The national hunt season is back in full swing. And with that comes the plans for many potential 2019 Grand National runners. While it may too early to speculate just who will make the cut, plenty of trainers are getting plans underway. Dr Richard Newland has made clear that his charge, Abolitionist is right on track.
The trainer has previously won the National with Pineau De Re in 2014 and is hoping to repeat that success in 2019. Abolitionist is his main hope and not only is he trained by Newland, he is also owned by him. As horse racing strategies go, this is a pretty good one. If he wins, he gets the owner and trainer cut of the prize money!
Abolitionist has had some past experience with Nationals, finishing third in the 2017 Irish Grand National. He also got an entry into the 2108 race and was given a weight of 10-04, off a mark of 145. Unfortunately he was subsequently ruled out of contention due to injury.
Now back on track and fully healed, the 10-year-old has made the perfect start to the season. He won the Pertemps Network Handicap Hurdle by 10 lengths at Aintree on November 10th and is looking very good indeed.
Worcestershire-based Newland reported: “Abolitionist has come out of his run at Aintree in good form and we were delighted with his victory.
“We bought him 15 months ago and we were trying to target this year’s Randox Health Grand National. He had finished third in an Irish National, but it all went a bit pear-shaped for him last season.
“He had a stress fracture on his pelvis and then when we tried to bring him back, he had another stress fracture on his pelvis. I thought we were nearly finished with him, but we got him sorted and gave him plenty of work and thankfully it has worked out.”
The Becher Chase at Aintree is the next big test for Abolitionist. He is one of 58 entries for the race which is scheduled for December 8th. Also, a handicapped race, the weights for that race will be revealed on November 21st. But Abolitionist will have some very tough competition. Run over the grand national fences, the Becher Chase is seen as preview of the National. The horses that do well in this race, often become favourites for the main event in April.
This year Abolitionist will potentially be up against One For Arthur, Blaklion, Go Conquer, General Principle, Baie Des Iles and Don Poli, to name just a few who have also been entered. That said, not all of them will ultimately race. Conditions and weights play an huge factor and many may hold off if they don’t suit.
Newland said: “The Randox Health Becher Handicap Chase is the plan for him now. From our point of view, his run at the weekend was a prep for the Becher. Obviously, we hoped he would win it off a low weight so it was a pleasing run.
“He is not that dissimilar to Pineau Du Re. Abolitionist probably has more untold stamina as he seemed to stay the three miles on Saturday at Aintree well. But I guess we don’t know far he will get in time.
“It was a great start for us from Abolitionist and we are looking forward to the rest of the season.”