When Dr Richard Newland’s Pineau De Re stormed home five lengths clear of the admirable Balthazar King in April’s first Crabbies-sponsored Grand National at Aintree it catapulted the trainer very much into the headlines, shining the spotlight on a man who has for some time been noted as very much on the up-and-up by aficionados of the winter game.
Newland ended last campaign with a tremendous 23% winning strike rate and so far this season has sent out 11 winners from 39 runners at an even better winning ratio of 28%. These figures would be the envy of virtually every other National Hunt trainer and there is no doubt that the Worcestershire-based handler is a very talented horseman. It therefore is far from beyond the bounds of possibility that Newland might be able to bring this year’s winner of “the world’s greatest steeplechase” back to Aintree where he has showed such a liking for the track and its still unique fences.
Looking at the current Grand National odds, Pineau De Re [pictured] is currently a 25/1 ante-post joint-favourite alongside the 2014 Irish Grand National winner Shutthefrontdoor, trained by Jonjo O’Neill, and the Martin Brassil-trained Double Seven, third behind Pineau De Re at Aintree and like Shutthefrontdoor owned by leading National Hunt jumps owner and gambler, JP McManus.
McManus has never hidden his fondness for the Grand National and celebrated in style when his Don’t Push Me landed a massive gamble under Tony McCoy on the big day back in 2010. Shutthefrontdoor will be an eight-year-old for next year’s big race, the perfect age for a horse with a tremendously progressive profile as a staying chaser.Double Seven, sent off the 10/1 joint-favourite for the 2014 Grand National under Tony McCoy, has now shown that he can handle the hurly-burly of the great race and as a nine-year-old will also fall into the ideal age category for a race that could very well be within his capabilities.