since joining Dr. Newland the son of Maresca Sorrento has run a number of decent races and finally managed to get his head in front when winning a veterans handicap chase at Exeter in January. He did rather better however last time out at the Cheltenham Festival when, switched back to hurdles, he failed by just a nose and a neck to land the Grade 3 Pertemps Network Final over three miles, finishing like a train in the race won by the gallant top weight Fingal Bay.
That effort showed that Pineau de Re is potentially in the form of his life so hopes are high that he will run a big race at Aintree. The current 20/1 chance has had one previous taste of the National fences but got no further than the eighth in the Becher Chase, something he will be hoping to improve on in Saturday’s big race.
The Ulster Grand National is run at the Downpatrick racecourse in Northern Ireland which has staged racing there for the past 200 years.
It is a right handed course with a fairly tight track of roughly 1 mile 3 furlongs in circumference. The Grand National race at the course is run over 3m 4f and in 2016 the winner was Federici, trained by E. Bolga and ridden by A Heskin.
A year later he managed to finish 4th in the Aintree Grand National, cementing his reputation as a true staying chaser.