Grand National: Is Pineau just what the doctor ordered?
Pineau De Re has form to his name which makes him look a live outsider at 33/1 with Coral for the Crabbie’s Grand National now that he has been nursed back to his best by trainer Dr Richard Newland.
The 11-year-old has won six races under rules, five of those coming in Ireland when trained by Philip Fenton.
The most significant of those was the 3m 4f Ulster Grand National at Downpatrick last year, where was given a confident ride by Danny Mullins before being produced between to the last two fences to draw clear and win by 23 lengths.
The gelding then joined Dr Newland, and was sent off the heavily backed 11/2 favourite for the John Smith’s Summer Cup at Uttoxeter where he finished a creditable sixth of 18 to Storm Survivor.
Since then he has been campaigned over hurdles and fences, and looks to have been brought right back to his best judged on his last two runs.
In the first of those he cruised home hard held to win a handicap chase over 3m at Exeter off a mark of 133, and he then ran a stormer in the Pertemps Final over hurdles at the Cheltenham Festival when a strong finishing third to Fingal Bay.
A bad mistake at the last may well have cost him dear that day, as he was gaining hand over fist up the run-in and beaten just 3/4 of a length in a driving finish.
Those runs suggest that he is in the form of his life, and although he now has to run off a career-high mark of 143 in the National he gets into the contest on a handy looking weight of 10st 6lb.
Another plus is that he has won on all types of going, and he has also had a taste of the Aintree fences earlier in the season in the Becher Chase.
Although he fell that day, he was making stealthy progress and far from done with at the time and the race has proved a good guide for the National.
He is also bidding to become the third 11-year-old in succession to win the race, and that age group have triumphed in eight of the last 30 runnings.