As the current winner of the Grand National, hopes were high for Pineau De Re going into the Ultima Business Solutions Handicap Hurdle at Cheltenham.
The 11-year-old, the mount of Daryl Jacob, went off at 20/1 under the staggeringly high weight of 11-12 and despite their best efforts, couldn't manage to get going, holding up the rear for most of the race until eventually beaten by 66 lengths.
Such a notable poor performance was picked up by race stewards who subsequently interviewed the trainer and jockey with Jacob reporting that his instructions were to try to creep into the race on the second circuit but that he ran keenly and his big weight told in the final mile.
Dr Richard Newland confirmed the instructions and said they were necessary because the gelding can be very keen.
Having heard the evidence and viewed recordings of the race, the stewards noted the explanations given rather than taking any action over the ride.
Newland said: “I tried to explain to the stewards that is how he has to be ridden, so I was happy with the ride.
“He just got a bit tired and we will find him another hurdle race somewhere, perhaps even back here.”
With ante-post odds of 25/1 for the Grand National 2015, it looks like there's still some work to be done if Pineau De Re is to have any chance of recapturing the glory over the Aintree fences on April 11th 2015.
Picture by: Tony Marshall/EMPICS Sport