Dr Richard Newland talks Imperial Cup and Cheltenham

March 9, 2018 News
Dr Richard Newland has established himself a reputation of being a sharp operator since taking out a licence to train, and once again fields a leading fancy in a major handicap.
Successful with Ebony Express in the 2015 Imperial Cup, Newland saddles Le Patriote this year as he chases another big prize to add to the likes of the Coral Cup, Betfair Hurdle and Grand National.
Newland, who also runs a successful private healthcare business, took a few moments out to talk about his Sandown runners and his hopes for next week’s Cheltenham Festival.
Le Patriote is a leading contender for the Imperial Cup on Saturday. How have things been with since his win at Ascot?
He did really well at Ascot and I think the cheek pieces helped him that day. It was very pleasing to bag that win but that makes it tougher now as he’s 8lb higher for this race. The ground should suit him and he seems in really good form. I can’t see any reasons not to have a go with him and why he shouldn’t run a good race.
He holds an entry in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham. Is he likely to head there next week?
He’s a fair way down the handicap for the County Hurdle so he probably wouldn’t get a run there unless he won the Imperial Cup, in which case he would get a run and we’d have a go at the £100,000 bonus. But this race is definitely the plan for him and any run at Cheltenham would be an afterthought for him really.
Sam Twiston-Davies is riding Le Patriote. How important is he to your operation?
Sam’s a big part of our yard. He comes up every week to ride out here, but obviously can’t ride them all during the winter because he has big commitments with Paul Nicholls and his father Nigel. In the summer he rides nearly all of ours and he does so much when he’s here. He’s great at offering advice on them and is a huge help.
You have won the Imperial Cup before with Ebony Express. What does a horse need to win the race?
You need a horse with a few pounds in hand, that’s for sure. You need them to be able to deal with the hurly burly of a handicap and test it provides. I think the ground, the track and the competitiveness of the race will be fine for Le Patriote, it’s just whether he’s got enough in hand. When Ebony Express won he took the traditional route of coming in as a novice and only really Call Me Lord has that profile this time around.
Dashing Perk contests the EBF Final at Sandown. What should we expect from him?
He’s a bit of a mixed bag this horse. He was slightly disappointing last time, albeit Fakenham was never going to suit and we only went there to get him qualified for this race. I’m going to try him in cheek pieces as I have a trainer’s hunch that they might just help him a good bit.
Looking ahead to the Cheltenham Festival, are we likely to see Band Of Blood running?
He’s in the Ultima Handicap Chase on Tuesday and the Kim Muir on Thursday, which is his more likely target. I’m not sure who will ride him at this stage, although if James King was available we’d look to use him if possible.
Vosne Romanee also holds a couple of entries. What is his preferred destination?
He’s in the Close Brothers Novices’ Handicap Chase on Tuesday and also the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase on Friday. The Grand Annual would be the preferred option for him but it’ll be a tight squeeze for him to make it into the race. If he does I’d like to think he’d run a good race.
Next weekend is the Midlands Grand National. How are things with West Of The Edge?
He was a little unlucky in a way in the Eider. He ran a fantastic race and I was thrilled with him, but he was unfortunate to bump into a pretty good horse in Baywing. I think Baywing is one to follow and we’d likely meet him again next week. The time of the Eider was also a good deal quicker than last year so it wasn’t as testing as it can be, so that wasn’t to our advantage either. He’s come out of the race really well and I think he can run another excellent race at Uttoxeter.
And, finally, can you give us a little update on your Grand National winner Pineau De Re?
He’s in great shape. He’s going to go the Grand National meeting all three days where he’ll be ridden at the track. We’ve found him a second career as an event horse and he’s just had a full season as a novice competing. He’s done really well, particularly in the cross-country, and we’re really looking forward to showing him off at Aintree. He’s 16 now and in really good shape and loving life.