DR RICHARD NEWLAND will have to sit and wait on whether 2014 Grand National victor Pineau De Re and Royale Knight (sixth to Many Clouds 12 months ago) make the cut in this year's spectacle but Ayr is also just around the corner and his two staying chaser can be re-routed North of the Border should the Aintree trip having to be aborted.
The Claines trainer has already notched up 24 winners and over £256,000 in prize money and, although he has had relatively few runners in the past fortnight, three of his four runners (Duke Street, Sioux Chieftain and Top Cat Henry) have won with the only other one (Discay) finishing second.
It is the sort of form you would like to see a trainer in with a busy Summer schedule ahead and Richard kindly spoke to Tony Elves of ATR about some very interesting prospect amongst his team that will be in action in the coming weeks.
BAND OF BLOOD
8 b g King's Theatre - Cherry Falls
Winner of five of his 23 starts. Best effort this season when third, beaten 11 lengths, to The Last Samuri in the Grimthorpe Chase at Doncaster (3m 2f) in March off a mark of 132. Currently rated 129 over fences.
"He is a horse that had serious wind problems in Ireland and we knew that when we bought him. He had a trapped epiglottis and he has run satisfactorily without quite yet hitting top form. Hopefully, he is feasibly handicapped compared to his fourth in the Irish National last year but he needs to find his top form. He is showing some signs at home and, hopefully, he will. We are planning to run him at Aintree on Saturday in the 3m 1f Handicap Chase or the Scottish Grand National or the Bet365."
9 b g Pierre - Babs Girld
Winner of one of his 14 starts. Having his first run for current stable when well beaten at Fontwell (2m 3f) on heavy ground in February off a mark of 107. Currently rated 106 over hurdles.
"He disappointed on his last run and almost certainly bled. He has had a break and he will be coming back in training very shortly. We will get him back in action in Summer and Autumn and better ground and two and a half miles should suit. We will train him slightly differently and see if we can turn him around."
CUT THE CORNER
8 br g Vinnie Roe - Snipe Victory
Winner of three of his 21 starts. Gained last success in a handicap chase at Southwell (2m 4 1/2f) in September when beating Ballybogey 22 lengths off a mark of 120. Currently rated 129 over fences.
"He had a good season last year and he's back in training now. I hoping to get him into a novice handicap or a novice chase at the end of the month. We will campaign him in the Summer and I hope he can build on last season."
7 b g Distant Music - Caysue
Winner of seven of his 30 starts. Best effort this season on his latest start in a novices' handicap chase at Ludlow (2m) in March when runner-up, beaten nine lengths, to Ashcott Boy off a mark of 115. Currently rated 112 over fences and hurdles.
"He has been a bit disappointing this season but I think he is just one of those that hasn't had his ground. We found better ground for him at Ludlow recently and he ran a much better race to finish runner-up. He probably needs a bit further and I would be hopefully we will pick up a handicap chase or two before the end of the season."
4 b g Duke Of Marmalade - Act Of The Pace
Winner of seven of his 21 starts. Unplaced in only one of his six races over hurdles when ninth in the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham (2m 1/2f) and bounced back to winning form at Newbury (2m 3f) on Saturday when scoring by eight lengths from Cobra De Mai off his current mark of 125.
"He's a very nice horse and won well in the Juvenile Handicap at Newbury on Saturday. He has previously run well in the Fred Winter where too much use was made of him and he's certainly a horse with a future. He's a half brother to Act of Kalanisi that we used to train and he had a very busy campaign on the Flat last year. We will run him at Sandown on Bet365 day and then I think that will be it and he'll have a holiday and next year he will step up in trip."
EXPRESS DU BERLAIS
7 b g Saint Des Saints - Euil Eagle
Winner of three of his 18 starts. Successful on his reappearance in a handicap chase at Fontwell (2m 5f) in May when beating Friendly Society six lengths off a mark of 114. Currently rated 115 over fences.
"Again, he's another who will do better on better ground. He will have an entry for a selling hurdle at Ffos Las and I am dropping him in class to try and get his confidence back and he is capable of winning off his mark."
GIOIA DI VITA
6 b g Sakhee - Dhuyoof
Winner of five of his 35 starts. Gained his third success over hurdles this season when accounting for Antony by three and a half lengths at Fontwell (2m 1 1/2f) in September. Currently rated 130 over hurdles.
"He is a lovely horse who won three novice hurdles last year. He has come back really well and he will probably have a first run at the Cheltenham April meeting. We are hoping to have a good Summer campaign with him and he will be going novice chasing before too long."
7 ch g Medicean - Red Slippers
Winner of five of his 45 starts. Winner of the Listed Summer Hurdle at Market Rasen (2m 1/2f) in July when beating Hammersly Lake a neck off a mark of 127. Currently rated 131 over hurdles.
"Has just had another little wind operation and has always had wind issues. He has recovered fine from that but it's just held us back a couple of weeks. He would be coming back in the Summer and will be mixing hurdling with novice chasing at some point."
7 b g Montjeu - Canterbury Lace
Winner of four of his 23 starts. No wins for four runs over hurdles. Currently rated 119 over hurdles.
"He is a nice new recruit - he is potentially interesting as he was highly rated on the Flat and never won over hurdles. He is perhaps a little bit quirky but it is a talented quirk and I hope he could be well handicapped. I would like to think he can win his maiden hurdle and a novice hurdle and he would be one we would be thinking of for something like the Summer hurdle. He needs to prove he can do it over hurdles as he came from a good yard (Nicky Henderson) and has never yet done it over hurdles."
8 b g Darsi - Sherberry
Winner of three of his 18 starts. Scored by a head from Urcalin in a handicap hurdle at Aintree (3m 1/2f) in May. Currently rated 127 over hurdles.
"He has had a few issues and when he won at Aintree last year he struck into himself. He surprised me with his win but he really had a nasty laceration right down to his tendon and has also had a pelvic stress fracture when he was on his way back. He is still in the field at the moment but he will be back late Summer/early Autumn with a view to novice chasing."
3 b g Tamayuz - Cannikin
Placed in four of his seven starts on the Flat for Martyn Meade.
"He will go Summer jumping and has been gelded since he joined us. We look forward to running him in early season juvenile hurdles."
NO WIN NO FEE
6 b g Firereak - Milliscent
Winner of four of his 26 starts. Runner-up, beaten 22 lengths, to Penglai Pavilion on his hurdling debut at Stratford (2m) in July.
"He had time off with a stress fracture of his pelvis and he has completely recovered. He is back in full training now and would be going novice hurdling and is probably five weeks off a run."
ONE MORE GO
5 b g Papal Bull - Enchanted Wood
Winner of four of his 16 starts Favourite when only sixth of 14 to All Set To Go on his hurdling bow at Southwell (1m 7 1/2f) in December.
"He is a very good prospect we acquired at Newmarket Sales. He schooled really well and was disappointing on his debut when he was sent off favourite but came back coughing. I was in the mind to give this horse a break anyway as he had been on the go for 12 months. He is now back in work and will be out in about six weeks time. He's a good prospect for novice hurdling."
PINEAU DE RE
13 b g Maresca Sorrento - Elle Du Perche
Winner of eight of his 46 races. Winner of the 2014 Grand National and 12th to Many Clouds in the race last year. Successful in a handicap hurdle at Carlisle (3m 1f) in December off a mark of 136. Currently rated 137 over fences and 140 over hurdles.
"He is due to run in the Grand National if he gets in but he's not certain of a run. He will run in the Scottish National if he doesn't get in and I know he's 13-year-old but he will run well if he gets in the Grand National granted luck in running."
10 b g King's Theatre - Gardana
Winner of nine of his 39 starts. Winner of the Durham National at Sedgefield (3m 5f) in October when beating Lackamon two and three quarter lengths off a mark of 136. Currently rated 142 over fences.
"He's in great form and also been trained for the National and the Scottish National. He has been doing a lot of work and is ready to go but it looks unlikely he will get in at Aintree. It's a shame he finished 6th in the race last year but he could be a good type for the Scottish National."
6 b g Mount Nelson - Lady Gin
Winner of three of his 21 starts. Made a successful debut in a conditional jockeys novices hurdle at Wetherby (2m) last week when beating Bonne Question a length.
"We were thrilled with his win at Wetherby last week and he's a nice novice hurdle prospect. He jumped very well and had schooled very well. His start over hurdles was delayed by a silly injury when he just got kicked by another horse in a field and it took awhile to get over it but he showed at Wetherby what I always thought he would. He will get no penalty in future novice hurdled and will go Summer hurdling."
9 b g Tikkanen - Ally Rose
Winner of four of his 16 starts in Ireland.
"He came to us from Sandra Hughes and the horse has been bought by his owner Brian Dunn to try and give Brian Toomey a winner. Brian has been trying very hard to get back and deserves it."
7 b g Tiger Hill - Zayana
Winner of one of his 16 starts. Successful in a maiden hurdle at Thurles when trained by Sandra Hughes.
"He is a nice prospect and I bought him on spec in the Summer. If anyone wants a horse in the yard he is for Sale. He's a real nice Summer chasing prospect."
TOP CAT HENRY
8 b g Dr Massini - Bells Chance
Winner of three of his 23 starts. Returned to winning form in a handicap chase at Wetherby (2m 5 1/2f) last month when beating Gold Ingot eight lengths off a mark of 120. Currently rated 127 over fences.
"He has been entered in the Topham but he might struggle to get in the race. If he doesn't go there he will go to Ayr on the Friday for a valuable handicap chase and will also have an entry in the Silver Trophy at Cheltenham. He came right back to form at Wetherby."
5 b g Mount Nelson - Helter Helter
Winner of two of his 16 starts on the Flat for Mark Johnston. Winner at Hamilton (1m 5f) in September and Musselburgh (2m) in October.
"He is a very nice prospect for novice hurdling. He threw a splint and has been out of action but he is back in pre-training now and will be out from July onwards."
9 b g Flemensfirth - Sulawesi
Winner of three of his 11 starts. Last victory in a handicap chase at Bangor (3m) in May when beating Mission Complete a length off a mark of 104. Currently rated 110 over fences.
"When we got him last year he was over the top having had a busy time. He needed a break and is in good condition and I hope we can get back on track with him as he is capable of winning races. He will be mixing and matching between handicap chasing and hurdling."
5 ch g Arakan - Vento Dei Oreno
Winner of five of his 25 starts. Runner-up, beaten seven lengths to Bigindie in a handicap hurdle at Southwell (1m 7 1/2f) in June off a mark of 118. Currently rated 119.
"He is a horse that came back from a stress fracture last Summer but he's over it now and training well and is due to go to Ludlow on Tuesday. He will go hurdling to start with but will go novice chasing this Summer."
7 b g Vinnie Roe - Rongai
Winner of one of his six starts. Placed in novice events at Southwell (2m 4 1/2f) in Fakenham (2m 4f) in December in two runs for connections.
"He is nice prospect and could be out at Market Rasen on Sunday. We gave him a break as he wants better ground and has had a couple of niggly injuries on the way but is fine now. We just want a clear run with him but he's capable of winning races."
DISCAY - fancied to come good on the better ground this Spring.
DUKE STREET - impressive winner at Newbury on Saturday and looks the sort to continue to thrive in the hurdling division.
GIOIA DI VITA - looks the sort to rack up the wins in Summer novice chases.
HASSLE - always had ample ability and that could be harnessed to effect operating from a smaller yard.
ONE MORE GO - was coughing when a beaten favourite on his hurdling debut but has been given a good break and can fare much better on his return.
SIOUX CHIEFTAIN - unpenalised for a conditional jockeys success at Wetherby last week and has more win in him.