Newland back in hunt for big-race success at Aintree

Dr Richard Newland is seeking more Aintree glory on Saturday when he saddles Beau Bay and Caid Du Lin in the William Hill Grand Sefton Handicap Chase.

The Claines trainer – who saddled Pineau De Re to win the Grand National in 2014 – is giving Beau Bay a second try at the famous fences after finishing third in this race 12 months ago and he is keen to see if Caid Du Lin takes to them.

“Beau Bay is in good form. This has been his winter target. It doesn’t get any easier for him because he’s in a high grade,” said Newland.

Caid Du Lin (left) in action at Sandown
Caid Du Lin (left) in action at Sandown (Julian Herbert/PA)

“He ran a blinder in it last year. Charlie (Hammond) gets on well with him and it would be great to see him have another spin round Aintree.

“Whether he’s good enough that remains to be seen. It will be a good run if he gets round.”

Newland is hoping Caid Du Lin’s class might see him run a big race.

“He’s a talented horse on his day. He might enjoy the challenge. It’s 50-50 he might take to Aintree,” he said.

“He jumps a bit right-handed though and this might be the limit of his trip, but we thought it was worth a go as he has a touch of class.”

Might Bite at his peak won the King George at Kempton in 2017
Might Bite at his peak won the King George at Kempton in 2017 (Julian Herbert/PA)

Nicky Henderson feels the National obstacles may bring out a return back to form for Might Bite.

The once top-class staying steeplechaser has lost his way – but connections have not given up on him yet.

“He’s been in the wilderness,” said the Seven Barrows trainer this week, on a call hosted by Great British Racing.

“He won the RSA despite going via the car park, then went to Aintree and won. The following year he was second in the Gold Cup, but after that it hasn’t been easy.

“He lost that extra something special, his jumping wasn’t as accurate as it used to be and we even went cross-country racing last year, which he loved.

“His race at Ascot the other day, we and a lot of other people thought we saw serious glimpses of the old Might Bite, bowling along in front at a good gallop, jumping for fun, and a bit of fitness was all that caught him out.

“Nico (de Boinville) has always said he wanted to bring him back in trip, he can’t ride as he’s at Sandown. His biggest weapon is his jumping, he’s schooled over Aintree fences and he was a joy to watch.

“If he goes well who knows about the National, some of his owners had to be worked on to run in this! If he loved it you’d have to have a discussion.”

Donald McCain with his mum Beryl at the statue of his father, Ginger, at Aintree
Donald McCain with his mum Beryl at the statue of his father, Ginger, at Aintree (Martin Rickett/PA)

Donald McCain, who will always be intrinsically linked to Aintree, is expecting a decent run from Federici.

The 11-year-old is no stranger to these unique fences, having had five attempts.

He has finished fourth and fifth in the Becher Chase over further and McCain feels this distance might be a shade short for Federici.

“He’s in good nick this year – he’s won twice already and he loves the fences so he has plenty of experience over them,” said the Cheshire handler.

“Two-miles-six is just on the sharp side for him, but if it keeps raining it will make a big difference.

“He’s great round the fences, touch wood, and I think Brian (Hughes) is looking forward to riding him so fingers crossed.”

Huntsman Son had been set to be a leading player for Alex Hales, but the trainer did have ground concerns and he was declared a non-runner on raceday morning.

Grand Sefton plan for Might Bite

Might Bite is set to have a spin over the Grand National fences with Nicky Henderson eyeing next month’s William Hill Grand Sefton Handicap Chase at Aintree.

The 11-year-old recorded his last victory at the Merseyside venue back in 2018 when taking the Betway Bowl over regulation fences, one of his four Grade One triumphs that also encompass the 2017 King George VI Chase.

Might Bite has struggled to make his mark over the last two campaigns, prompting Henderson to try him in the cross-country chase at the Cheltenham Festival, where he thought the distance rather than the obstacles resulted in the gelding’s distant seventh place.

He finished fifth over three miles on his return at Ascot last month, but would be dropping back to two miles and five furlongs at Aintree – something jockey Nico de Boinville is eager to try.

Henderson said: “I’ve put him in the Grand Sefton and that’s what I’m thinking. Nico has always been keen to bring him back in trip, I’ve never quite agreed on that one, but here is an opportunity to do that.

“I think the trip round there will be fine and it will be better than the three-miles-six in the cross-country race at Cheltenham in December. I think he will be fine jumping those fences.

“He loved it at Ascot on his comeback and he has been in great form since.”

Also on course for Aintree on December 5 is Le Breuil, who enjoyed a spin around Newbury with classy stablemates Global Citizen and Kildisart on Tuesday.

The eight-year-old won the National Hunt Chase at the 2019 Festival, but failed to strike in five outings last term and was fourth on his return at Kelso last month, a run that more than satisfied trainer Ben Pauling.

He said: “We needed a lead horse for the other two (at Newbury) and he goes for the Becher Chase at Aintree.

“We think we have got the Le Breuil of old back. It has taken us a while to get him back from what was quite a tough assignment in the National Hunt Chase. Last season was a bit more pulling it all back together. His reappearance at Kelso was very promising.

“I think he will go to the Becher Chase in fabulous form.”