That moment - a touch before 4.30 on 5 April 2014 – will, surely, forever be seared into his memory. But if Dr Richard Newland ever needs to reassure himself that his 25-1 shot Pineau De Re’s mastery of Aintree’s Grand National fences, and the celebrations that ensued as he was hoisted aloft by his nephew Rupert and his companions was indeed reality and not fantasy, he only has to glance at a wall of his home at his Worcestershire stables.
It’s there in all its glory. Not a Bansky, maybe. But a unique piece of wall-art.
He recalls: “The day after the National, I went into a service station and bought all the newspapers with all the photos and reports. My wife (Laura) very cleverly turned all the cuttings into wallpaper.
Newland, 57 this month, and the father of three daughters, is rightly unashamedly proud of his feat and adds: “I’ll be quite honest with you, I do enjoy looking at it sometimes. It was a magical time, an amazing day.”
Yet, the stories within those newspaper cuttings suggested that a character who had run GP surgeries until the previous year, and was chief executive of CHS Healthcare, a business which helps the NHS discharge patients, was content for training to remain a hobby. At the time, he stabled 12 horses; his patrons primarily family and friends.
Yet, even as he protested that he trained horses “just for the fun of it”, and “I have no real plans to change because if I had more than 12 horses I wouldn’t really be able to cope” many will have harboured their doubts – scepticism that was more than justified by what confronts you today.
Today, Newland is master of two yards, the old and the new (completed early last year). “And every box is full,” he says. “We have 63 in training and obviously a few out of training, having breaks, whatever – that’s 80odd horses.
He explains the transformation in approaches since 2014, saying that he has more time to commit to racing following a switch from chief executive of CHS, his principal business, to chairman, meaning that he is no longer involved day-to-day.
His operation boasted 60 winners last year – his best since taking out a licence in 2006 – and at the time of writing, had sent out 22 winners from 116 runners this season.
Such impressive numbers have meant Newland has been up there, jostling shoulder to shoulder, with such prolific scorers as Dan Skelton, Fergal O’Brien and Olly Murphy, behind leader Paul Nicholls in this season’s jump trainers championship table (based on prizemoney won).
He has achieved this by astute handling of his charges and being rewarded for a purchasing philosophy of: buy low, aim high. He searches diligently, often in France and Ireland, for horses, particularly on the Flat, whose form has declined, but have displayed sufficient talent at one stage to suggest they will prosper from a change of environment, and a new challenge over obstacles.
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