Monday 30 July 2018

Dr Newland Wins the 2014 Grand National with Pineau de Re

The 167th Grand National took place on 5 April 2014, at the age-old Aintree Racecourse - situated close to Liverpool. 

Running under Crabbie’s sponsorship for the very first time, everyone looked utterly surprised as Leighton Aspell spectacularly won riding Pineau de Re – a mere 25/1 shot! The magnificent performance also earned John Provan (owner) and trainer Richard Newland recognition across the horse-riding world. In a similar vein, the originally undervalued winner became the 6th French-bred participator to stamp such an impressively stunning Grand National record. 

Besides having had an illustrious career in the local healthcare sector, very few had apparently considered Dr Richard Newland would attain an equally enviable name and money in this new undertaking. No one had expected such a small stable to outsmart otherwise well-known trainers of countless well bred horses prior to the National showdown. At least not for a rather unseasoned trainer largely engaged in a somewhat altruistic mission - reviving the dwindling fortunes of unpopular breeds that for many had lost favour. 

Pineau de Re had been purchased about a year before from Barry Connell – Ireland’s famously wealthy hedge fund manager. It seemed unbelievable to see such a buy wow the Aintree crowd – handing Dr Newland a 2014 Grand National victory. Moreover, his previous owner was left bitterly ruing his idea to get rid of this gifted champion. Describing the purchase as a rather “good guy”, Newland courteously remarked that Connell must have written off the winner as a lesser light, maybe due to his many past injuries. Unwilling to add to Connell’s regrets concerning the imprudent sale, Newland refused to detail the exact amount which exchanged hands. His few words might also have been a gentlemanly effort to safeguard the friendly duo’s confidential ties; mostly noting the fact that the title-clinching trainer had previously received a free horse from the same Irish man on the condition that he would pay £10,000 in case the horse happened to excel. 

He actually managed to secure three high-profile wins shortly after this intriguing deal! Unlike the cashless exchange, it seems quite clear Pineau De Re cost Newland a substantial amount of money. This is mainly derivable from Newland’s telltale tip-offs revealing how he’d tried to talk to John Provan about the general wisdom of obtaining the new Aintree champ. It emerged that the familiar pair been good buddies previously – since the two have merged mutually advantageously in a couple of past Grand Nationals, at least for more than 20 years. 

The blossoming relationship may have begun long before the Dr started his training career. Once a mere lover of the equestrian sport, the good doctor would later buy a piece of land and obtain a training permit in 2006. Even so, he certainly hadn’t envisioned much success in this secondary undertaking as he’s in the past admitted that it was primarily nothing more than a sheer pastime. 

This Grand National victory helped boost the success of the yard, currently located a few miles from Claines. Responding to torrents of media questions, the smiling horse trainer clarified that he’s unlikely to alter his way of doing things at the small establishment. Citing his sport as a hobby and not as his mainstream income, the excited physician however hinted at the slight possibility of increasing his string. 

Separately, the interesting revelation that Philip Fenton had handled the same horse shortly before also raises further questions about him. With the said enigmatic Irishman presently facing a raft of prosecutorial sanctions for previous involvement in anabolic steroids and other banned substances, it’s likely the latest Grand National victor’s past had somehow dimmed beyond all hopes of possible recovery. 

The 1st-place prize money of £561,300 was sealed by a conspicuous 5 lengths, Richard Johnson emerged second – riding Balthazar King – thus taking home a tidy - £211,100. The third position was claimed by the well-known A.P. McCoy, mounting the tenaciously unyielding Double Seven. Alvarado’s persistent chase – ably piloted by Paul Moloney’s seasoned ride - grabbed a glittering £52,700, vigorously trailed by the commendably hard-trying Rocky Creek/Noel Fehily pair.

Related stories: Grand National 1992: Party Politics

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