TOP trainer Dr Richard Newland is dreaming of a winning debut at this weekend’s world-famous Grand National.
Cheltenham Festival star Pineau De Re will be the Claines handler’s first ever runner at the Aintree showpiece and connections hope he can build on his Prestbury Park heroics.
The 11-year-old claimed a superb third in the Pertemps Final at last month’s Festival and is one of the leading contenders for Saturday’s feature race at a best price of 20-1.
Newland is hoping his stable star can stay the marathon trip that makes up the world’s greatest steeplechase, which is at 4.15pm on Saturday.
Don’t Push It used the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham as a stepping stone to glory at the renowned Merseyside track in 2010, but Newland is guarded about Pineau De Re’s chances under jockey Leighton Aspell.
Newland said: “We have runners every day and they are all big races at this Aintree meeting, so it is just as exciting as when we go to the Cheltenham Festival. We go to Aintree every year and it is great fun – hopefully we can trouble the scorers this year.
“However, we have never had a runner in the Grand National before. It is very exciting and Pineau De Re is about the fifth favourite in the betting so he must have a chance.
“However, there will be 39 other runners going for it and some pretty big fences to clear so my confidence has diminished as the week has gone on.
“Pineau ran so well at Cheltenham that we were elated to get a place in the Pertemps Final at the time.
“However, everyone keeps saying how unlucky he was to get hampered near the end of the race and he should have won so I see that race as a bit of a miss for us.”
The Linacres Farm stable have interest on each day with Changing The Guard running in today’s Silver Cross Red Rum Handicap Chase at 4.15pm.
Then Mart Lane goes in tomorrow’s Topham Chase at 3.40pm.
Newland added: “Changing The Guard runs for us in the two-mile chase today and Mart Lane goes in the Topham Chase tomorrow, but both of those will be outsiders – maybe Changing The Guard has a little bit of a chance.
“Mart Lane has had a couple of poor runs so he will have to turn things around, but he is a good horse.
“Wayne Hutchinson will be on Mart Lane, while Denis O’Regan is booked to ride Changing The Guard.”