Cotswold Chase: Many Clouds can lower colours of deadly Djakadam at Festival Trials
David Metcalf | January 29, 2016
Ante post Gold Cup favourite Djakadam is odds-on to land the Festival Trials Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham (13.50), but Many Clouds looks decent value to lower his colours.
Trained by Oliver Sherwood, Many Clouds put in a cracking performance when landing the 2014 running of the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury by 3 1/4 lengths off 11st 6lb.
The nine-year-old finished 28 lengths in front of Djakadam, who came eighth, and now meets that rival on 9lb better terms.
Sherwood seeks back-to-back Cotswold Chase crowns
Many Clouds went on to land this race 12 months ago when staying on strongly to beat Smad Place by 1 3/4 lengths, and after a below par effort when sixth in the Cheltenham Gold Cup rounded off the campaign with a tremendous weight carrying performance when capturing the Crabbies’ Grand National at Aintree off 11st 9lb.
Although not at his best when a well-beaten sixth to Cue Card on seasonal reappearance in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby, Many Clouds showed that run to be all wrong when runner-up to Don Poli at Aintree last month.
The son of Cloudings kept on well to be beaten four lengths, and it was a fine effort in attempting to give the subsequent Lexus Chase winner and leading Gold Cup hope 5lb.
Many Clouds is entitled to improve again with for that run, and is a really tough sort who will relish a battle if this race turns into a slog.
Deadly Djakadam is danger
Djakadam has improved enormously since his run behind Many Clouds in the Hennessy, and finished in front of the selection when a cracking second to Coneygree in last year’s Gold Cup.
The Willie Mullins trained gelding went down by just 1 1/2 lengths, and looked as good as ever on return to action last month when slamming Valseur Lido by 12 lengths in the Grade 1 John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown.
It was a most taking performance, and the seven-year-old currently heads Coral’s betting at 7/2 for this year’s Cheltenha, Gold Cup on the back of it.
Djakadam needs to be winning this with some authority to justify those odds, but is officially rated just 2lb higher than Many Clouds and has not always convinced me with his finishing effort.
It may well be the case that Djakadam is now much stronger and developing into the real deal, but Many Clouds is a battle-hardened warrior and if there are any chinks in his armour he will expose them.