Longshot Pineau De Re Wins Grand National
Pineau De Re captured the Crabbie's Grand National Steeplechase by pulling clear to win by five lengths April 5.
Ridden by Leighton Aspell and trained by a doctor who looks after 12 horses as a hobby, the 25-1 shot jumped the last of 30 fences in the lead and drew off to win easily from Balthazar King (14-1) in second and 10-1 joint favorite Double Seven in third.
The famous race has been tainted by a string of deaths over the fearsome fences in recent years but officials said all 40 horses and their jockeys returned safely after the race. Eighteen horses crossed the finish line.
Aspell, who finished second in his debut National in 2003, retired in 2007 but returned to the saddle within two years saying he missed the weighing-room camaraderie and the thrill of racing.
"I thought there was still some unfinished business and some life in the old dog," Aspell said.
The 11-year-old Pineau De Re is the third straight outsider to win the National—which is screened to a worldwide TV audience of about 600 million—after victories by Neptune Collonges (33-1) in 2012 and Auroras Encore (66-1) last year.
Teaforthree, Long Run and Tidal Bay were among the well-backed horses that failed to finish the race, which began on the second try after a false start.
Pineau De Re was never far from the front but moved into serious contention after jumping the Canal Turn, with only six more fences left in the 4 1/2-mile trip. After clearing the last, he had more energy than his rivals and never looked like being beaten. He completed the distance in 9:09.90 on good to soft turf
Bred by in France by Michel Hardy, Pineau De Re is a gelding by Maresca Sorreto—Elfe Du Perche, by Abdonski. Campaigned by Scotland resident John Provan, he is the sixth French-bred winner of the race, joining Neptune Collonges (2012), Mon Mome (2009), Lutteur II (1909), Reugny (1874) and Alcibiade (1865).
Dr. Richard Newland, who studied medicine at Cambridge University, is a medical practitioner in a village called Claines in central England and only took out a license to train horses in 2006. Pineau De Re was his first runner in the National and his timing was perfect as 2014 marks the first year that purse money climbed to £1 million ($1.65 million in United States funds).
"This is a hobby for me really," Newland said, "and I have no real plans to change anything at the minute. I'm lucky enough to be able to do this (train horses) and enjoy it but if you do it as a full-time job, there's a higher level of stress and less fun."
This year's Grand National is the second straight edition without a single horse death. Modifications to the course ahead of the 2013 race, which included softening the high fences and improving landing areas and course irrigation, appear to have improved the situation.
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