Grand National News
Fences can wait until 2015 Crabbie's Grand National with Pineau De Re
Dr Richard Newland, trainer of last season's Crabbie's Grand National winner Pineau De Re, hosted a media visit at his 12-box stables at Claines, Worcestershire, organised by Aintree Racecourse. He revealed that Pineau De Re, who had his first outing of this season over hurdles at Cheltenham last month, will not run over fences until the 2015 Crabbie's Grand National on April 11 next year.
The trainer explained his training methods: "Our horses are turned out six to eight hours a day and don't need a lot of saddle time.
"They have 15 to 20 minutes on the gallops six days a week and we like to keep them moving so it is aerobic. Our style is short and sharp, up down, up down and up down - three miles a day and 18 miles during a week, which seems to get them fit.
"When they are close to a run, we give them two pieces of quick work, working upsides at pace on a Wednesday and Saturday. But we don't always do that, such as with Pineau because I am being a bit cautious because of his legs. He had a very bad tendon injury as a young horse and he missed two years. If you felt his legs, you would think they were a bit suspect but they have held up very well. When you are doing that quick work, you are putting them a bit more under pressure. If we can get him straight without the quick work, I would prefer to do that."
The woodchip gallop, nearly five furlongs long, is uphill and curves right-handed. It is opposite the small yard in countryside just to the north of Worcester.
Newland continued: "The only time we don't turn them out is if there is driving rain. They will be in light rugs from September or October and are always well rugged up. Sometimes we train horses from the fields, 23 hours a day, and in my experience it never does them any harm. Plenty of them improve dramatically for it.
"Horses like to eat grass, like cows. My method of training is very much self-developed - you have to train with the facilities you have got and a lot of it is instinctive.
"We have a routine which seems to work for us, though I am always open to new ideas. I buy horses from the form book, horses with a proven engine who might have lost their way. I am looking for value.
"I explain to owners that I usually cannot get to the races during the week so people have to accept that. I am very busy work-wise at the moment - we are expanding fast (CHS Healthcare).
"I have plenty of demands on my time but I love it and when I am not working I am out here every Saturday watching the horses - I am involved. It is jump racing rather than the Flat that really turns me on."
Newland got hooked on racing as a student.
"It is a fantastic sport and a complete dream for me to be a participant in it now."
Pineau De Re paraded and then went on the gallop for his usual daily spin.
Newland explained: "His next start is likely to be in the Pertemps qualifier at Carlisle on Sunday, December 14, in which he finished second last year. He needs to get qualified for the final at Cheltenham and has to finish in the first eight but hopefully he will be able to do that.
"We will know a bit more when he runs at Carlisle. In hindsight, he got very tired at Cheltenham and I was very glad that Daryl (Jacob) did not knock him about - we try and win every race we can. I was a bit surprised to be called before the stewards. They were doing their job and it was certainly not a question of the horse not trying - we were trying. He had 11st 12lb in very testing ground and in hindsight the run probably came a couple of weeks too soon. Hopefully, he will put up a better show next time.
"We have no idea who will be riding him in the 2015 Crabbie's Grand National - Leighton (Aspell) came in as a spare last year and did a fantastic job. We are a small yard and the top jockeys tend to have a lot of strong allegiances. I don't know if Leighton will be available but we will definitely consider him. Let's get nearer the time and see who is available. We have links with lots of jockey but no number one. Daryl is riding a lot for Colin Tizzard at the moment - it is out of my hands to a certain extent at the moment. I am trying not to worry too much about it as there are lots of jockeys who have ridden for us who would be ideal on the horse - he is not a difficult ride.
"Pineau is a genuine candidate for next year's Grand National but these days there are 40 horses in the handicap which means a very competitive race so it is not going to be easy. However, I am an eternal optimist and I am optimistic about him as I do think he is a very classy horse. It was a good win last season and I think the form is solid.
"Because Pineau missed two years because of an injury, he has only run 36 times and is pretty lightly-raced for a horse of his age. He is 11 but acts like he is three and has plenty of enthusiasm still.
"I hope we can win a little hurdle race with him before going back to Aintree. We hope to have two Grand National runners next year with Royale Knight, who is having a bit of a break now as he is better fresh.
"We have had 26 winners so far this season and my personal target has always been 20 so we are ahead - we had a cracking summer. Our approach is squad rotation.
"We gave Pineau De Re seven weeks off last year and he really turned a corner - an older horse like him does not need 17 weeks off. A short break freshens them up. Royale Knight is having that break in a field here. It has worked twice before with him."
The 2015 Crabbie's Grand National Festival takes place at Aintree from Thursday to Saturday, April 9-11. The Crabbie's Grand National is again worth £1 million.