In the case of Dr. Richard Newland, “Doctor” isn’t an honorary title. Dr. Newland studied medicine at Cambridge University and, until 2013, was a full-time General Practitioner, working for the National Health Service in Sutton Coldfield. He remains the chief executive of a private healthcare company in the town but, for over a decade now, has been leading a double life befitting a comic book superhero.
Racing, Dr. Newland says, “is just for fun” and, despite spectacular success over the years, has vehemently resisted becoming a full-time trainer to avoid too much stress. Dr. Newland became a permit holder in 2006 and took out a full training licence in 2007. In his first season, he saddled Overstrand to win the William Hill Handicap Hurdle at Sandown and the Betfair Handicap Hurdle at Ascot, collectively worth nearly £79,000, as well as his first winner at the Cheltenham Festival, Burntoakboy, in the Coral Cup in 2007. Dr. Newland later recalled, “Overstrand and Burntoakboy’s successes did come as a shock but made me realise I must have been doing something right.” Interestingly, Dr. Newland is an exponent of what he calls “free range” training or, in other words, allowing his horses to walk around the fields for at least eight hours a day.
Dr. Newland is based at Linacres Farm, Claines, near Worcester and has just 12 horses in training at any one time. He has a theory that once a horse has performed well, it has proved that it is, genetically, capable of doing so and should, under the right circumstances, be capable of doing so again. The theory has served him well, because he has built a reputation for finding cheaper, out of form horses and bringing them back to form.
Perhaps none more so than Pineau De Re, who he acquired from Philip Fenton as a 10-year-old in June, 2013 and saddled to win the Grand National less than a year later. Pineau De Re had fallen on his previous attempt over the National Fences in the Becher Chase the preceding December but, on his two starts immediately before Aintree, hacked up in a veterans’ chase at Exeter and finished strongly to be third, beaten a nose and a neck, in the Pertemps Network Final at the Cheltenham Festival.
Dr. Newland admitted to being “quite excited” about his first National runner and he wasn’t to be disappointed; ridden by Leighton Aspell, Pineau De Re led at the second last fence and drew clear on the run-in to beat Balthazar King by 5 lengths at odds of 25/1.