Pineau De Re wins National on doctor's orders

LIVERPOOL, England (Reuters) - Doctor Richard Newland, who trains a small string of horses as a "hobby" while keeping an eye on his healthcare businesses, won the Grand National at the first attempt with 25-1 outsider Pineau De Re on Saturday.

Leighton Aspell, a 37-year-old journeyman jockey who quit the saddle for almost two years before returning with "unfinished business" steered Pineau De Re to a five-length victory in the Aintree showpiece.

Balthazar King (14-1) was second under Richard Johnson with Double Seven, the 10-1 joint favourite ridden by champion jockey Tony McCoy, in third.

For the second year in a row all the horses returned safely from the marathon race but the 39 jockeys who started later refused to attend a stewards' inquiry into a false start. The matter has been referred to the British Horseracing Authority.

The triumphant Newland trains 12 horses in Worcestershire, central England having stopped surgery practice this year.

Pineau De Re was the 50-year-old's first National runner, although he has been coming to Aintree "long before I trained or even owned horses".

"This is a hobby for me really and I have no real plans to change anything," he said.

"It's great fun but it's not my primary source of income. I'm lucky enough to be able to do this (training) and enjoy it but if you do it as a full-time job there's a higher level of stress and less fun.

"I feed the horses in the morning, harrow the gallop and leave instructions for the day."

Newland studied medicine at Cambridge University and has only stopped doing surgeries in the past year.

Pineau De Re's name refers to an aperitif wine produced in the Charente department in western France and Newland said he knew he had a "classy, classy horse".

"He has the combination of stamina and a touch of speed and it was just a wonderful performance even though he made a few errors."


Aspell finished second with his first National ride in 2003 and savoured "a dream come true".

"I remember watching the National as a very young boy and, as much as you enjoy sharing in everybody's success, you seek and crave a bit too. It's great to get a chance.

"I knew we were in with a chance jumping Valentine's second time around. You're never certain of winning, even when you reach the Elbow, but I knew we'd have to tie up badly to be caught at that point."

Aspell said he had retired in 2007 because he had lost the enjoyment and thrill of riding but returned in 2009 when he realised there was still "life in the old dog".

He is enjoying his best season to date with Pineau De Re providing his 61st winner of the campaign.

His victory is also likely to be toasted long and hard by his fans in cyberspace.

Aspell is one of the few jockeys to have his own fan club with dedicated website, established in 2001, set up "to support Leighton because he did not have the best horses to ride or the big stables to ride for".

Of the 40 starters, 18 finished the near 4-1/2 mile slog which offered a total prize fund of one million pounds ($1.66 million) for the first time.

There was little joy for 10-1 joint favourite Teaforthree who unseated jockey Nick Scholfield at the 15th fence, while Long Run, the 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, fell earlier.

(Editing by Ed Osmond)

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