We are celebrating this week thanks to Leighton Aspell’s thrilling race at the Grand National where he came in first on Pineau De Re, trained by Dr Richard Newland. We met Leighton Aspell recently when won at our final race of the day ‘ The La Fleur Morange Mathilde National Hunt Flat Race’ last Saturday, 29th March at Stratford Racecourse.
Leighton Aspell retired a few years ago and came back to riding as he missed it so much. He is a popular jockey amongst his peers as well as horse racing fans and has an online fan club set up in his honour. He forged 5 lengths clear of Balthazar King at the Grand National, which turned out to be an extraordinary race.
The Grand National at Aintree Racecourse remains the supreme test for both horses and riders and is uniquely challenging. Many of the fences have become famous in their own right but thanks to safety improvements put in place a couple of years ago all horses and riders returned safely for the second year running. It is the most valuable jump race in Europe with a prize fund of £1 million this year.
Pineau De Re was bred in France and is named after the wine Pineau which comes from the Charentes in western France (north of Bordeaux).
It’s s a fortified wine, made from fermented grape must and eau de vie (brandy) and is drunk as an aperitif in France. There are both red and white styles. Legend has it that it was created by a happy accident in 1589.
A wine maker placed grape must into a barrel that he thought was empty but actually contained a little eau de vie. A few years later he discovered that the contents were delicious and Pineau was born. The Re part of the bay gelding’s name is taken from the Ile de Ré, small island off the coast in Charentes.
Pineau de Re’s sire is Marresco Sorrento and his dam, Elfe du Perche, has Selle Francais ancestry. The Selle Francais are a breed of sport horses whose breeding comes from French mares used by the military or for pulling carriages crossed with English thoroughbreds in 19th century Normandy.
Selle Francais horses are renowned for their success in show jumping, dressage and eventing and their riders have won numerous medals in the summer Olympics and World Equestrian Games.
It’s a fantastic win for Leighton Aspell and Dr Newland, Pineau de Re came in at 25-1 and we are toasting their success!